The Velar is the fourth distinct Range Rover model, and it plugs the gap between the compact Evoque and the larger Range Rover Sport and full-size, full-fat Range Rover. Based on the same set of aluminium components as the Jaguar F-Pace, it’s an upmarket rival for the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, with its prices taking it higher into X5 and Q7 territory at times. It also introduces a new, cleaner-looking design language for Range Rover, which is rather less fussy than that of the existing line-up. Engines range from compact four-cylinder diesel and petrol models to a high-performance version using the 375hp supercharged V6 petrol from the Jaguar F-Type. Will it put a dent in the sales of Jaguar’s closely-related F-Pace? We shall see…
|Body Style: Crossover/SUV||Seats: 5||MRP from £44,830 - £85,450|
Did you know? The Velar badge was originally used on the first prototype Series I Range Rovers, to put inquisitive journalists off the scent.
It’s very hard to find fault with the Velar, beyond the fact that it’s quite an expensive car. Of course it is, though; it’s a Range Rover. It also makes a slightly better fist of being a ‘proper’ Range Rover than the smaller Evoque, thanks to truly striking styling and a really impressive interior that significantly raises Land Rover’s game in that department. Combine that with fine handling and a mostly well-composed ride quality, added to exceptionally broad-band, all-terrain performance, and you have a deeply compelling car.
Excellent cabin and infotainment
Top-drawer ride and handling
We Don't Like
Slightly tight legroom
Concerns over long-term reliability
Much has been made of the cleaner look of the Velar, which Land Rover’s chief designer Gerry McGovern has described as ‘reductionism.’ Certainly, there’s a distinct lack of the occasionally over-the-top ornamentation that we’ve seen on the likes of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and that’s much to the Velar’s credit.
Items such as the grille and narrow all-LED headlamps are neatly integrated and, aside from a touch of fussiness around the bottom of the front bumper and air intake (R-Design models get a chunkier version of this), it’s a very smooth looking car. We do love nice little touches such as the drawer-style door handles that pop out from their flush-mounted positions when you go to open the car, but the heavily curved rear pillar is a touch less successful. Nevertheless, the Velar is unquestionably a very handsome car indeed, and perhaps makes up a little for the over-wrought styling of the Discovery (no pointlessly asymmetric tailgates here, thanks very much…).
For years we’ve been saying that Land Rover’s interior styling is too bland, and has fallen behind the best efforts of BMW and Audi. Well, the Velar fixes that in one go and all it took was an extra screen… While the overall interior architecture is familiar, the two-level Touch Pro screens look quite dramatic (especially with their floating rotary controllers) and the whole ambience and effect of the cabin is significantly lifted.
Slide in and the seats are exceptionally comfortable and supportive, yet without the tightness across the shoulders that can afflict some. Top-spec models get 20-way adjustment, and if you can’t find a comfortable driving position with them, then you’re just not trying. Unfortunately, though, you have to have these full-fat seats to get adjustable lumbar support, which seems a rather cruel omission on the lower spec cars as it'll cost a lot to add the 20-way seats. The large wheel means you get a clear view of the instruments, and while the Touch Pro system does take a bit of working out at first, it’s reasonably intuitive. Initial quality levels are impressive, but we did find one or two cabin squeaks in our test cars, so that’ll need attention from the quality control people.
Go for the space-saver spare wheel and the Velar’s boot is just massive, at 634 litres, trouncing most of its direct rivals and even threatening its big brother, the Range Rover Sport. There’s no option for an extra row of seats, but you’ll cram plenty of luggage in. More so if you fold the seats, which liberates 1,690 litres (assuming you brim it to the roof).
The rear seats are a touch on the tight side, though. Legroom isn’t bad, but neither is it especially commodious and those with growing families would be much better off spending the same money on a Discovery, with its vast seven-seat cabin. Considering the Velar’s style-led brief, though, it’s pretty decent in practicality terms.
