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The Jaguar F-Pace SVR’s more mild-mannered cousin has entered the fray. Does its refined approach mean greater appeal?

Armed with impressive global sales figures of more than 60 000 units for the first 12 months of Velar production, together with broadly positive feedback on its brutish Jaguar F-Pace SVR, the marketing meeting at Jaguar Land Rover’s Coventry head office to discuss whether to combine these two platform-sharing projects into a new flagship product would likely have been a short one.

In JLR parlance, the SVR (Special Vehicle Racing) badge is reserved for vehicles upgraded with outright performance and track focus in mind. Distorted somewhat within the F-Pace’s two-tonne, raised-ride-height frame, the objective with the fastest Velar to date was rather an amalgamation of the brand’s famous high-end Autobiography insignia with the kind of performance that saw the top-of-the-range F-Pace record a sub five-second sprint time in both our 2019 road test and again at Performance Shootout 2020.

The Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition will be on sale for just 12 months from start of production and builds on the 2018 World Car Design of the Year’s already sleek and effortlessly sophisticated lines. Finished in a menacing Santorini Black-on-black paint combination (the roof can be specced in contrasting black, or to match one of the 25 available body colours), our test unit was granted additional presence via optional 22-inch dark grey forged rims (21-inch items are standard). Together with an upgraded body kit (bumpers, sills and grille), the Velar SVA is instantly identified by its signature LED daytime-running lights, red brake callipers and collection of imposing squared-off exhaust tailpiece housings protruding from its rear.

Although by design not as raucous as the quad setup fitted to the F-Pace SVR, these pipes nevertheless originate from the same supercharged 5,0-litre V8 engine. It delivers an identical 405 kW and 680 N.m of torque to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

In the Range Rover package, this translates to a marginally slower (though no less dramatic) 0-100 km/h time of 4,63 seconds compared with the SVR’s 4,58-second run recorded on our test strip.

Upgraded to match the arrangement fitted to the F-Pace, the 395 mm front and 396 mm rear ventilated braking system provides impressive stopping power, especially when you consider the SVA’s hefty overall mass.

True to its Autobiography standing, the top-of-the-range Velar gains air suspension (the F-Pace makes do with steel items). Tuneable through a comfort or dynamic setting, this arrangement affords the SVA a degree of additional versatility as its ground clearance can be varied. Combined with the brand’s Terrain Response off-road package, the owner of the sportiest Velar can at least consider heading off the beaten track.

On asphalt, the SVA’s recalibrated all-wheel-drive system directs up to 100% of torque to the rear wheels as required during enthusiastic driving. It’s here, though, where the Velar loses ground to some of its rivals. Laugh-out-loud quick in a straight line, the laws of physics aren’t kind to the still softly sprung Range Rover once the road ahead gets bendy. It’s not to say JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) department couldn’t have done a better job at making the Velar more planted, but remember the brief with the SVA was to combine performance with comfort and sophistication.

A nice place to be in standard guise, the interior of the Velar SVAutobiography is further enhanced by standard-fitment 20-way adjustable front seats (incorporating heating, cooling and massage functions), an upgraded sound system and subtle switchgear surface enhancements. The Velar’s Windsor leather-covered front seats present an impressive compromise between comfort and lateral support, although they’re not as slender nor form-hugging as the items found in the F-Pace.

The complexity and relatively slow workings of the brand’s Touch Pro Duo touchscreen setup remains a weak point in the Velar’s otherwise neat interior packaging. However, this system has been updated to include menus linked to both the calibration and screening of data related to this model’s dynamic ability.
MAGALIESBURG – Let’s deal with the new flagship Velar’s name first: it should really sport the SVR label, reserved for Jaguar Land Rover’s most powerful performance models. Because the Velar SVAutobiography is an SVR in all but name. As evidence, consider the 405 kW and 680 N.m produced by the archaic but thoroughly wonderful 5,0-litre supercharged V8. Or the claimed 0-100 km/h sprint of 4,5 seconds (despite the premium-midsize SUV tipping the scales at well over two tonnes). Or the 274 km/h top speed. Of the fact that it looks suitably menacing as it hunkers down on its darkened 21-inch alloys housing a high-performance braking system compromising 395 mm discs at the front and 396 mm units aft.

New niche, new challenges

The Velar SVA enters a segment that didn’t exist only a few years ago. The market for midsize performance SUVs is bustling: Jaguar recently joined with the F-Pace SVR (sorry, Velar), Mercedes-AMG has facelifted the GLC63 S, BMW now ships its X3 M and X4 M here and Porsche offers the Macan Turbo. Even Alfa Romeo has quietly added the Stelvio QV to its local line-up. It’s a curious sector of the market because a performance SUV is a perfect contradiction. Take a vehicle developed to fulfil a family’s myriad space, comfort and convenience needs, then bastardise it with a spiky, thirsty performance engine, firm suspension and a raucous exhaust note.

Only, the Velar SVA strikes a fine balance between these polar opposites. On one hand, it retains all those qualities which make the standard Velar such a pleasure to live with and drive: a spacious cockpit; class-leading refinement; great seating and rolling comfort (there’s some pitter-patter you won’t find on Velars with smaller wheels and more compliance in their suspension but, still, the ride is as good as it gets in this sub-niche).

