Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Modern, cutting-edge minimalist cabin
  • Most of it works very well, too
  • Shame about some of the plastics

If you think the Range Rover Velar looks slick on the outside, take a long- hard look at the interior. With its super-clean dashboard design and slick-looking twin screen infographics and control screen, people who appreciate great design will love spending time here.

The majority of materials within touching distance appear high quality, and what’s more, despite a conscious effort at minimising the number of buttons, the Velar remains surprisingly easy to use. The key to this is undoubtedly the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, which has moved on in leaps and bounds since Jaguar Land Rover started putting touchscreens in its cars.

How good is the infotainment system?

We are used to carmakers shifting controls into touchscreens by now, but this Range Rover was the first to shift to a twin-screen system, to split the controls in a logical manner. Audi introduced a similar idea with the 2018 A8, but it lacks the Velar's mix of touchscreen and physical controls.

Upon first entering the car, design aside nothing appears too spectacular. But press the starter button and the whole interior comes alive – the obvious screen in the middle of the dashboard levers itself forward (above), the dark section of dashboard below this lights up and, where fitted, the sun blind for the panoramic glass roof automatically retracts.

It’s quite the display, particularly when you realise that lower dark section (below) of the dashboard is also a touchscreen; here you control the more important secondary functions such as the climate control and the driving mode selection. A row of tabs at the top of this display make it easy to switch between these functions, which are then controlled via responsive virtual buttons that are commendably easy to activate while driving or the rotary controls on either side.

Everything looks beautiful – the graphics for the different driving modes in particular – but more importantly it all works. It may take you a little while to get used to finding things, but once you do this is perhaps the first touchscreen control system that actually improves on conventional buttons.

Ergonomics could still be better

While the angle of the top touchscreen can be adjusted in the Settings menu to improve visibility, the control layout isn’t perfect.

The positioning of the rotary volume control located on the bottom touchscreen can allow you to accidentally hit the surrounding buttons if you misjudge where it is, especially while driving.

We also discovered that when it comes to typing in an address into the sat-nav on the top touchscreen, the lower palm of your hand can press the bottom touchscreen by mistake – especially if you’ve mistakenly tried resting it there - and end up setting off another function instead; whether it be a drive mode or seat heater control.

The sound system is powerful with a range of Dolby and DTS settings and yet none are particularly clear compared with Volvo, BMW or Audi systems.

Range Rover's sat-nav still not perfect

Continuing this button-free form, the controls on the steering wheel are touch sensitive as well, while there’s another screen for the instruments in place of conventional dials, and a multi-function head-up display available as an option on all models.

We did find the sat-nav system’s routing options occasionally curious – on one journey its optimum route was 45 minutes longer than the one suggested by Google Maps, and that’s not because it was doing anything clever with traffic alerts.

Some poor quality plastics

While the overall impression of the Velar is very high, there are some cheaper feeling plastics – particularly around the seat bases, as you’ll discover when you come to adjust the seats – and the lower door areas.

Top of the range SVAutobiography models have some additional knurling on the rotary climate control switches with matching textured graphics on the digital dials, but considering top-end Velar list prices exceed £80,000 - with finance costs to match - this is bordering on the unacceptable.

But we suspect most buyers will overlook these concerns given the exceptional experience elsewhere in the cabin, once used to how the twin-screen set-up works.

Comfort

  • Suspension makes for a generally comfy ride
  • Doesn’t completely smother bumps, though
  • Refinement not as hushed as we’d hoped

All versions of the Range Rover Velar are available with adaptive suspension as an option – and a Comfort mode. These air suspension systems are generally considered good news for comfort – trading away some handling decisiveness for this very advantage – and that's certainly the case here.

Otherwise, for the most part, this particular Range Rover is a comfortable SUV; journeys of several hundred miles can be completed without any sign of physical complaint. It takes a very rough road indeed to upset the Velar's equilibrium, which is good news for those who rack up large mileages.

It doesn’t entirely sooth away rough surfaces, though – especially those on conventional suspension setups - so you will find that lumps and bumps do send the occasional shockwave through the cabin, and it does come across as slightly jarring in response to these.

Careful with your wheel choices

The large wheel choices – alloys up to 22 inches in diameter are available – don’t help with this issue. It's down to you to decide whether you want to trade in your concept-car looks for a smoother ride, by specifying smaller wheels. If you do go large, we’d suggest combining it with the adaptive suspension option as these soak up ripples better.

Another slightly disappointing aspect is the refinement. We've driven Velars ranging from 20 to 22-inch wheels, and a lot of road noise was present in the cabin. Similarly, we weren’t especially enthralled by the V6 engine’s bellowing sound effects when accelerating, and the four-cylinder diesel's lack of finesse.

Any expectations of a hushed, isolated driving environment are quickly crushed – though this is relative, so in terms of cars in general, the Velar is still pretty quiet. It’s just not quite as quiet as the luxurious interior and premium exterior might lead you to expect.

Thankfully, even the most sporting SVAutobiography isn’t that compromised with its sports suspension, 21-inch wheels and sports exhaust. If anything, the ride is better and the road noise remains at a similar level. The sports exhaust remains pretty hushed at low speeds, unless you switch to the louder setting on the drive modes menu.

The seats are supportive with plenty of support, but the optional massage function for the front items is also rather lame by the latest standards, so sadly you can’t seek solace in that. The use of sustainable, premium textile upholstery as an alternative leather is a nice touch – this is a Dapple Grey finish co-developed with a high-end design textiles maker called Kvadrat. Leather does remain available to those who want it.

Those sat in the rear will be treated to electronically reclining rear seats on higher-spec models, while the SV Autobiography comes with rear climate control, a cooled glovebox, heated steering wheel and black headlining.