The obvious star here is the first use of the double-decker Touch Pro Duo display screens, which can control just about every aspect of the Velar’s various functions. There are two 10.0-inch high-definition touch screens, one above the other, which variously control the sound system, sat-nav, Terrain Response Control, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, phone, and more.
The lower screen deals with more of the mechanical functions of the car and the climate control, while the upper one is more about infotainment and sat-nav, but some functions can be dragged and dropped between screens for maximum versatility.
The lower screen also has two rotary controllers, which are primarily there for temperature control, but which can flip through different functions depending on which of the myriad menus you’re in. These rotary controllers are - ironically, considering that the whole idea of the two screens is to reduce the physical button count to almost zero - the best part of the system, with a delightfully tactile feel to their operation.
The graphics, especially those for the Terrain Response (which alters the Velar’s suspension, traction control, electronic rear differential and more to tailor its performance for rugged ground) are deeply handsome, and for the most part the system works well, with some occasional lapses and lags. One does have to worry a little bit as to what happens if something breaks, as Land Rover’s reputation for electrical reliability is less than stellar. There’s also the feeling that some physical shortcut buttons might have been helpful, but for now the system adds a great deal of appeal to the cabin, lifting what would otherwise have been a layout too generic and too close to that of the Evoque’s.
There’s also a new all-digital instrument panel, a full 12.3 inches in width, which can be customised and setup as you like, much in the manner of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. It looks good and works well, but the fact that the screen doesn’t quite fill the full binnacle does make it look a fraction cheaper than the Audi system.
You get a 4G SIM and an internal wifi hotspot that allows you to connect as many as eight devices, and smartphone connectivity that allows you to lock and unlock the car from half a world away, switch the air conditioning on and off remotely, send navigation directions to the car’s sat-nav and more, but somewhat surprisingly there’s no Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto as yet. Those will have to wait for the next model year change, apparently.
The Velar might just be the best-balanced Land Rover product when it comes to handling and ride, right now. Shorn of the weight of the bigger Range Rover Sport and the Discovery, it feels agile and responsive, and you can really feel the Jaguar influence coming through in the sharp, reactive steering. It has a slight dead spot at the centre, but as soon as you apply lock, there’s quick response and actually a tiny bit of feedback. On tight and twisty roads, the Velar is remarkably easy to place and it holds a cornering line with real aplomb, and even a touch of entertainment.
As standard, all Velars are four-wheel drive, and for much of the time a lot of that drive goes to the rear wheels; a balance you can most definitely feel in corners. A clutch-operated drive to the front wheels can transmit torque to the front in less than 200 milliseconds and all engine power can be sent to the front if needed. V6-engined versions also come with an electronic rear differential, which can shuffle torque from side to side to assist grip, traction, and handling, though more basic models come with torque-vectoring by braking.
The result is a big car (albeit light – 1,959kg kerb weight for the V6 diesel) that is exceptionally agile, more so than even the smaller Evoque. Dynamic mode ramps that up further, with sharper steering and very flat cornering.
The ride quality is equally impressive, especially so considering that the closely-related Jaguar F-Pace has always felt a touch too stiffly suspended. Riding on optional air suspension, the Velar is exceptionally comfortable, with good body control and a reluctance to suddenly drop a wheel into a rut or a pothole. The only caveat is that the optional big alloys (you can get up to a 22-inch rim) do eat into that quality a little, so we’d advise going no larger than 20 inches.
At its best, the Velar feels both effortless and engaging at the same time – you enjoy yourself behind the wheel, and engage with the car, but it’s never tiring. Crossing a continent or two would be a doddle.
That goes doubly so considering the off-roading prowess. We know – no Velar owner is likely to tackle anything tougher than the parking ramp at Harvey Nick’s – but just as it’s reassuring to know that your 316-grade marine stainless steel watch is fine when you’re washing your hands, so too is it nice to know and experience what the Velar can do when the tarmac runs out.
