The fourth Range Rover sets sail against the BMW X4 and Porsche Macan
- Great-looking new SUV
- High-tech, premium interior
- Fabulous long-distance capability
- Dynamically not a match for the Porsche Macan
- No hybrid option
- Premium quality means premium price
If you’re one of those people who think that all Land Rovers look like Range Rovers these days, and all Range Rovers look alike, then you’ll probably respond to the Velar like Brenda from Bristol reacting to the general election: ’What, another one? You’re joking!’
Where does the new Range Rover Velar fit?
The average Evoque with a few optional extras added leaves the showroom as a £45,000 car; the average Range Rover Sport costs around £70,000. Range Rover reckons there’s a gap there, and the new Velar is aimed squarely at it: at launch prices range between £44,830 for the entry level diesel and £85,450 for the limited ‘First Edition’ with all the bells and whistles.
But the new Velar is more than just an exercise in market segmentation, it’s a stunning new interpretation of the Range Rover brand, the latest step in the long evolution from the utilitarian 4x4 of 1970 (with plastic seats!) to a 21st-century luxury GT.
Range Rover Velar: a gorgeous-looking SUV
Land Rover’s head of design Gerry McGovern talks about a ‘reductive’ approach to the Velar’s styling – stripping away fussy details to create a smooth, futuristic look. It’s also the most aerodynamic car Land Rover has ever produced.
There’s a wealth of lovely details, such as the slender LED headlights, and the flush-fitting door handles that pop out when you unlock it. It looks dynamic too, with its tapered tail and raked-back windscreen.
Altogether there’s a resemblance of a concept car in the Velar’s purity, and it makes the other Ranger Rovers look positively frumpy in comparison.
What’s under the Velar's skin?
The Velar is based on the same basic chassis as the Jaguar F-Pace, with double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear. Land Rover’s air suspension is an option on the four-cylinder models and standard on the V6s.
There are six engines in total, three turbodiesels with 180hp, 240hp and a 300hp 3.0-litre V6; and three petrol engines, a 250hp four-cylinder, a 300hp V6 and a top of the range supercharged V6 that puts out 380hp.
Combine that with the aluminium-intensive monocoque and four-wheel-drive grip, and the Velar will sprint from 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds.
What’s the Range Rover Velar like inside?
Like the exterior, the Velar’s interior is a design triumph. The dashboard is dominated by two 10-inch colour touchscreens that work in tandem: the upper one is a more conventional sat-nav screen, while the lower one is integrated into the centre console with curved edges like a modern phone screen.
The rotary dials are multifunctional, their graphics changing according to the settings you’re changing. They’re tactile and grippy, modelled on camera lenses. Despite a sleeker roofline and a more reclined screen, the driving position is pure Range Rover – you sit high with great visibility, hands gripping a sculpted, chunky wheel.
Our example was fitted with a panoramic glass roof, a £1,115 option, filling the cabin with light. Another option is a brand-new wool-based trim material, developed with Scandinavian textile company Kvadrat. It softens the interior while maintaining a premium feel. Overall the Velar’s ultra-modern interior moves Range Rover’s game on in both technology and luxury.
What’s it like to drive?
Our test car was a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel fitted with the air-suspension. On its lowest ride setting the Velar is comfortable and incredibly stable. Delve into the touchscreen menus and switch everything to the Dynamic setting and the car stiffens, the steering and throttle response sharpen, but don’t imagine it turns into a sports car.
The Velar feels accurate and willing, and the eight-speed gearbox works well with the paddleshift; but in a bid to feel rock-solid and planted on the road, it never dances lightly.
Instead, the Velar’s set-up and character suits a long-distance, less frenetic pace – crossing continents at 100mph rather than tackling a switchback road.
Can the Range Rover Velar still off-road?
While the Velar probably can’t manage the full swamp-driving, boulder-climbing trick that a full-size Range Rover can still do (it hasn’t got the wheel articulation), it’s nevertheless an off-roader like any other Land Rover product.
The spec carefully lists approach and departure angles, Terrain Response along with the air suspension can jack the car up till it looks like it’s on stilts, and of course there are a million (almost) electronic systems on board.
One is the Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD), which uses sensors that measure steering wheel angle, throttle position, yaw rate and lateral acceleration to continually estimate the amount of grip, and distribute torque accordingly.
As part of our test drive we tackled a steep rocky climb, the surface broken into craggy rubble. Needless to say, the Velar drove straight up, and virtually drove itself down using the latest off-road cruise control system, All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC). So many acronyms – they should just replace them all with IWGA(P) – It Will Go Anywhere (Practically).
The world probably wasn’t crying out for a fourth Range Rover model, but now it’s here it’s clearly going to be a massive hit. The looks are a big part of that – yes, all Range Rovers have a similar family face, but this is a stunning car in the metal, especially in silver with the optional 22-inch wheels.
There’s also that interior, with the advanced screen technology and that innovative Kvadrat fabric. As a long-distance GT – the kind of car that could sweep you effortlessly from London to Berlin – the new Velar is a serious new contender.