Driven: Range Rover Velar gets serious with V8-powered SVA
When engineers spend 63 900 hours working only on the calibration and optimisation, of a vehicle’s handling and responsiveness, you know there’s been some serious thought behind it.
That’s what you’ll need though, when you decide to slot a V8 supercharged engine into a Range Rover Velar.
Well, it’s not just an ordinary Velar - to give it its full name it’s the Range Rover Velar SV Autobiography Dynamic Edition, but you can just call it the Velar SVA Dynamic.
When the Velar made its debut in 2017, it filled the gap between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport but it also gave us a glimpse into a cockpit that was more gaming console than dashboard, and had a selection of four and six cylinder diesel and petrol engines.
We’re a lot more blasé about “virtual cockpits” and all the other technological advances that are being introduced to vehicles which, at its most base, are four pieces of rubber on each corner and an engine that propels it forward.
I know the future is electric but for now stick around because those hard-working folk at Land Rover have produced something really eye-catching with a sound to match.
At the heart of the Velar SVA Dynamic is its 5.0 litre V8 supercharged engine, under a sculpted bonnet, that produces 405kW and 680Nm.
It’s good enough to get to 100km/h, from a standing start, in 4.5 seconds according to Land Rover and will top out at 274km/h.
Not too shabby for a luxury SUV but similar figures to the Jaguar F Pace SVR.
Why then opt for a Velar? I’ll let Land Rover explain it better than I can.
“The F Pace SVR delivers renowned Jaguar performance and handling, while the Velar SVA Dynamic delivers the performance combined with the heightened luxury and refinement expected of a Range Rover product.”
The heightened luxury is immediately obvious when you slide behind the wheel - with Windsor leather, unique sports steering wheel, knurled finish for the gear selector and soft touches everywhere - heightened luxury to be sure.
The front seats are heated and cooled and have a memory massage. Remember to turn it off on the touchscreen, though, because it can be a bit disconcerting to feel something rolling up and down your back while you negotiate a bend at speed.
The infotainment system, with Touch Pro Duo control dials, is intuitive and I found it easier to use than some of the competitors.
From the outside, it’s definitely Velar but on some steroids - with a new front bumper to allow for larger air intakes to feed the V8 and keep the brakes cool, and a revised rear bumper with integrated quad exhaust finishers. It stands on 21-inch alloys, with an option for 22-inch rims, that cover 395mm front and 396mm rear discs with red calipers winking their intent.
Not so easily visible is a transmission tunnel under-tray, allowing better and free airflow under the car.
Push the start button and the unmistakable sound of eight pistons doing their thing, while being stimulated by a supercharger, permeates the air.
The Velar SVA Dynamic, like its siblings, has settings to suit your driving and, while eco or normal would be good enough for every day use, it’s sport that you want when open roads beckon.
It does have paddles should you wish to use them but the settings on the eight-speed automatic are so well calibrated that we only really used them to gear down for that dramatic effect emanating from the exhausts, with its variable active system. All those hours the engineers at Special Vehicle Operations grafted away were clearly not in vain because, as a handling package, the transmission, air suspension, tyres, anti-roll bars and steering work extremely well in unison.
If there was one minor niggle it was that, at speed, the steering tended to twitch but there is a sweet spot where steering, speed and handling come together to give a ride like only a bespoke Range Rover can.
Land Rover is still, at its core, a company that is known for its all terrain ability and even though the Velar SVA Dynamic is very much a black-top vehicle, it has all the systems to go off-road.
Not in the Discovery or new Defender sense but don’t underestimate where it can get you. What you have to ask though is if it’s worthwhile slicing tyres and putting a ding on the rims.
I know what the answer to that will be when you look at the price of R1 743 325.
The Velar SVA Dynamic is not a limited edition but will only be available on sale for a year.
It comes in six colours - Firenze Red; Santorini Black; Eiger Grey; Fuji White; Indus Silver and, a new colour called Satin Byron Blue.