There’s no low-range transfer box, but there is the latest Terrain Response system that sets the car up for mud, ruts, snow, grass, gravel, sand, or rocks depending on your route across the mountains. With the air suspension, the maximum wading depth is a massive 650mm, so it would take a cataclysm to stop you getting home. There’s no question that the Velar is ludicrously capable at tackling whatever your throw at it. In it we forded rivers, climbed the rocky hiking path to the summit of a ski slope, and hurled it down a gravel track with a touch of Sebastian Loeb-style daring. In all circumstances, the Velar responded beautifully.
On the engine front, doubtless the 237bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder, twin-turbo diesel engine will be the choice for many, but we would recommend the 3.0-litre 296bhp V6 diesel. It is exceptionally refined, and with 516lb-ft of torque, it’s bonkers quick when you want it to be – more satisfyingly so than the 375bhp supercharged petrol V6 engine – yet it won’t cripple you at the pumps and will be long-legged across country. The 296bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol and 178bhp single-turbo diesel are best suited to low-mileage drivers. There's no hybrid option as yet.
Recommended engine: 3.0L D300 diesel V6
While the Velar uses a great deal of aluminium in its structure, there are also some big sections of high-strength steel, and so-called 6000-series high-strength aluminium, so the structure of the car should be exceptionally strong, even under a heavy impact.
Then there’s the active safety basics of having four-wheel drive, and surprisingly quick steering for a Land Rover product. Backing all that up are six airbags including full curtain bags, the torque vectoring system that can help to keep the car stable, and a myriad of electronic assistants. These include a driver drowsiness monitor, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping steering, traffic sign camera, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree parking cameras, self-parking, and a towing assistance system.
That’s on top of the off-roading systems, which can also help on slippery or wet roads, and the maximum wading depth of 650mm (or 600mm for the standard steel springs).
Initial First Edition models are available in three colours: Corris Grey, Silicon Silver, and Flux Silver (Flux Silver is strictly limited to the First Edition model for now). The rest of the Velar range lifts from the Jaguar and Land Rover colour line-ups with a choice of Fuji White and Narvik Black in solid, and metallic finishes in Indus Silver, Firenze Red, Yulong White, Kaikoura Stone, Santorini Black, and Byron Blue. There are also ’premium metallic’ paints in Aruba, and Carpathian Grey. There is also a black contrast roof finish.
The basic Velar trim comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, Terrain Response, torque-vectoring by braking, adaptive dynamics, 18-inch alloys, LED lights, cloth and Suedecloth seat trim, eight-way electric and heated front seats, cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, heated windscreen, keyless entry, DAB radio, and the dual-screen In Control Touch Pro infotainment setup.
S models add air suspension for six-cylinder models, 19-inch alloy wheels, auto dimming exterior mirrors, premium LED lights with auto high beam, powered tailgate (with kick-to-open function), perforated leather seats with ten-way adjustment, a 380W Meridian sound system, satnav, wifi hotspot and online services, and a rear-view camera.
The Velar SE comes with 20-inch alloys, ‘Matrix’ LED headlights, intelligent high beam, 825W Meridian sound system, 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, 360-degree parking cameras, blind spot monitor, traffic sign recognition, adaptive speed limiter, cross-traffic detection, and the driver drowsiness monitor.
Above that is the HSE model with 21-inch alloy wheels, ‘Windsor’ leather seats (which are 20-way powered with both massage and cooling functions), extra leather trim, satin chrome accents, power adjust steering column, adaptive cruise with queue assistant and intelligent emergency braking, parking assistant, blind spot assistant, and lane keeping assist.
To any of those trims you can add the R-Dynamic pack, which includes satin dark grey finished alloy wheels, body kit, front fog lights, gloss black accents, dark aluminium interior trims, metal pedal finishers, dark headlining, satin chrome paddle shifters, and R-Dynamic tread plates.
