THERE was once a time not too long ago that V8 petrol engines were strictly limited to large Australian built sedans, American muscle cars and European exotics.
Sure there was the occasional Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol off-roader, but by and large, bent eight donks shied away from big, boxy and heavy SUVs.
Nowadays though, with the progression of fuel-saving technologies and more efficient engines, manufacturers are increasingly turning to V8 engines for performance-orientated high-riders, the latest of which is the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition.
Shoehorning Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Special Vehicles Operations (SVO)’s ubiquitous supercharged 5.0-litre V8 under the sleek bonnet of the Velar means 405kW of power and 680Nm of torque.
While the same engine with the same output is featured in the Jaguar F-Type R coupe and convertible, as well as the Range Rover Sport, the unit is also capable of more performance as seen in the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 and F-Type SVR.
Anyone else hoping JLR will produce a special edition or limited-run Velar with up to 441kW/700Nm, or is it just us?
Sending drive to all four wheels, the flagship Range Rover Velar will scoot from zero to 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds, while top speed is pegged at 274km/h.
To put that into perspective, the Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is quicker off the line than hot hatches such as the Honda Civic Type R, Ford Focus RS and Mercedes-AMG A45, as well as outright sportscars including the Honda NSX Type R.
Not content to just rework the powertrain though, Land Rover is also courteous enough to upgrade the brakes, suspension and aerodynamics.
Fitted with a more aggressive bodykit complete with larger intakes and a reworked grille to allow increased airflow into the engine, the Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition also gains 21-inch wheels as standard and 22-inch hoops as an option.
Front brakes now measure 395mm which are grabbed by four-piston callipers, while the rear discs come in at 396mm to bring the stylish SUV to a halt.
Further differentiating the high-performance Velar from the standard range is a unique exterior colour – Satin Byron Blue – in addition to five hues shared with cheaper grades.
Speaking of price, the SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition will set you back a cool $175,322 before on-road costs, a hefty step up from the previously range-topping R-Dynamic HSE that costs $127,082 in 280kW petrol form.
The Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is also pricier than its Jaguar F-Pace SVR cousin, which shares the same supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine – albeit with one less kilowatt for a total output of 404kW/680Nm – and a lower $139,648 asking price.
Compared with the Range Rover, the Jaguar is quicker to 100km/h from a standstill though, hitting the triple-digit landmark in just 4.3s and a top speed of 283km/h.
Aside from the mechanically similar Jaguar SUV, the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition will also line up against other high-performance high-riders including the spicy Mercedes-AMG GLE63.
Though not powered by the German brand’s ubiquitous twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8 engine – which is also in service in the AMG GT supercar, C63 S sedan and G63 off-roader – the GLE63 still punches out a healthy 430kW/760Nm from a force-fed 5.5-litre bent eight.
Though a new-generation GLE was revealed at last year’s Paris motor show, meaning a new AMG-fettled flagship is likely to be revealed down the line, the existing version can still stop the clock in just 4.2s in the 0-100km/h sprint.
However, Aussie buyers will soon have another choice for a luxurious European V8-powered large SUV later this year in the form of the Maserati Levante GTS.
Powered by a 3.8-litre bi-turbo engine, the top-tier Levante GTS belts out 404kW/730Nm for a 0-100km/h sprint time in 4.2s, although pricing could push the Maserati bruiser beyond the $200,000 mark.
Though V8 engines might have migrated out of passenger cars to big SUVs, at least we can still revel in the noise and performance of a bent eight.