What is it?
The Range Rover Velar is an all-new mid-sized SUV from Land Rover.
Stylish exterior design, off-road ability, clever interior
The Range Rover Velar is an impressive new contender in the upmarket SUV market, combining capability with refinement, quality of build and a ramped-up styling treatment.
It’s not cheap but you get a lot of car for the money, as capable on or off-road as it is good looking.
The newest Range Rover model displays the oldest name – Velar was a designation used to disguise original Range Rover prototypes when they were testing ahead of their official reveal.
It’s an appropriate new moniker for a new model because the Velar presents a clear shift in Land Rover design consideration. The stylists appear to have been given much more scope than previously, this a Range Rover sold as much on its looks as its capability.
And it does look good – the most aerodynamic vehicle that Land Rover has made is all about curves, especially on the body corners that have been rounded to a degree never previously seen. The Velar strikes a purposeful stance, more sporty than the Range Rover Sport.
There are nice detailing touches too, such as the handles that pop out of the door skin as you approach the car and fold away flush as soon as you move off. Mind you they need to, because they are not very attractive handles when out…
Anything built by Land Rover has always been sold on its off-road ability and so it may seem surprising that this one does not include as much ‘rough stuff’ hardware as some of its siblings. But it’s still very much a Land Rover, which means it’s more off-road capable than most of its rivals.
In terms of size, it’s not easy to pigeon-hole the Velar. It’s a paradox, a sort of large small SUV, fitting in the gap between the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport.
Deciding on its core rivals is just as difficult. You might consider this between a BMW X4 and X6, because it’s sized between them. Similarly the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is an alternative, but you might equally go for a Velar in preference to the smaller Mercedes GLC. It squeezes itself a gap between Porsche Macan and Cayenne, while its closest rival in some ways is the Jaguar F-Pace, sharing its platform but the Range Rover having more capability.
Buying and owning a Range Rover Velar
A basic structure from the Jaguar F-Pace gives the Velar a lightweight but strong shell, 82% of which is aluminium. Into this is installed one of seven powerplant options.
Two diesel engines are each available with a pair of outputs – the 2.0-litre is one of Jaguar Land Rover’s new ‘Ingenium’ units and comes with either a single turbocharger and 180hp or two turbos and 240hp. For more power, it’s the older-style twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 with 275 or 300hp.
Those preferring petrol propulsion can choose between a 2.0-litre Ingenium turbo engine with 250hp or with its boost uprated to offer 300hp. Finally, there is a flagship model produced by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations department, dubbed SVAutobiography and powered by a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 with 550hp on tap.
The core trim levels are dubbed Velar, S, SE and HSE, and each can also be specified in an ‘R-Dynamic’ version with mostly styling extras.
Price will likely not be the governing factor when buying a Velar. It starts from £45,260, but you won’t get a lot for that. You can effectively ignore the bottom two trim levels, especially as only SE and above include the superb three-screen interior, more of which directly.
SE prices start from £53,450 and you will likely also want to up your specification from an extensive options list – our test car, with the middle of three diesel power outputs and the top of three core trim levels, would set us back a cool £62k even without options such as the £725 ‘Firenze Red’ metallic paint and the £1,115 panoramic roof…
Safety is a strong point in the Range Rover Velar – the car scored and when it was tested in 2017 was described by the safety body as one of Europe’s safest SUVs.
Alongside the often overlooked safety feature of all-wheel drive (unlike the Evoque, there is no front-wheel-drive Velar), autonomous emergency braking also comes as standard, as does a lane-keeping aid, driver monitor and front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera.
It’s worth noting, however, that the autonomous braking only works up to 50mph. For emergency braking from motorway speeds you need the ‘Drive Pack’, which also includes adaptive cruise control and blind-spot assist.
There’s also a ‘Park Pack’ that will steer the car into a suitable space and includes a rear-traffic monitor when reversing out, and sensors all round the car. A 360-degree surround camera and the blind-spot assist are also available as options. Or you can bite the bullet and specify the ‘Driver Assist’ pack which includes all the above options and a steering aid.
All of which is another reason to ignore the entry-level grades. SE-level cars get the Park Pack as standard, and the HSE versions also include the Drive Pack.
Inside the Range Rover Velar
You can’t fail to be impressed by the inside of the Velar – its design is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, from the shapes to the finish of the surfaces, the quality and colour of the leathers.
