Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Wide range of engines covering power and economy
  • Can tow up to 2,500kg, with up to 700Nm of torque
  • Large number of driving modes for every terrain

For the many who will buy the Range Rover Velar based on looks alone, engine performance may be almost inconsequential. However, there is a wide spread of choice that will help tailor your Velar depending on whether you value efficiency or performance.

We deal with fuel economy separately on the Running Costs page, but suffice to say no Velar is what you’d reasonably describe as slow – but some are considerably faster than others.

Range Rover Velar diesel engine choices:

  • D180 – 2.0-litre, 180hp, 430Nm of torque, 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds, 125mph top speed
  • D240 – 2.0-litre, 240hp, 500Nm of torque, 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, 135mph top speed
  • D275 – 3.0-litre, 275hp, 625Nm of torque, 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds, 140mph top speed
  • D300 – 3.0-litre, 300hp, 700Nm of torque, 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds, 150mph top speed

The 2.0-litre engines are four-cylinder turbodiesels, and as you can see, even the slowest Velar gets from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds. And so it proves on the road – In D180 form, it's a little gruff at idle and but reasonably refined once underway. Performance lives up to the figures, although you'd describe its power delivery and pulling power as relaxed, rather than impressive, that perfectly suits the character of the car, especially if you specify it with the comfortable air suspension set-up.

The 3.0-litre engine is a V6: note the massive 700Nm of torque, which is great for towing and challenging off-road work (not that we imagine many Velars will see much of the latter).

Range Rover Velar petrol engine choices:

  • P250 – 2.0-litre, 250hp, 365Nm of torque, 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds, 135mph top speed
  • P300 – 2.0-litre, 300hp, 400Nm of torque, 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds, 145mph top speed
  • P550 – 5.0-litre, 550hp, 680Nm of torque, 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, 170mph top speed

Again, the 2.0-litre engines are four-cylinder motors – these turbo petrols are the newest engines fitted in the Velar. This modernity helps make the slowest-accelerating petrol model almost as quick as the fastest diesel – and it's hard to think of the P250 as an entry-level model given how quick it is on paper.

On the road, it's hard not to be a little disapointed by the P250. It's not that it's lacking in performance – but what doesn't quite gel with this model is the way the performance is delivered. In standard drive mode, it's lazy in its responses and you have to push the accelerator hard to make it accelerate with any sense of urgency. In Dynamic mode, it's much more responsive, but the four-cylinder engine is noisy and isn't really in keeping with the luxury interior. Much of this should probably be blamed on the transmission (below), which doesn't match up too well with this power unit.

Note, also, that even the most powerful 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol – the P550 – is out-gunned for torque by the most powerful diesel Velar, and it's clear that you might want to think about that if you want an effortless drive. Diesel is easily best for everyday running costs and performance – plus, if towing is a priority, a diesel is your best bet.

Brawny V8 engine for SVAutobiography

The most powerful and fruitiest-sounding engine can be found in the SVAutobiography in the form of a 5.0-litre V8, badged P550. Those headline figures listed above are developed with the help of a supercharger and results in an impressively muscular engine, pulling the SVAutobiography from as low as 1,400rpm and does so without struggling or feeling like it’ll shake the Velar to bits.

It’ll rev cleanly throughout the range, accompanied with the faint hint of a supercharger whine, and you don’t have to work the engine hard to gather a considerable turn of pace. If you do, though, this engine remains strong and doesn’t suffer from its power tailing off towards the redline.

The sports exhaust is also smile-inducingly loud, but not as anti-social as the system fitted to the Range Rover Sport SVR.

Engines no longer available

A 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine used to be the flagship engine before the SVAutobiography. Badged P380, this takes 5.3 seconds to sprint 0-62mph, while the 155mph top speed is electronically limited.

Four-wheel drive and eight-speed transmission as standard

Every Velar comes with four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. But it's probably the Velar’s weakest area in an otherwise polished performance. Though similar to units used by other carmakers, in the Velar it often seems indecisive, hunting around for the optimum gear on twistier roads.

It’s also far from being the smoothest transmission we’ve ever experienced – proving particularly jerky when called upon for a sudden downshift due to hard acceleration. It somewhat undermines the intended luxuriousness of Velar travel as a result.

You can take manual control using paddle-shifters on the steering wheel, either temporarily in the regular Drive mode or permanently if activated in the Sport setting (simply hold the upshift paddle to revert to automatic).

Manual shifts are reasonably responsive, but again not the smoothest or as sharp as rivals with double-clutch transmissions. And sadly, the paddles fitted to the majority of Velars are made from plastic, with only the SVAutobiography coming with aluminium items.

As for the four-wheel drive system, this delivers good traction on and off-road, which means that no matter how powerful the engine you’ll rarely find the Velar struggling for traction in regular driving.

In fact, a vast array of driving modes mean you’re unlikely to struggle whatever the circumstances. We’ve covered these in the Handling section below.

How does it handle?

