2020 Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition Test: V8 performance

"A supercharged V8 engine gives the Range Rover Velar a performance that matches its looks."

  • V8 muscle

  • Impressive handling

  • Well equipped cabin

  • Comfortable ride

  • Tech needs to be refined

  • Sunglasses are required for the interior

Land Rover started making glorified agricultural equipment, but today the British company is synonymous with luxury. Like their ancestors, today's Land Rovers have impressive off-road capabilities, but are also good for suburbs. The 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition embodies this transformation.

This name requires a lot of unpacking. The Velar was introduced for the 2018 model year and is part of Land Rover's efforts to transform the legendary Range Rover into a model family. The Velar is slimmer and more car-like than the original Range Rover, which remains the brand's flagship. And the SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is a one-year special edition that contains a turbocharged V8 instead of the usual V6 engine.

The Velar was already the most technically heavy Land Rover SUV, but the V8 gives his CV more power. However, this additional ability comes at a price. The SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition costs from $ 91,775 – a whopping $ 34,550 more than a basic Velar.

Design and interior

The Velar (the name refers to the first Range Rover prototypes from 1969) reaches the limits of Land Rover design. It dispenses with traditional SUV boxiness and ensures a slimmer appearance. The steeply sloping windshield and the low roof give the Velar a completely different silhouette than the original Range Rover and the smaller Range Rover Sport. Short overhangs ensure a sporty appearance and ensure that the body does not get caught on obstacles in the field.

Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

The differences between the SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition and the standard Velar are subtle. The Dynamic Edition gets another front bumper with larger cooling outlets that supply air to the V8 engine and brakes, as well as a new rear bumper with four exhaust tips. A shelf under the transmission tunnel helps to improve aerodynamic efficiency.

The interior feels more like the cockpit of a sports car than an SUV. You sit fairly high above the floor, but the dashboard, center console, and door sills rise to wrap you around. While this makes it easier to reach the cup holder or touchscreen, it also creates the worst of both worlds. A big, big vehicle that you can't see anything from.

The interior feels more like the cockpit of a sports car than an SUV.

The quality of the interior material is high, as you would expect from a vehicle that costs so much. The Land Rover contained lots of real metal trimmings, and the quilt pattern stitching on the seats is a nice touch. However, Land Rover also used a lot of piano-black plastic, which easily smeared and scratched and also produced glare in direct sunlight. When the sun is at certain angles, the black and metal cladding of the piano along with the huge screens can blind a driver like paparazzi lightbulbs on the red carpet.

Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

The Velar is an intermediary when it comes to size. Land Rover regards the Porsche Macan Turbo as the competition of the Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition. The Velar is much larger than the Macan, but smaller than a Porsche Cayenne – the next size up. The Velar is also larger than a Mercedes-AMG GLC63, but smaller than the SUV's big brother, the GLE.

The Velar has more cargo space than the GLC or Macan, but the Mercedes has more leg room at the front and rear (Porsche does not publish internal dimensions for the Macan). The BMW X3 M has more cargo space than the Land Rover, but only with the rear seats folded down. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is smaller overall, but offers more headroom than the Velar, just like the X3 M. Subjectively, the back seats of the Velar felt comfortable and spacious, but the front seats felt tight, with limited legroom.

Technology, infotainment and driver assistance

The Velar has Land Rover's InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, which, as the name suggests, has two 10.0-inch touchscreens. The top screen manages phone, navigation and media functions and can be tilted up to 30 degrees for better positioning. (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is a Wi-Fi hotspot that can handle up to eight devices.)

The bottom screen deals with vehicle settings and climate control. It has additional buttons that allow you to change the cabin temperature or switch between different driving modes. The on-screen menus are logically arranged and contain high quality graphics. However, the loading times for both screens were slow, especially immediately after starting the vehicle.

The driver also receives a digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster, a head-up display and capacitive steering wheel controls. These controls work well, but their glossy black plastic surface adds to the glare in the cockpit – something Lincoln could avoid with its reconfigurable steering wheel controls.

A screen has additional buttons with which you can change the cabin temperature or switch between different driving modes.

The 2020 Velar is equipped as standard with autonomous emergency braking, a lane departure warning system and parking aids at the front and rear. Our test car also had an optional adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and a 360-degree camera system. These functions are part of an option package that also increases the speed threshold for autonomous emergency braking.

As with most other luxury cars, it's surprising to see adaptive cruise control as an option when it is standard on some mainstream brand cars like Honda and Toyota. Land Rover also offers nothing more demanding than the simple lane keeping assistant. Other luxury brands (and even some mainstream brands) offer technologies that can actively steer the car to keep it in the lane.

