THE RANGE GROWS
Prior to a comprehensive drive in the next issue, we sampled the newest Range Rover around Kyalami
ARange Rover isn’t typically the type of car to pilot around a racetrack. However, at the recent SA Motoring Experience at Kyalami, Land Rover South Africa surprised us by whipping the covers off the new Velar and handing over the keys. Tough to say no...
It was the flagship P380 R-dynamic HSE powered by JLR’S supercharged 3,0 V6. Offering 280 kw and 450 N.m, on paper it’s a muscular powerplant, although it does have to shift the Velar’s equally meaty 1 884 kg mass. A racetrack is not its natural environment, so I wouldn’t read too much into the noticeable amount of body roll and understeer tendencies the vehicle displayed. You do tend to calibrate dynamic expectancies up a notch or three when on a track and, given its electronic air suspension and heavy front- end, those characteristics were inevitable at speed, despite the Velar’s torque-vectoring system working overtime.
What I was particularly interested in experiencing was the Velar’s interior, a sophisticated, minimalist design destined to filter through to future Range Rovers. This striking layout certainly has had the world’s press talking and it boasts a host of new features, including the Touch Pro Duo dual-touchscreen infotainment system and revised multifunction steering wheel that gives the cabin a neat, futuristic look and feel.
There are now far fewer buttons for the infotainment system and climate controls but, while it is easier to navigate, as always, the downside with this approach is that you do need to take your eyes off the road to operate the system.
The Velar HSE’S interior offers an experience of luxury and comfort you would find in the more expensive Range Rovers, with perforated Windsor leather seats and leather steering wheel with chrome bezels that offer a premium, bespoke feel and complement the cabin’s high perceived quality.
Our press unit wasn’t dressed up with too many options, yet the four-zone climate control, surround camera system with wade sensing, an active rear locking differential and an eightinch rear seat entertainment system still added an extra R125 200 to the sticker price. At nearly R1,5 million, that’s almost R100 000 more than the Sport SCV6 HSE from our Top 12 Best Buys-winning range.
There are, however, cheaper models in the line-up, with prices starting at R947 700 for the 2,0-litre turbodiesel D180 (less than both the larger entry-level BMW X5 and Mercedes-benz GLE with four-cylinder diesels).
Based on our short drive, the Velar looks to be a promising halfway point between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport ... but we will reserve final judgement until we get to spend time with the vehicle away from a racetrack.