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Range Rover has had a very successful few years. The Range Rover Sport is still the go to large SUV, whilst the baby Range Rover Evoque, launched in 2011, has been bought by over 600,000 customers. Plainly, the Range Rover product sells. However, there was a fairly sizeable gap, both from a size & cost perspective, between the Evoque & Sport & in late 2017 Range Rover launched the Velar to fill this space & a more attractive car Company Car has not driven for quite some time.
Land Rover has produced luxury SUV’s for sometime now, but where the Velar looks & feels very much like a Range Rover, it is perhaps the first model to bear the Range Rover mantle that has been designed with style first & function second. That’s not to say the 4WD Velar isn’t a capable off-roader, but alongside stablemate the Jaguar F-Pace, the Velar has been designed as an on-road car first, to appeal to soft-road customers who want to pilot a luxury SUV.
From the outside, the Velar looks stunning. Whilst most definitely a Range Rover, the Velar manages the clever trick of looking completely gorgeous, whilst simultaneously looking like it can handle the great outdoors if required. With prices starting at just under £45,000, the Velar also looks good value for money, but as with all of the Range Rover range, by the time you have added the goodies you’d expect on a car like this, to your shopping trolley, you’ll be looking at a cost in excess of £60,000.
Land Rover offers Velar with a large range of engines & specs. There’s a 2.0-litre diesel with 180bhp & 240bhp outputs, a 2.0-litre petrol with 250bhp & 300bhp, plus there are two V6 engines as well, a 300bhp diesel & a petrol supercharged version offering 380bhp. However, the entry level Velar is only available with the 180bhp turbodiesel.
As with the Sport & Evoque, there is a basic Velar model available, a no frills option, above which sit the with S, SE & HSE . Each offers slightly more in the way of goodies & extras, with each increasing in price in roughly £5000 chunks. Velar £44,830, S £50,420, SE £56,060 & HSE £62,560. You can also choose an R Dynamic, costing from £52,840 or if you really just haver it all, the range topping First Edition, a more eye watering £83,350.
From the outside the Velar offers a sleek almost coupe-like look, with it’s lower, sleeker rear end & a large screen rake, giving it a much smoother profile than any other Range Rover or Land Rover model. Everything sits flush on the outside with no side steps or chrome add-ons. Even the door handles sit flush, popping out when you click the key fob.
Inside the Velar, it’s a step up for the brand. The high build quality you’d expect from a Range Rover is in abundance, as is the soft touch, plastic, wood & leather that it’s all lovingly finished in. It all fits together perfectly. What stands out though, is the all-new glass cockpit system which shifts the focus more onto the Velars displays & controls. It’s as if Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had some influence on designing this it’s lovely space to be in.
The Velar features the latest Jaguar Land Rover infotainment systems, with the new Touch Pro Duo system the highlight. Twin 10″ touchscreen’s stack on top of each other in the centre console & dashboard, while the addition of 21st century digital dials, mean that the Velar’s interior is more modern than anything seen in a Range Rover product before.
The fact that it doesn’t feature a low-ratio-gear-box, nor the extra weight associated with anti-roll bars you’ll find on the Sport & uses the mostly aluminium platform from sister model F-Pace, shows that the Velar is most definitely aimed at competing with the likes of the Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5 & BMW X3. Having said all that, there is no front-wheel drive version offered. Even the entry-level diesel is 4WD only.
We were lucky enough to test drive the D240 HSE which came sumptuously equipped. Finished in silver with a cream & black interior, everything you’d expect to find on a Range Rover was present, including 20-way electrically adjustable seats finished in softer leather, leather on the dashboard & doors, adaptive cruise control & park assist.
Powered by JLR’s own 2.0-litre, 237bhp four-cylinder twin-turbo Ingenium diesel engine, this version is the most likely best seller for fleets & offers a claimed combined mpg of 48.7 mpg, emissions of 154g/km, a top speed of 125 mph & a rapid 0-60 mph time o just 6.8 seconds.
Sitting up front allows a good view of the road ahead. There’s plenty of head & leg room for both front passenger, although if you climb in the rear, the sloping roof which gives the Velar such a striking look, eats into head room & anyone over six foot may struggle not to rub the inside of the roof with the top of their head.
While the ride on standard steel springs is harsher than on any other Range Rover, the Velar still feels more comfortable and refined than the F-Pace. This likely improves with the more expensive V6 models, as they come with air suspension as standard. Our test model featured 21” alloys, which rode quite well over the pot-holed roads in our neighbourhood. Smaller wheels would I think fair better.
As a drivers car the Velar manages the Range Rover trick of almost wafting magic-carpet-like over the road ahead, with only the odd bump interrupting your progress. The standard 8-speed ZF auto box fits well in the set up, but for those who want a bit more oomph, the D240 engine will feel distinctly unexciting.
By far the highlight of being in the Velar, is the opportunity to enjoy it’s supercool interior. It’s decidedly minimalist as well as cleverly designed with a focus on technology, although surprisingly, there’s no Apple Car Play or Android Auto, which is a real oversight. The digital dials look splendid, the double screens on the centre console & binnacle look fab too & they both work brilliantly as well. My only criticism is that the screens & some of the function buttons do tend to show fingerprints.These include a 12.3″ display ahead of the driver, plus Land Rover’s new Touch Pro Duo System which consists of a 10″ touchscreen in the middle of the dash. When you get in and touch the starter button, the screen tilts forwards up to 30 degrees. Below this sits a 10″ display where the buttons would normally be located. Just have a handy lint cloth to hand to wipe away the smudges.
Cabin storage includes a large glovebox & a usefully sized cubby under the central armrest & there are a couple of nicely designed storage spaces behind the 10″ touchscreen on the dash & the cupholder in the centre console that is hidden from view, until the Land Rover badge near the gear knob is pressed. Nice ! The boot is also a good size offering 673 litres with the 5 seats up & 1,731 litres with the rear bench seats down.
Unsurprisingly, the family Walker didn’t complain once on any journey we took in the Velar. After all, it looks gorgeous & is incredibly comfortable it be in. The up to date tech also appealed to my 17 year old son, who spends more time looking at his iPhone screen than at the rest of the world. The Velars multi-screens had him distracted from his mobile for most of the time. This is a car to make oldies feel young & keep youngsters engaged, whilst cosseting both age groups in equal measure.
In conclusion, the Velar is my new favourite Land Rover product. Looks & functionality on road, are my prerequisites when it comes to picking a vehicle & the Velar is hard to beat. Expensive it may be, but you get what you pay for & the Velar looks so good that neither it’s price nor lack of rear passenger space, spoiled it for me.
A Comfortably Numb 4/5
Range Rover Velar HSE D240 auto
Basic price £64,160