Jaguar Land Rover is in a bit of a financial quagmire. Thanks to a destructive storm of Brexit, trade tensions with the US, a rapidly falling Chinese market, dropping diesel sales coupled with the costs of certifying to the WLTP standards, plus investing in electrification, a scythe has been taken to its profits. This spiral has resulted in 4,500 redundancies in order to save £2.5 billion over 18 months. So, desperately needing to get in the black, what’s the first car JLR is launching after this news? A highly-stylised SUV with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8. Now, we don’t know much about economics, but it sounds like someone in Gaydon has been doing some Top Gear Maths.
It’s called the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition, a juiced-up 550bhp Velar that doesn’t give two hoots about brevity or punctuation. Set to be the headline act in the Velar line-up, it’s been developed by Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations. Y’know, that muddled off-shoot that makes either fast JLR products or luxo ones. This, apparently, is both.
‘Autobiography’ is a familiar name in Rangey world, traditionally the plushest iteration of a car that’s hardly working class in the first place. Here, the ‘Dynamic’-ness has also been added thanks to JLR’s familiar supercharged V8 engine up front. With 550bhp, it’s comfortably the most powerful Velar on offer and can see off a standstill to 100kph in 4.5 seconds… then go on to 274kph while massaging, heating and cooling your buttocks and back.
Given it’s now faster, Range Rover has also done the sensible thing of beefing up the stoppers. There are now four-piston 395mm front and 396mm diameter rear brake discs that are lighter, more powerful and finished in bright red so all your mates know you’ve got ‘the fast one’. The electronics and eight-speed gearbox have also been given a go-faster map, while the anti-roll bars have been uprated so you don’t cartwheel with every prod of the accelerator pedal, while the air suspension has been revised for a firmer, more sporting, ride.
Visually, everything’s been made a bit more butch. The car is lower, wider and features big intakes up front to feed that V8. There are new editions in the shape of four big chrome exhaust pipes (the new exhaust system saves 7.1kg) and some white grouting around the Range Rover badging. It’s still the supremely stylised SUV that the Notting Hill set love, now just in new trendy Lululemon athleisure wear. Which they’ll no doubt love even more.
It’s a similar story inside. There’s the same TFT in the place of the instrument pack, a big head-up display, plus two big edgeless touchscreens in the car’s centre. The lower of which carries a pair of knurled twist-and-push knobs whose markings magically change with their context-dependent function. But there has been some sportiness added; a new steering wheel (now with contoured rim) and a set of aluminium gear shift paddles. If you want to inject some more sporting character (or need to do a YouTube vlog on the car) there’s also an optional carbon fibre pack that slathers the place in lacquered carbon weave.
Prices start from £86,120 (RM456,000). Could this be the car that saves JLR? Probably not, but a few more supercharged V8s in the world is no bad thing. If you’re going down, you may as well go down in a cacophony of V8 roar.