PICK ME UP
On the road in a Range Rover Velar P250
When I heard the new Range Rover Velar P250 had been named the most beautifully designed vehicle on the planet*, I had to get behind the wheel to experience it for myself. Beginning with day-to-day activities like coffee runs and school pick-ups, and ending with a lengthy road trip to the top of the bottom of the world, Cape Reinga, I decided to put it through its paces for a week.
With its relatively modest two-litre engine, the Velar is classed as an entry-level Range Rover, designed to be more accessible to Kiwi motorists. But if you think the words ‘entry level’ mean cutting corners on design and comfort, you’re mistaken. Somehow, even with the reduced price point, Land Rover has managed to deliver a well-rounded, premium-feeling vehicle.
The first words that came to mind when I laid eyes on the Velar were ‘luxe’ and ‘expensive’, though it can be yours for an attractive $119,900. The exterior is certainly on par with the rest of the Range Rover stable. Its low ceiling design — not too dissimilar from the Evoque — feels sporty and modern. It has the signature Range Rover floating roof but is sleeker, lower and smaller than the Sport, and its flush retracting door handles give it a clean aerodynamic look, shaving a few inches off the waistline. The design also plays into my own internal battle around larger SUVs. As it’s just me and my son Paddy (plus Lockie the dog), I prefer to drive something
on the petite side. This car doesn’t seem obnoxious or oversized, and so feels more socially acceptable in comparison to larger SUV options. Plus, it takes up considerably less space when parallel parking on the school run. The reverse camera comes in handy here too, with a very wide perspective out the back, and bird’s-eye views so even a novice parker can manoeuvre like a pro. Not that I need help.
Something that appealed as soon as I fired her up was the (optional) Head-up Display, which shows key vehicle data in the windscreen. There are also two 10-inch HD touchscreens (standard). Chic, modern and beautifully designed, the cabin feels like a jump from cattle class to business class when compared to other Range Rovers I’ve driven in the past. The advanced infotainment system is music to my ears and I’m partial to a car that will play your Spotify or Apple Music playlist from where you left off. Another feature I really rate is the Matrix-laser LED headlights, which produce an effect similar to daylight, illuminating everything in your path while reducing eye fatigue. Once you reach speeds of 80kmph or more, the light automatically brightens to increase visibility. Detecting oncoming vehicles, laser technology effectively creates shadows around other cars, saving them from the brunt of your beam, while you continue to benefit from it.
Another nifty feature is the InControl Remote app, which allows you to lock and unlock, check fuel and locate your vehicle, all from a smartphone or watch. It’s even possible to start the engine and set the climate-control system remotely — very Knight Rider. Then there’s the option to upgrade to Kvadrat-designed seats in New Zealand merino wool blended with recycled plastic bottles to create an environmentally friendly faux suede, which adds some watercooler talkability.
Providing peak peace of mind on our drive from Auckland to New Zealand’s uppermost point, there’s a panic button that can notify emergency services of the location of the vehicle. And in the unlikely event of a breakdown, Optimised Assistance sends location and diagnostics to a recovery company. Thoughtful and good-looking, this one’s a real catch. *Winner of World Car Design of the Year at the 2018 World Car Awards.
I’m partial to a car that will play your Spotify or Apple Music playlist from where you left off.
The Velar P250 was put to the test on a roadie from Auckland to Cape Reinga (below).
FQ editor Sally-Ann (below) admires the vehicle’s eye-catching yet low-key design.
Paddy (right) and Lockie the dog both gave the interior their seal of approval.
The reverse camera curbs any concerns when parallel parking.
From coffee to kids, the Velar P250 takes care of the daily grind in style.