Squeeze the throttle, however, and the quad exhaust outlets drone, roar and then shriek as the V8 slingshots this solid block of metal, aluminium, wood and leather to the horizon, the bonnet lifting ever so slightly as the Velar settles on its haunches and flies. The sound is addictive, the performance equally so. Sure, the Velar SVA isn’t especially quick by class standards – a GLC63 S will leave it choking in costly unleaded fumes – but the quality and character of its performance is what sets the Brit apart. 

The handling is ever so slightly less impressive. There’s grip aplenty and – typically JLR – the steering seems perfectly geared and responsive, but the laws of physics plus the need to have a characteristically tranquil ride dictate the body will list onto the outside corners. I’ve driven an X3 M and the BMW is several degrees more dynamically talented but it can’t match the Range Rover’s natural responses, instead bludgeoning the surface underneath its bespoke tyres.

What of the cheaper F-Pace SVR?

How does the SVA compare with the F-Pace SVR to which it’s so closely related? Again, the Range Rover feels like the heavier, more refined vehicle. The Jaguar, if memory serves me correctly, is even louder still, but its interior simply can’t match the Velar’s material richness. The latter boasts beautifully stitched and quilted Windsor leather, seat heating and cooling, knurled finishes aplenty and the opinion-splitting Touch Pro Duo infotainment system (I’m one of the naysayers; the screens take your eyes off the road for simply too long).

Ultimately, if you’re a fan of the contemporary performance SUV, you and I can spend hours debating whether they should or shouldn’t exist. Give me an Audi RS6 Avant or an equivalent sports wagon any day of the week.

However, the performance SUV is here to stay and, despite not wearing an acronym it so obviously deserves, the Velar SVAutobiography is one of the best of this peculiar breed. If the world turned upside down, we were all millionaires and the performance SUV was the only option (hey, it might happen), this is the one I’d choose.   

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front + rear
  • Lumbar support adjustment: front electric
  • Front armrests: dual sliding
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Hill descent control downhill brake control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 6
  • Lane departure warning: std + lane keep assist
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Standard
  • Attention assist rest assist break alert: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • Electric child proof safety lock switch: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Approach home safe lighting time delay park headlights: Standard
  • Directional turning headlights: Standard
  • Adaptive headlights varying light distribution: Standard
  • Emergency brake hazardlights: emergency-brake flashing hazard lights
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Sports suspension: Standard
  • Electronically adjustable suspension: adaptive sports air
  • Self levelling suspension: Standard
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Standard
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: std + touch control buttons
  • Head up display: Optional
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Navigation: Standard
  • Cruise control: adaptive
  • Active adaptive cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Voice control: Standard
  • TV television: Optional
  • USB port: 2
  • Powersocket 12V: 3
  • Central locking: keyless (opt activity key)
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Standard
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Auto dimexterior mirrors: Standard
  • Sun roof: sliding panoramic
  • Panoramic roof: sliding
  • Electric seat adjustment: front
  • Memory for electric seat adjustment: front
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Highbeam assist: Standard
  • Frontfog lamps lights: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Camera for park distance control: rear (opt surround view)
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Towbar trailer hitch: opt detachable / opt electric deployable
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 695 km
  • Driven wheels: all
  • Driven wheels quantity: 4
  • Gearratios quantity: 8
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automatic
  • Gear shift paddles: Standard
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Diff lock: rear electronic
  • Front tyres: 265/45 R21 (opt 265/40 R22)
  • Reartyres: 265/45 R21 (opt 265/40 R22)
  • Spare wheel size full: Standard
  • Air suspension: Standard
  • Length: 4806 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 2032-2145 mm
  • Height: 1676 mm
  • Wheel base: 2874 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 205 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 11.6-12.0 m
  • Approach angle: 24.0
  • Break over ramp angle: 21.8
  • Departure angle: 27.5
  • Wading/fording (water crossing) depth: 650
  • Load volume / capacity: 834-1705 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 1705 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 2160 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 2610 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 750
  • Towing capacity - braked: 2500
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 82l
  • Fuel consumption average: 11.8 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 270g/km
  • Power maximum: 405 kW
  • Power maximum total: 405 kW
  • Power peak revs: 6500 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 187.5 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 680 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 3500 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 680 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 315 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 4.5s
  • Maximum top speed: 274 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 5000 cc
  • Engine size: 5.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 5.0S
  • Engine + detail: 5.0 supercharged
  • Cylinder layout: V
  • Cylinders: 8
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: V8
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 32
  • Variable camvalve timing: Standard
  • Supercharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 5
  • Warranty distance (km): 100000 km
  • Maintenance plan: Standard
  • Maintenance plan time (years): 5
  • Maintenance plan distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service interval indicator: Standard
  • Service interval (distance): 26000 km
  • Service interval (time): 1
  • Brand: Land Rover
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 35073850
  • MMintrodat: 2019-07-25
  • Limited edition: ltd ed
  • Introdate: 2019-06-20
  • DuoportarecordID: LandRanV1e180

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Land Rover Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition for sale in Hillcrest from one of's apporoved car dealerships
New Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition availbale from the following auto dealer:
Land Rover Hillcrest new car dealership located in: Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
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