STUN­NING NEW VE­LAR SUV PLUGS A GAP FOR RANGE ROVER

Jack Evans heads to Nor­way to test Range Rover’s lat­est SUV – the Ve­lar.

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - JACK EVANS

WHAT’S NEW?

Those look­ing to pur­chase a Range Rover used to have three main op­tions. There was the Evoque, rep­re­sent­ing the more af­ford­able end of the spec­trum, the Sport, which sat in the mid­dle, and the standard Range Rover at the very top. Now, there’s one more car in the fam­ily – the Ve­lar. De­signed to sit in be­tween the Evoque and Sport, it’s a mid-sized SUV for those who want a lit­tle more space and a lit­tle more lux­ury.

Fea­tur­ing an all-new Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem which com­prises two high-def­i­ni­tion 10.2-inch touch­screens, and fit­ted with Range Rover’s lat­est tech, it’s the most cut­ting-edge car the brand has ever put to mar­ket. There are ri­vals – the Porsche Ma­can be­ing the pri­mary one – and with a segment al­most brim full of SUVS, the Ve­lar does have a tough fight on its hands if it wants to suc­ceed.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

The front end of the new Ve­lar is un­mis­tak­able as that of a Range Rover, but with a twist. It fea­tures full Ma­trix LED head­lights that are al­most ra­zor thin, sit­ting ei­ther side of a large, prom­i­nent grille. A side look at the pro­file of the Ve­lar re­veals it to be rather raked, though it still in­cor­po­rates a ‘float­ing roof ’ de­sign as seen on other cars in the range.

The ex­tremely short over­hang at the front is con­trasted by quite a large one at the rear which, in our eyes, can make it ap­pear a touch dumpy.

That said, the door han­dles, which elec­tron­i­cally re­tract to be­come flush with the car’s body­work, are an ex­tremely neat touch, and it all works to­gether to cre­ate a car that looks more like a con­cept than a ve­hi­cle you can ac­tu­ally go out and buy.

In­side, the cabin is dom­i­nated by Range Rover’s new Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The dual 10.2inch touch­screens give easy ac­cess to nav­i­ga­tion, me­dia and phone func­tions via the top mon­i­tor, or cli­mate con­trol set­tings and driv­ing mode se­lec­tions through the lower one. It’s a sys­tem that is just as good to use as to look at, and

rep­re­sents a huge step for­ward for the brand over its ex­ist­ing of­fer­ings.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

To achieve in the SUV segment, any car needs to be prac­ti­cal. The Ve­lar is some­what of a mixed bag in this re­spect. The boot space, for ex­am­ple, is im­pres­sive. There’s 632 litres of boot space to be found with the rear seats raised, rising to 1,731 litres with them folded flat. It’s a huge load area, and be­cause it’s square in size, it is very use­able.

The Ve­lar is quite a high car, which does mean that lug­ging heav­ier items into the boot could be more of a chal­lenge, but there’s not much of load lip which makes things a lit­tle eas­ier.

In con­trast, the rear seat leg- room seems some­what mean. With two av­er­age-sized adults sat up front, there re­ally wasn’t much space in the rear – though head and shoul­der room lev­els were just right. In truth, we could have seen a lit­tle more taken off the boot ca­pac­ity for the sake of a lit­tle more legroom, as there just doesn’t seem to be quite enough of the lat­ter for a car of this size. That said, the cabin’s airy na­ture means it does feel spa­cious over­all, while soft-touch ma­te­ri­als and well-padded seats make it a com­fort­able place to be.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

The Ve­lar, as men­tioned ear­lier, is de­signed to sit in be­tween the Evoque and Sport in the prod­uct line-up, and as such you’d ex­pect it to drive per­haps not quite as keenly as the car above it, but of­fer more in­volve­ment than the one be­low it. How­ever, the first thing that strikes you when you get be­hind the wheel – and be­fore you’ve even started the en­gine – is just how vast the Ve­lar feels. It’s near im­pos­si­ble to see the very front of the car, and this can be a lit­tle dis­con­cert­ing to be­gin with. It could be down to the cabin’s low po­si­tion­ing in­side the car as a whole, com­bined with the ve­hi­cle’s sheer size – though we’d need a lit­tle more time in it on UK roads to find out.

