This review is about a Range Rover and we bet that what you’re expecting to see is an upright regal SUV that’s suitable only for a Lord or the Queen. If so, then you’re mistaken.
The car we’re reviewing is actually the Velar and we have to say it looks absolutely stunning. It’s the forth Range Rover in the line-up and sits between the Evoque and the Sport. It can count everything from the Jaguar F-Pace to the Porsche Cayenne as a rival due to its size and large engine range. The Velar name was what the original prototype Range Rovers were called in the 1960s. However, this really is as old as the Velar gets. With its sloped roofline, tapered rear end and pop-out door handles it really is sleek, stylish and ultra cool – and this is just the exterior!
It gets even better when you sit inside the Velar. There’s probably more to talk about than we can fit into this review so we need to keep things a brief as possible. So, all Velars come as standard with two screens. The top screen tilts forwards when you get in and switch on the ignition. This screen is home to your navigation, media and your phone. The screen just below, is home to your terrain response system, the climate control settings, the seat settings and so on. There are only three physical buttons, the two rotary knobs sits either side while the volume knob sits in-between. All but the entry level car has a TFT screen for your instruments just like you find on the big daddy Range Rover. The sense of quality around the cabin is mostly very good indeed. There’s lots of lovely leathers, lots of nice plastics – just as you find on the big Range Rover. However, if you look very closely then you’ll find some scratchy plastics around the bottom of the doors. There is quite a lot of storage dotted around with well-crafted and well-hidden cup holders. The glove compartment is of a decent size as is too the door bins.
Entry-level Velars come with the two central screens, imitation leather seats, autonomous emergency breaking, keyless entry, cruise control, 18 inch alloys and LED headlights. The S trim will cost you a further £5,000 but gets you the TFT dials, full leather, electric seats and a Meridian stereo. The SE is the next trim level up while the HSE tops the range with its matrix lights and passive safety systems. R Dynamic cars adds sporty styling while there is also a First Edition available that gives you absolutely every option.
When you sit in the back you’ll find that it’s a bit of a mixed bag. If you’re around 5ft 10 tall then you’ll have plenty of head and leg room. However, if you’ve got a 6ft driver and a 6ft passenger back here then you may struggle for space. Unfortunately, it does feel a little on the claustrophobic side. This is mainly because the benched seats are positioned quite low. You’ve also got dark roof-lining while the windows are quite narrow and high up. You’re going to struggle to fit three people along the back and the seat in the middle is quite narrow. The foot-wells are also a little on the small side so everyone’s going to be struggling for foot-space. There are quite a lot of conveniences back here though such as the airline style pockets at the back of the front seats. You can also spec to include a rear seat infotainment system. You’ve also got a nice set of climate control settings down below as well as UBS charging ports behind the armrest.
Despite the curvaceous proportions of the Velar it actually has quite a big boot. The size fits somewhere between the Audi Q5 and the Audi Q7. It’s got a really good square shape too but one thing to mention is that if you opt for the spare wheel then you won’t get any underfloor storage. If you fold down the rear seats then you get an almost flat loading area however, there is one bad thing about this boot. This is that there’s a step down from the boot floor onto the backs of the seats. What this means is that pushing items to the back is just a little bit harder than it should be. One other thing about the Velar is that unlike the big daddy Range Rovers you don’t get a split tailgate which is a bit of a shame.
Engine-wise, the Velar is available with three diesels and three petrols units. The D180 and D240 diesels are both 2.0 litre four cylinder units while the D300 is a 3.0 litre V6. Buyers after a petrol Velar can have a four cylinder 2.0 litre P250 and P300 engines and there’s also a 3.0 litre P380 V6 supercharged petrol. The 2.0 litre engines are absolutely fine as both are efficient and economical enough. However, it’s the 3.0 litre diesel that really is the cream of the range. Its power delivery is smooth, punchy and it’s mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox which seems to fire through gears seamlessly. This really makes the Velar a wonderful, refined and cossetting car to travel around in. Economy is roughly what you’d expect from a large SUV. Choose a Velar with a diesel engine and you’ll efficiently see between 52 and 44 mpg (miles per gallon). The best the petrol range can manage is 37 mpg. Now, whilst the Velar is more comfort orientated is doesn’t mean that it doesn’t handle well. According to Range Rover the Velar is the most dynamic Range Rover in the range and they aren’t kidding. The chassis feels nice and agile whilst the steering, although a bit slow, is direct enough. There’s also great body control due to the air suspension which you can get for about £1,000. If you go for the V6 versions then air suspension comes as standard.
There is one negative thing about the Velar and it simply comes down to price. Yes you may be able to buy one for just under £45,000 but you won’t want it. This is because it will come with virtually no equipment whatsoever. In a couple of months (as of writing) you may be able to pick a decent one up on the used car market but realistically you’re going to be looking at around £60,000 for something that has all of the tech that you want. You also need to bear in mind that the First Edition is over £84,000!
Overall, the Velar is an ultra-desirable SUV. It has the same special feeling that you get when you dive the big Range Rover. While it is pricey, who said style and fashion come cheap!