DRIV­ING IM­PRES­SION

There aren’t many Range Rover own­ers who would ever con­sider do­ing what we did with a Velar, but some­one had to do it. Blame Cyril Klop­per.

Go! Camp & Drive - - CONTENTS -

Dur­ing the launch of the Velar, Land Rover’s mar­ket­ing peo­ple claimed that it was just as ca­pa­ble as any other Range Rover. The mo­tor­ing journos present on that day po­litely nod­ded their heads but they snig­gered scep­ti­cally amongst one an­other. We re­cently tack­led three 4x4 routes near Montagu, in the Cape (read all about it on p.44), to see if there was any merit to this as­ser­tion. Our test ve­hi­cle boasted a red metal­lic paint job and was kit­ted out with 20” Pirelli Scor­pion Verde allsea­son tyres – not ex­actly per­fect for off-road­ing. For­tu­nately the Velar’s air sus­pen­sion af­forded good ground clear­ance be­cause we would need ev­ery mil­lime­tre of it... >

Ap­pear­ances count

If you like the look of the Range Rover Velar, you’re in good com­pany be­cause the judges at the Fes­ti­val Au­to­mo­bile In­ter­na­tional in Paris, France, awarded the Velar’s de­signer, Gerry McGowan, its high­est hon­our: the Grand Prix du De­sign tro­phy. We’ve al­ready praised the Velar’s ap­pear­ance, both in­side and out, in go! Drive & Camp #6, so we’re shift­ing our fo­cus else­where.

Un­der the bon­net

Our test ve­hi­cle was pow­ered by a 3 ℓ 90° V6 petrol en­gine with vari­able valve tim­ing and twin su­per­charg­ers. When you put pedal to the metal the ex­haust roars like a Kgala­gadi lion and the Velar takes off with a hel­luva speed. Ac­cord­ing to our own stop­watch it goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 sec­onds (0.2 sec­onds faster than the of­fi­cial fig­ure. You’re wel­come, Land Rover) and the G-force dis­play on the info screen shows that your body weighs twice as much un­der fast ac­cel­er­a­tion. The brochure claimed that our Velar topped out at 250 km/h, but we didn’t try it. (Just as well. You wouldn’t have been able to claim back your fine as a busi­ness ex­pense. – Ed) This V6, the same en­gine found in a Jaguar F-Type, sends power to all four wheels via an eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. The all-wheel drive em­ploys soft­ware called In­tel­li­gent Driv­e­line Dy­nam­ics (IDD) that can send 100% of the en­gine power to the front or rear axle or di­vide it into any per­cent­age be­tween the two axles.

How it drives

The Velar’s stan­dard ride height of 213 mm is okay, but thanks to the air sus­pen­sion you can hoist it up to 251 mm. It’s not as tall as a Pa­trol or a Cruiser, but it is suf­fi­cient for most 4x4 trails.

You can turn the trac­tion con­trol off if you want, but we highly rec­om­mend that you leave the Velar to its own de­vices.

Range Rover’s Ter­rain Re­sponse 2 is an im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous sys­tem and there are now sen­sors that mon­i­tor road con­di­tions and au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs trac­tion con­trol, sus­pen­sion, and power dis­tri­bu­tion. You can switch the trac­tion con­trol off if you like, but we highly rec­om­mend that you leave the Velar to its own de­vices. The soft­ware is truly ex­cel­lent, and on the Tafelkop 4x4 trail (one of the routes where we tested the Velar) we could eas­ily have lost one or more tyres if it wasn’t for the level-headed trac­tion con­trol that stub­bornly re­fused to al­low a sin­gle wheel to spin, even when we paused on a steep in­cline with jagged shale and then pulled off again.

Our Velar also came equipped with sen­sors in the wing mir­rors that can ap­par­ently mea­sure the depth of a river (there were no se­ri­ous river cross­ings on our trip in which to test it). If the wa­ter ahead is deeper than the Velar’s ford­ing depth of 650 mm, an alarm in the cabin will sound to warn you.

An­other cool gad­get is the heads-up dis­play (HUD) pro­jected on the in­side of the wind­shield which shows the steer­ing an­gle of the Velar’s front wheels. A video cam­era in the nose is an­gled down­wards and re­veals hid­den ob­sta­cles on a touch screen dis­play that you may not oth­er­wise be able to see from be­hind the steer­ing wheel. With the com­bined as­sis­tance of the HUD and the video cam­era you won’t re­quire a buddy to stand in front of you and holler: “A little bit to the left, more to the left. Whoa, too far”.

Con­clu­sion

We’re im­pressed. The Velar con­quered ev­ery ob­sta­cle we at­tempted on the first try. Un­for­tu­nately the Velar didn’t re­turn un­scathed from the bat­tle­field. As you may have guessed, the 20” all-sea­son tyres bore the brunt of the dam­age. Sharp rocks ren­dered ugly gashes on the side­walls, but thanks to the trac­tion con­trol they sur­vived and it wasn’t necessary to haul the full-size spare wheel from the boot. The al­loy rims of the Velar on test were not sunken be­low the side­walls as you’d get on proper off-road wheels. They ac­tu­ally ex­tend slightly be­yond the rub­ber, which is why the spokes were also marred. We won’t even men­tion the for­merly splen­did paint­work...

To be fair: The Velar is not to blame for the hic­cups. Gerry McGowan prob­a­bly never imag­ined that any­one would use a Velar as a pukka off-roader. The Velar is me­chan­i­cally ca­pa­ble of tak­ing on rough con­di­tions – it can go where you want it to, but should it?

27° 21° 26°

THE LAY OF THE LAND. The Velar’s touch­screens aren’t just there for your amuse­ment. The in­for­ma­tion dis­played on them is ac­tu­ally of value. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the six driv­ing modes is no­tice­able and you can feel it in the Velar’s per­for­mance and...

29° 23° 29°

PRICE P380 R-Dy­namic HSE............R1 356 900

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