The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - JACK EVANS

ANY­ONE 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, in the mid­dle, and the stan­dard Range Rover at the top. Now, there’s one more car in the fam­ily: the Velar. De­signed to sit 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.

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 go out and buy.

The cabin is dom­i­nated by Range Rover’s new Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The dual 10.2-inch 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.

The boot space 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 area, and be­cause it’s square in size, is very use­able.

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.

Af­ter select­ing ‘D’ on the 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 fuss, and you can take man­ual con­trol of switch­ing cogs via the steer­ing wheel-mounted pad­dles should you want to. 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 test route.

The steer­ing feels dis­tant 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.

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 Edi­tion­spec­i­fi­ca­tion 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 the smaller wheel as it does won­ders for the over­all ride qual­ity.

The Velar is 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 tackle al­most any­thing, even on stan­dard road tyres. If you’re look­ing for a car for all con­di­tions, then the Velar is the car to go for – it more than lives up to Range Rover’s ‘go any­where’ ethos.

The Velar’s Ter­rain Re­sponse sys­tem helps it cope with all man­ner of sur­faces – even on stan­dard road tyres.

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