A limited-edition Range Rover earns its $35,000 price premium

By  Hannah Elliott

If you want the sexiest Range Rover, buy the Velar. Compared with the diminutive Evoque, which might be the next in line for that distinction, the Velar comes off like a ride for an actual adult, not a well-off college freshman. 

But not just any Velar will do. You need the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition.

Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition

Yes, at $91,000 it’s the most expensive of the Velar range, compared with the $56,300 required for the base model. But it rewards the extra coin with mechanical clout and class: 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque; zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds; a 170 mph top speed. Quilted, perforated Windsor leather is named after the royal family itself. 

The Velar is the middle child of Land Rover’s SUV family — bigger than the Defender and aforementioned Evoque but smaller than the Range Rover proper and the Discovery. And the SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition represents the pinnacle of the Velar line. It’s far from the most practical or most economical. But one week driving in Los Angeles has me believing it’s worth the expense.

One more thing: The Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is available to buy this year only. Exclusivity, it seems, is a total aphrodisiac.

You get certain things when you buy the Velar SVAutobiography that you won’t get in the lesser versions. Good things. The supercharged V-8 engine is special to the vehicle and the most powerful in a Velar. When fully engaged, it guns down the freeway with the earnest guilelessness of a British Boy Scout.

The Velar SVAutobiography offers a unique calibration of the eight-speed transmission and standard speed-sensitive steering, which makes it shift quicker and smoother than lesser Velars. Its upgraded “SV” brakes, performance-tuned by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations, stop with total composure. Its customizable suspension makes it float above uneven terrain.

The SVAutobiography-dedicated 21-inch forged wheels (optional 22s), in gloss gray and with a diamond-turned finish, set it off with a heavy curb appeal—something I noticed from a block away after a masked/gloved/flighty agent dropped it at my door. (The bigger wheels are functional as well: They enhance grip with the road and allow extra space for the enlarged brakes.) The 20-way adjustable heated and cooled front seats with memory and massage functions come as standard — they don’t in lesser Velars.

There are also the new front bumper and enlarged air intakes, as well as a redesigned grille and lower side moldings. In the back, those combine with a revised rear bumper that handsomely sees the four exhaust pipes integrated directly into it, rather than sticking out below. Rest assured, your friends and neighbors will know you splurged for the “special” Velar.

Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition

I also love the exclusive color here: The SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is also the only Velar available in Satin Byron Blue, an intellectual-sounding name to denote the metallic blue-gray paint finish from Special Vehicle Operations’ Premium Palette range. It comes with a contrasting flat black roof as well—something that unfortunately is not optional. I am never a fan of two-tone anything, but the effect is subtle enough that you will probably get over it, like I did, as soon as you climb inside. 

All of this exclusivity is enough to make anyone feel special, but that’s not to say that the Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is perfect. Not by any means. 

One easy example: The Velar has 29.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seats, and 60.2 cubic feet with them folded down. That’s not enough for real storage, maybe a tent and a beach ball, or (as I discovered) a few fig plants.But it’s certainly not practical, value- or space-wise, for most families with children. The same spaces in the Range Rover are 31.8 cubic feet and 68.6 cubic feet; long-wheelbase Range Rovers behind the second row boost the number to a whopping 75.6 cubic feet.

Another example: The tow rating on any Velar is 1,653 pounds, compared with triple that in the Range Rover. Paying extra for the SVAutobiography edition won’t increase space or towing power.

Spending extra for the SVAutobiography version gains you nothing in the fuel efficiency department, either — a paltry 17 mpg combined.

So, if maximizing the use of a premium midsize SUV is your aim, you should buy any of the less expensive Velars. The far less expensive base model Velar is a wonderful option with many of the same elements as this pinnacle vehicle. If off-road adventure and weekend sports are your thing, you’ll need something bigger anyway to hold your gear and tow your stuff — try the Range Rover or Range Rover Discovery.

And if you want something really fast, get a Jaguar F-Type R. (Duh.)

But there’s something delightfully contrarian in purchasing what is not the most practical vehicle at the moment and then reveling in its allure. With all the performance upgrades and special details, it flaunts real cachet. And as any therapist will tell you, allowing yourself to seek something so frivolous as happiness, especially during a pandemic, is not at all frivolous—it’s essential. The vivacious Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition, at the very least, will help you do just that.