While the options list is nigh-on endless, it’s worth mentioning two particular items. One is a set of bronzed exterior trims, which look rather refreshingly different to the usual chrome or gloss black. The other is vegetarian seats. These are an option for those who consider leather to be passé, and have been developed with European textiles giant Kvadrat. They’re essentially posh cloth – a mixture of soft fabric, a tweed-like material and some Alcantara fake suede. It’s an interesting choice and a refreshing change from leather. Perfect for vegan Range Rover fans.
Size and Dimensions
The Velar is surprisingly big. At 4.8 metres long, it’s only a fraction shorter than a Range Rover Sport, so those looking to trade down from the larger car would be advised to make sure it’ll fit into any regularly used tight spaces. It does feel wieldier than the bigger Range Rovers though, and is much lower-slung.
2,145mm (including door mirrors)
Max towing weight without brake
2,400kg (178bhp diesel and 237bhp petrol) to 2,500kg (all other models)
Spec your Velar with either the 178bhp or 237bhp 2.0-litre diesel engines and running costs will be kept well under control. Emissions start from 142g/km for the basic diesel, which has official combined economy of 52.5mpg. The 237bhp version will manage 48.7mpg. The 247bhp petrol turbo four-cylinder is an interesting choice – it returns 37.2mpg and emits 173g/km, which means it’s thirsty, but possibly not excessively so and it might make a good choice for those who live in town. The 375bhp supercharged V6 petrol is wicked thirsty though – 30.1mpg officially and more like 20mpg in real life; you’d have to be committed to its performance to put up with that. The 3.0-litre V6 ‘D300’ diesel is probably in the sweet spot here. 44.1mpg and 167g/km are worth paying for its power and smoothness.
Reliability and servicing
All engines need servicing every 10,000 miles or one year, and Land Rover offers five-year inclusive servicing packages with prices starting from £699. That covers all normal servicing costs and consumables, including AdBlue for the diesel exhaust treatment.
We can’t tell you how reliable the Velar is likely to be as it’s a brand new model, but there’s good and bad news here. The good news is that its entire structure and all of its engines are shared with the likes of the Jaguar F-Pace, XF and XE and are therefore already well-proven. The bad news is that Land Rover still has to shake off a long-held reputation for poor quality and niggling problems. In fairness, Land Rover’s senior staff know this, and we’ve been told that dealers are poised like cats to leap on any problem that rears its head.
The standard Land Rover warranty is for three years with unlimited mileage, and optionally that can be extended for up to 10 years and 100,000 miles. There’s also a six-year anti-corrosion warranty and a three-year paint warranty.
10,000 miles or one year
10,000 miles or one year.
The Velar is undoubtedly a premium product, and looks and feels every inch of it, from its sharp styling to its really rather lovely interior. It’s also quite well equipped as standard, and only comes with four-wheel drive, so that does help to take the sting out of prices that are noticeably more expensive than those of a Jaguar F-Pace, with which it shares so much. The Velar’s bigger boot and more comprehensive suite of off-road abilities help here too, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is not an affordable machine.
HSE models are exceptionally comfortable and well-appointed, and it’s a very refined vehicle too.
That split-screen Touch Pro system looks brilliant and works well, and it’s standard even on a basic Velar.
The Velar will be instantly fashionable and the Launch Edition and R-Design versions look stunning.
Conceptually, the Q5 is similar, but in reality the Velar more stylish, and bigger inside, albeit more expensive.
The smaller X3 is slightly closer in size terms, but price-wise the X5 is definitely a Velar rival. The Range Rover is quieter and comfier, though.
Lexus RX 450h
As striking to look at as the Velar, if not as pretty, and with a great interior. Hybrid system best suited to urban use.
The Porsche is the Velar’s closest conceptual rival, and it’s a strong one. Great to drive, and very high quality finish.
Smaller and cheaper than the Velar, but very handsome and with a brilliant cabin.