Velar driving Range Rover's future
Velar, the fourth member of the Range Rover family, reveals an exciting new era and direction for the luxury brand, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Half a century ago Land Rover was working on a model that launched Range Rover. It was code-named Velar, from the latin ‘velare’ – to hide.
It’s fitting the all-new, fourth member of the Range Rover family revives the name as it unveils new design, styling and technology for the brand. I’ve felt Land Rover and Range Rover models have been losing their specific identities – Velar’s distinctive new look changes that.
Looks and image
The mid-size Velar SUV plugs the £30,000 gap between the cheapest Evoque and Sport model. It’s most streamlined, road-biased Range Rover but is still capable off-road.
By Range Rover standards, it’s something of a radical revolution, rather than evolution, with the brand’s slimmest-ever headlights and door handles that glide out, then retract flush, for better aerodynamics.
Under the bonnet
Plenty of choice with four-cylinder, 2.0-litre 250 and 300PS turbo petrol and 180 and 240PS diesel and 3.0-litre V6 turbo 300PS diesel and supercharged 380PS petrol engines all with eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 240PS diesel was refined once warm, propelling 1,841kg of big SUV along briskly, especially in dynamic mode, but needs a good prod of the throttle to get going, reflected in a best of 40mpg and 35mpg running around. It’s worth considering the 3.0-litre diesel, especially as V6 models get standard air suspension, rather than coil springs, which is a £1,140 option on four-cylinder models.
Standard four-wheel drive, with Terrain Response modes to tweak the engine, gearbox and drive systems to match the conditions, will meet most needs but more advanced off-road technologies are optional.
How it drives
Air suspension brings out the best in the Velar experience, wafting along motorways, soaking up rough roads even with 21in wheels although there is some buzz through the steering wheel. In comfort and eco modes body roll is more pronounced, dynamic sharpens things up but the ride is more sensitive but it’s a satisfactory trade-off and makes the Velar quite nimble on cross-country routes but can’t disguise its size.
You can also raise and lower the ride height for extra ground clearance off-road and better aerodynamics at speed and easier access.
Space and comfort
The interior is exquisitely finished with top-notch materials and attention to detail – lots of leather, squidgy trim and twin stitching.
Those up front are well catered for but, while headroom is plentiful all round, there’s not as much rear legroom as you’d expect – six-footers can cope but won’t have much spare space in the cosseting, supportive seats.
The boot goes back a long way and 632 litres sounds impressive but that’s to the roof. The reality is it’s quite shallow, with a high floor and no underfloor storage with the optional full-size spare wheel. Rear seat backs split 40/20/40 and fold flat.
At the wheel
Another area where the Velar raises Range Rover’s game with two high-definition 10-inch touchscreens –Touch Pro Duo. You can adjust functions and settings on one, or use rotary knobs which control whichever function is selected – easier on the move, while displaying infotainment on the other.
SE models upwards also get a 12.3in virtual instrument cluster which can display traditional dials and information panel or a full navigation map with a small speedo.
Innovative capacitive, hidden-until-lit switches on the steering wheel for a host of regularly-used functions add to the fascia’s uncluttered feel but take practice to master.
The Velar is a modern interpretation of Range Rover – the sleek, rakish exterior stylish is something you appreciate with time but the hi-tech, digital fascia is an instant hit. The Velar reveals Range Rover is reinventing itself for the future.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Range Rover Velar HSE D240 from £64,160 (range £44,830 to £85,450)
Engine: 240hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel with eight-speed automatic transmission
Performance: 0-60mph 6.8 seconds; top speed 135mph
MPG: Urban 39.2; extra urban 55.4; combined 49.7
CO2 emissions: 154g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 32pc
Insurance group: (out of 50) 42
Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,803mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,145mm; H 1,665mm