It is immediately clear that this is an upmarket car even if one ignores that options list – 14 different choices in seat adjustment and heating?
Highlight is definitely the centre console which boasts not one but two ten-inch touchscreens – one mounted atop the console and the second at its base. These work in conjunction with each other, allowing for example the navigation to be on the top one while the infotainment or climate controls are on the other.
As a result not only is there less need to scroll through menu functions (itself a safety gain) but the overall number of controls can be reduced, making for a clean, high-tech look. There are just two rotary controls on the dash – no sea of buttons here.
Your centre console screens can be further integrated with the 12-inch digital dash display (standard on SE up) and the head-up display – should you specify the latter as a £930 option…
Your reviewer does admit to a couple of days’ frustration on initial use of the various touchscreens – they did not appear that user-friendly. But once you master the system, it’s a revelation, versatile and efficient.
The interior is bright and airy, especially on cars with the panoramic roof. And while this is a lower-slung, aerodynamic Range Rover, the driving position remains high, with an excellent view all around.
It scores too on space, particularly in the rear, a particularly tall family member commenting that the Velar was the first mid-sized test car he had felt truly comfortable travelling in the back of, both in terms of head and legroom. Boot space is impressive too, though with an awkward large loading lip through the electronic tailgate (gesture activated on SE models and above).
Driving the Range Rover Velar
We have yet worked our way through all the Velar engine options but the 2.0-litre 240hp diesel unit in our test car is a good mid-range option. A shade under eight seconds to 62mph is plenty quick enough for most owners and returns decent fuel economy and excellent refinement.
This is the most dynamic, least in-your-face Range Rover yet and it shows on the road. Even with the standard suspension on our test car (electronic air suspension is a £1,140 option), it rides in great comfort, better even than its Jaguar F-Pace sister.
Some of the worst road bumps are transmitted to occupants, though a contributory factor to this can be the 21-inch wheels fitted as standard to HSE variants. You can ‘downsize’ to the 20, 19 or even 18-inch rims offered on lower grades for no cost, but the 21-inchers do fill the arches rather attractively…
This may be the sportiest Range Rover yet but it still majors on comfort rather than sharp dynamics. The auto transmission wafts through its ratios almost dismissively, while cornering even at pace is effortless rather than involving. It is very easy, as we did, to clock up many hundreds of miles in this car without really thinking about it.
Few owners will take their Velar seriously off road, but as mentioned it is as capable of mud-plugging as any other Land Rover – it will traverse water up to 65cm deep for example.
However, most of the clever off-road stuff requires further delving into the options list. Terrain Response, with its six driving modes from comfort to snow, mud and ruts, comes as standard, but the automatic Terrain Response 2 is an option, as is All-Terrain Progress Control, effectively an off-road cruise control. They can all be wrapped up with the air suspension and some other off-road aids in a ‘Dynamic Handling Pack’, adding £920 to your bill.
The Range Rover Velar impresses immediately with its exterior looks and adds greatly to that impression with a beautifully crafted interior.
A Range Rover it certainly is, with an on-road performance to match the upmarket visuals and no lack of off-road capability despite doing without some of the technology of its sister models.
The Range Rover Velar is by no means the cheapest option in this market – but that will likely not bother most of its target market. This is a significant new contender in the ranks of upmarket SUVs.
- Stylish looks
- High tech interior
- On and off-road capability
- Might be considered pricey compared to rivals
- Most buyers will be tempted by the options list
- Multi touchscreen systems can be initially confusing
|Make & model||Range Rover Velar||BMW X6||Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe|
|Specification||HSE D240||xDrive30d M Sport Edition||GLE 350 d 4MATIC AMG Night Edition|
|Engine||2.0-litre diesel||3.0-litre diesel||3.0-litre diesel|
|Gearbox||8-speed auto, AWD||8-speed auto, AWD||9-speed auto, AWD|
|Power||240 hp||258 hp||258 hp|
|Torque||500 Nm||560 Nm||620 Nm|
|0-62mph||7.6 seconds||6.7 seconds||7.0 sec|
|Top speed||135 mph||143 mph||140 mph|
|Fuel economy (combined)||48.7 mpg (NEDC)||40.0 mpg (NEDC)||36.2 mpg (NEDC)|
|CO2 emissions||154 g/km||183 g/km||205 g/km|
|Euro NCAP rating||Not tested||– GLE|