The Velar SVAD engine is the respected but familiar 5.0-liter JLR V8 supercharged that produces 542bhp, with 502lb ft of torque, which is driven through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a permanent four-wheel drive system. All common driving modes, traction controls and downhill devices are present and correct, with Velars standard air suspension units reduced in volume to increase their basic index of elasticity for sportier (but still height-adjustable) performance.
The SVAD is mounted on standard 21-inch wheels (nothing smaller is possible because it also has larger SV specification disc brakes everywhere), but a 22-inch option is available. Land Rover connoisseurs prefer the 21 for the semiseriosos off-road to limit tire damage. In both sizes the wheels are forged, giving them additional strength and reducing weight by 2.5 kg per wheel, which benefits both ride quality and kerb weight.
All other important dynamic parts – steering, four-wheel drive, active rear locking differential, eight-speed car, higher-speed air suspension, continuously variable dampers and stiffer stabilizer bars – are specially adapted for service in the SVAutobiography edition, a fact that becomes obvious when driving.
The intelligent drive unit distributes engine torque according to driving conditions, but although it can send 100% to the rear wheels if necessary, the SVAD configuration is more “balanced” than the Jaguar SVR, which sends more torque to the rear, most of the time.
Land Rover is not particularly useful with performance figures, but the SVADs 0-60 mph 4.3-second race time coincides exactly with that of the Jaguar SVR (same size and platform), suggesting that this special Velar weighs the same two tonnes as the Jaguar, and can reach around 170 mph at full speed.
The standard Velar is already well regarded for its beauty, so changes have been made to the style. The SVAD gets new bumpers: in the front they incorporate a more prominent separator, lower air intakes and a new higher airflow grille; in the rear, an impressive quartet of inclined and square exhaust pipes that are a visible sign of an exhaust system that has been specially tuned for a deeper and less aggressive sound than that of the hot Jaguar relative of Velar.
Along the lower sides, the SVAD gets subtle side panels that give the model a wider, more “planted” look. The task, say the designers, has been to make the car look useful without altering its luxurious appearance.
Inner changes are judged with the same care. The designers of Land Rover are proud of the minimalist philosophy of their car, and in the SVAD this is maintained. The model gets a subtly thicker rim, new Windsor leather-adjustable double-stitched and padded seats, knurled knobs for its main controls and aluminium cams for shifting gears. There is also an attractive carbon fiber package for interiors that incorporates a distinctive steel fabric. Luxury is enhanced without disturbing simplicity.