Officially the Velar is positioned between the relatively affordable Evoque and much more expensive Sport SUV in the Range Rover line-up. But it’s much more than that. It also vies for the same glory as the Volvo XC90 at this price. It also has to deal with the Porsche Macan, which retails for roughly the same price. It’s a tough act. But if anyone can do it, then it’s Range Rover. The Velar with its strong mix of performance, looks, comfort and a desirable badge has all the right ingredients for success.
The Velar shares a lot of components along with the Jaguar F-Pace SUV. It also looks just as good as the Jag does. The face of the car could well sit on a ramp walk on the fashion runways of Milan or Paris. The Velar looks fit for royalty. In fact, it is royalty in the world of SUVs. The face is traditional Range Rover, with its nicely tapered headlamps and big rectangular grille, which makes the car’s face look mean and aggressive. It seems that the Velar is simply ready to pick up a sword fight with someone. The side profile with its chunky wheel arches and muscular lines give it personality. The rather heavily sculpted rear end though can split opinion sharply.
Step inside the cabin and it seems like the Velar has been dripped with honey. Everything has a nice, opulent and upmarket feel about it. The upholstery is made from top quality materials. The talking point is the dual screen interface for operating the infotainment as well as other paraphernalia inside the cabin.
Land Rover calls this the Touch Pro Duo. This interface comprises not one but two high- definition 10-inch touchscreens stacked on the middle of the centre console. The unit on top is electrically adjustable and you can easily change its angle and is a boon on a hot summer day. You also get a panoramic sunroof, which makes the cabin feel even airier. Special mention has to be made of the Meridian stereo system on this car, this alone is a great reason to buy the Velar for audiophiles.
Surprisingly, there isn’t an option of Android Auto or Apple Carplay on offer in such a high end car.
The front seats offer good space and generous cushioning but the rear seems a bit tight for overall legroom, especially considering the cars length. This though reveals good boot space and this car is good for those airport transfers. Overall, the cabin feels like a special place to be in.
Engine, performance and gearbox
You can choose the Velar with three engine options – 180bhp, 2-litre diesel, a 300bhp, 3-litre V6 diesel and a 250bhp, 2-litre petrol. The last engine is the one we test drove here. Performance wise it is all the engine you’d ever need. It packs a punch everywhere in its powerband and manages to remain rather quiet as well. It inherently smooth as well making it a great long distance runner. Even when you rev up the motor to extract some juice the exhaust note is muted. The gearbox is a quick witted unit as well. Use the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and you will realise the crispness of the changes even more. It’s a quick gearbox.
Ride and handling
Big and bulky SUVs are never great driver’s cars. The Velar offers a nice and communicative steering wheel. Though you can’t put this car in the same category as the Porsche Macan, it won’t make you bored of driving it. Range Rover engineers have clearly erred on the side of comfort for the Velar. The car simply glides over the worst or worst roads without flinching. What adds to the cushiony suspension is the fact that it doesn’t make any sort of noises at all. Body roll though is present but it’s always under control and the tyres have plenty of grip to deliver as well.
The Velar is a piece of art rolling on wheels. It looks stunning, drives well and comes with a certain air of authority and royalty about it that’s hard to miss. It’s one of the best luxury SUVs at this price if not the best.