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar SV autobiography dynamic editionStephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

With the exception of the 360-degree camera system, the driver aids performed well. Poorly chosen camera angles and a confusing user interface didn't make it helpful. The 360-degree view is also not displayed automatically and cannot be activated in certain situations. Such a system can be very helpful in an SUV like the Velar. So it was frustrating that Land Rover's efforts were neglected.

Experience driving

The V8 engine of the SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition transforms the Velar. While the Standard Velar is a relaxed and luxurious cruiser, the Dynamic Edition is exciting and dynamic.

The 5.0-liter V8 with compressor is used in numerous Land Rover and sibling Jaguar models. In the Velar, it produces 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. For comparison: the most powerful V6 Velar can only produce 380 hp and 332 lb-ft. Power is transmitted to all four wheels via the same eight-speed automatic transmission that is used in other Velar variants.

Land Rover estimates that it can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, with a top speed of 177 mph. That's good for such a heavy vehicle, but unfortunately for Land Rover there are many high-performance SUVs on offer today. The Velar has much more power than a BMW X3 M Competition, a Mercedes-AMG GLC63 or a Porsche Macan Turbo, but cannot improve its times from zero to 60 mph. After unpacking, the Macan Turbo corresponds to the time of the Velar and, according to Porsche, can reach 4.1 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono Package. BMW cites 4.0 seconds for the X3 M competition, while Mercedes claims that the GLC63 can reach 60 miles an hour in just 3.8 seconds.

The Velar breathed like an angry bear as its engine breathed through a quad exhaust system.

In addition to the V8 swap, Land Rover gave the SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition larger brakes, improved all-wheel hardware for additional performance and new tuning for both the all-wheel system and the adaptive air suspension. Despite the relatively limited changes, the Dynamic Edition felt pretty sporty on winding roads. The steering was precise, the body swaying was well controlled, and the larger brakes had a lot of confidence that stimulated the braking force.

The Velar breathed like an angry bear, whose engine breathed through a model-specific quad exhaust system. And like a bear, this Land Rover was surprisingly nimble, even though it was still an animal. If carving in bends is a priority, you're better off with a sports sedan or a sports car, but the Velar copes with bends better than the average SUV.

Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

While the focus is on driving on the road, the Velar is also equipped for off-roading. It has a limited slip differential at the rear and Land Rover's Terrain Response system, which can be used to adjust different vehicle settings for different surfaces. The Velar also has an all-terrain progress control that acts like a low-speed cruise control on slippery surfaces.

However, the Velar's all-wheel drive system only has a single-speed transfer case and not the two-speed units used in most serious off-roaders. Together with the 21-inch wheels and the low-profile tires of our test car, this means that this SUV is not our first choice when we hit the trails.

Fuel consumption and security

The disadvantage of a V8 is the poor mileage. The SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is rated 17 mpg (15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway) compared to 20 mpg (18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway) for the most powerful V6 Velar. According to the car's on-board computer, we managed an average of 14.5 mpg over a week's drive.

Crash test assessments by the Road Safety Insurance Institute (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are not available. While the Velar has been on the market for a number of years, high-end vehicles like this usually have a low priority for testing because they are sold in small quantities.

Land Rover does not have a reputation for reliability, but the automaker offers a four-year 50,000-mile warranty comparable to other luxury brands, as well as a six-year warranty on corrosion / perforation with unlimited mileage.

How DT would configure this car

Is it better to choose SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition or the Standard Velar? The Dynamic Edition comes with a substantial price premium, but the right one. If you can afford it, the V8 drivetrain adds a sporty character that other Velar models lack.

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar SV autobiography dynamic editionStephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

This version also offers all driver aids and other functions, some of which are chargeable in other equipment variants. The Dynamic Edition also has a good picture of collectability: Land Rover has no fixed production cap, but a spokesman told Digital Trends that the company expects only 500 of these special editions.

Our opinion

The 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition proves that the devil is in the details. It's a stylish SUV that combines luxury, performance and technology like no other vehicle. However, a closer look reveals some problems.

Land Rover's InControl TouchPro Duo infotainment system lives up to the promise of a smartphone-like interface, but slow screens dampen the experience. The interior is luxurious, but a lack of front legroom and glare-free trim parts show that it could have used a different pass through customer clinics. The Velar generates impressive performance data, but the BMW X3 M Competition, the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 and the Porsche Macan Turbo are faster. Other Land Rover models are better suited for off-road driving.

However, these shortcomings do not ruin experience. The standard Velar is a solid but luxurious SUV that doesn't really stand out from the many alternatives available. However, the V8 engine of this model turns the SVAutobiogrpahy Dynamic Edition into something very special.

Should you get one?

Yes. Long live the V8.

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