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.

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