  • Adaptive damping as standard
  • Plus air suspension on V6 models
  • Very capable on and off road

If you want the most satisfying performance SUV to drive in this segment, it’s simple: buy a Porsche Macan. That said, while the Range Rover Velar can’t match its German rival for precision and depth of handling talent, it is nonetheless an engaging steer, and not just for a vehicle of its size. You can genuinely have a great deal of fun driving one of these.

However, if you're looking for a comfortable and satisfying car to drive and live with, then the Velar gets the nod. Besides, the Velar steers and handles with more agility than its lardy kerbweight and ample dimensions give it any right to – and for many, the overtly sporting Porsche Macan isn't as pleasant to live with on Britain's potholed roads.

Range Rover Velar: Adaptive suspension

All models are available with adaptive air suspension as an option, while the SVAutobiography comes with it as part of its sports suspension setup. This combines better ride quality with composed body control, making for a Range Rover that feels relatively nimble – we won’t go as far as saying this is a Range Rover Evoque in terms of agility, but this’ll inspires confidence and reassurance especially for those used to the larger and more luxury-focussed siblings.

It’s an expensive option, but worth it to polish up the Velar’s driving experience - especially if you have the larger wheels fitted.

What is the Range Rover Velar like to drive?

Taking that air suspension caveat into account, this is a fundamentally well-sorted machine. The control weights – such as the steering and the brakes – are typically rather light, and don’t offer a great deal of feedback. But they didn’t leave us feeling completely out of touch, and suit the generally laid back nature of what is after all supposed to be a luxurious vehicle.

Throw it at a country road, however – or even a sequence of roundabouts – and the Velar is happy to respond with enthusiasm; body roll is present but not excessive, and combined with a powerful engine you can make rapid progress.

But this is a large, relatively long vehicle, and you never completely escape this impression of substantial bulk from behind the wheel. We were always conscious that there was a lot of Velar behind us, for example, and threading it through tight streets can be a slightly nervous affair.

The standard suspension setup has been setup for comfort but is firm enough for the Velar to feel composed – it trades some of the firmness found on the closely-related Jaguar F-Pace for comfort and feels more comfortable for it, but you can go one further and be better isolated from mid-corner bumps with the optional air suspension. Overall, it’s a suitable balance for a Range Rover, but the smaller size benefits it’s agility here.

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.

SVAutobiography adds sporting performance

With an already balanced chassis, the SVAutobiography goes incrementally further to provide a more driver-focussed experience. You get larger brakes and adaptive sports suspension, while the Configurable Dynamics drive mode allows you to individually tweak the suspension firmness, throttle response, steering weight and how soon the gearbox changes gear.

The SVAutobiography also has an electronic rear differential to maximise traction levels for the rear wheels, which is not only useful on the road from a performance perspective, but also if you plan to take your Velar off-road. All Velars come with torque vectoring by braking, which already aims to improve traction and grip, but the upgraded differential is optional on all models.

Otherwise, the SVA’s steering is sharp for a Land Rover, but still trails the pin-sharp response of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio – especially off-centre, although some may find the Italian rival a touch nervous to drive.

Despite the improved body control, the suspension actually provides a better ride quality compared with the regular models, and so manages to remain comfortable for everyday use.

The small amount of body roll might not please the more hardcore enthusiasts, and some might view this ride and handling balance as a non-committal halfway house, in that it’s neither a fully-fledged luxury or sporting SUV, but this broad depth of ability remains just on the right side of comfort and suits the Velar’s ethos – if you want more agility and firmness with your V8 SUV, get the Jaguar F-Pace SVR.

A wide choice of driving modes

Range Rovers have famously employed a Terrain Response system for many years – which adapts to different types of surfaces and driving. What’s potentially confusing is that there are three systems with similar names available on the Velar.

Basic Terrain Response comes as standard on all models, and this includes Eco, Comfort, Grass-Gravel-Snow, Mud-Ruts and Sand settings – plus an additional Dynamic mode if you opt for a sporty R-Dynamic version of the Velar.

Each setting makes adjustments to the engine, transmission, all-wheel drive, suspension and stability control in an effort to help you make the easiest possible progress wherever you’re driving.

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).

Off-raoding aided by Terrain Response

As an optional extra you can upgrade to Terrain Response 2, which adds an Automatic setting so you don’t even need to touch the controls to get the benefit.

In addition to this there is also All Terrain Progress Control, which is described as a low-speed cruise control system intended to make off-road driving easier. The idea is that it allows the driver to concentrate on steering without having to worry about grip and traction, regardless of how tricky the ground is and whether you’re going up or downhill. Both these extras are reasonably priced.

Other driving tricks include things like Hill Descent Control, as you’d expect, but there’s also a system called Low Traction Launch, which helps you start moving on slippery surfaces – such as snow, where conventional stability control systems often struggle.

It will also wade 600mm of water, rising to 650mm with the air suspension package. To say the least, the Velar is comprehensive.

What’s more, most of these functions are controlled via the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system – which manages the remarkable feat of looking astonishingly good while still proving user-friendly, intuitive and minimalist.