RANGE ROVER VELAR
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.