After se­lect­ing ‘D’ on the car’s rotary gear con­troller, the Ve­lar – fit­ted with the tur­bocharged V6 diesel in our test car – pulls away cleanly and re­sponds with more than enough ur­gency for a car of this size.

The eight-speed dual-clutch gear­box shifts with­out any fuss, and you can take man­ual con­trol of switch­ing cogs via the steer­ing wheel-mounted – pad­dles should you want to though most driv­ers are likely to for­get these in daily driv­ing and leave the gear­box in all-auto mode.

The im­pres­sive 700Nm of torque on tap makes for swift and easy over­tak­ing, and means the Ve­lar never feels out of puff, even on ex­tremely steep gra­di­ents

such as the ones found along our Nor­we­gian test route.

The steer­ing feels some­what dis­tant to be­gin with due to its rel­a­tive light­ness, but you soon be­come used to it. There’s not a huge amount of feel, but it’s not a hard car to place on the road. The only draw­back is, again, the car’s size, and this can make it feel some­what cum­ber­some on sin­gle coun­try lanes.

Our car was a HSE model and came fit­ted with the tur­bocharged V6 diesel, air sus­pen­sion, and rode on 21-inch al­loy wheels. We also tested a First Edition-spec­i­fi­ca­tion car – lim­ited to the first year of pro­duc­tion – and the ride was no­tice­ably firmer on this model’s larger 22-inch al­loys – we’d rec­om­mend choos­ing the smaller wheel as it does won­ders for the over­all ride qual­ity.

The Ve­lar is also noth­ing short of ex­cep­tional when it comes to tack­ling tricky con­di­tions. It’s fit­ted with the lat­est Ter­rain Re­sponse sys­tem, and it al­lowed the car to scrab­ble up in­cred­i­bly steep gra­di­ents, as well as han­dle all man­ner of slippery sur­faces.

If left in full Auto ter­rain mode, it’ll hap­pily tackle al­most any­thing – even when on standard road tyres. If you’re look­ing for a car for all con­di­tions, then the Ve­lar is the car to go for – and it more than lives up to Range Rover’s ‘go any­where’ ethos.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Prices for the Ve­lar start at £44,830. For that, you get a base-spec ve­hi­cle fit­ted with the four-cylin­der In­ge­nium diesel en­gine. As standard, all cars get Ter­rain Re­sponse, 18-inch al­loy wheels and heated front seats – though they’re only man­u­ally ad­justable.

Cruise con­trol, au­tonomous brak­ing and key­less en­try is also in­cluded, as is the Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. This base trim is avail­able with the four-cylin­der only.

Mid-range SE cars ben­e­fit from larger 20-inch al­loy wheels, a 360-de­gree park­ing cam­era and a full 12.3-inch screen re­plac­ing the car’s tra­di­tional di­als. You also get leather seats, of which the front two are pow­ered and heated. How­ever, these cars cost from £56,060 – though are now avail­able with the tur­bocharged V6 diesel.

Prices for the Ve­lar can go as high as £85,450 for top-spec First Edition cars, though it’s un­likely many driv­ers will choose this. The mid­dle range cars of­fer ex­cel­lent value for money as they come fit­ted with a good amount of standard equip­ment, and enough lux­u­ries to keep even the most avid but­ton-pusher happy.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

The Ve­lar will be per­fect for those who want el­e­gant looks and the lat­est tech wrapped up in a true go-any­where pack­age. It’s likely many driv­ers will be tempted to Range Rover from other brands – and we couldn’t blame them. Rel­a­tively lim­ited rear legroom aside, the Ve­lar is a very well-rounded car, and it’s likely to be im­mensely popular – and de­servedly so.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.