Land Rover Range Rover Velar SUV (2017 - ) review
Larger than an Evoque and smaller than a Range Rover Sport, the Velar is a new way into Range Rover ownership, with rivals including the Porsche Macan and Audi Q5.
Interested in buying a Land Rover Range Rover Velar?
How good does it look?
The styling of the Velar is an evolution of the looks found on other Range Rover-branded cars (those being the full-sized Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport and the smaller Range Rover Evoque). That makes it distinctive and contemporary, aided by plenty of eye-catching details, such as the door handles that retract flush with the bodywork when the car is in motion. Different versions of the Velar have different styling, with four different headlight designs – all of which are LED – and more aggressive bumpers for R-Dynamic models. Land Rover offers plenty of personalisation options, with 13 paint colours and alloy wheels ranging in size. Standard cars ride on 18-inch wheels, while S models get 19s, SE cars have 20s and HSE models sit on 21-inch rims. Massive 22-inch wheels are optional.
What's the interior like?
The Velar’s interior design follows a minimalist theme, with hardly any clutter. The centrepiece is the standard dual-touch-screen infotainment system. It looks seriously cutting edge and is very customisable to your preferred set-up, but it is confusing to navigate. We found the touch-screens quickly became covered in fingerprints, and while they look great, they’re often not as easy to use as a combination of buttons and dials.
SE cars and above get a 12.3-inch screen in place of traditional instrument dials, which looks great and can again be configured in plenty of ways, depending on the information you want displayed. The high-specification models we’ve tried have some luxurious leather on the seats and dashboard, and some very nice textile alternatives from luxury furniture maker Kvadrat. However, it’s a shame some of the plastics used – those on the glovebox lid and centre armrest – aren’t as solid or tactile as we’d hoped. While the cabin is a very pleasant and comfortable environment to sit in, it doesn’t have the bulletproof sense of quality the Audi Q5 does.
How practical is it?
Size-wise, the Velar is only slightly wider than the Evoque, but nearly as long as the Range Rover Sport, which makes it bigger than most of its competition. The front has plenty of cubbyholes, two cupholders and a storage area under the armrest, and the glovebox can be specified with cooling function to keep drinks chilled. The rear seats have plenty of room for two adults, although the centre seat will be a squeeze for all but the smallest of grown-ups. The boot, with a capacity of 632 litres, is cavernous compared to those in the Porsche Macan, BMW X6 and Audi Q5, although the Jaguar F-Pace’s rear compartment is slightly larger. The rear seats fold almost flat in a 40:20:40 split, meaning there are plenty of configurations for lugging larger loads around.
What's it like to drive?
Like all Range Rovers, the Velar delivers comfort and solid handling – mostly. It focuses more on comfort than excitement, and with the air suspension fitted as standard on V6-powered models – and optional on others – it filtered out road imperfections well when we first drove it in Norway. Models with four-cylinder engines come with a more conventional coil spring suspension, which we’ve yet to try.
However, on crumbly British B-roads it’s less impressive, with a firmer ride than we expected and quite a lot of road noise, especially in the back. Cars fitted with 22-inch wheels are particularly bad: we found these crash and bash over rough surfaces in a way smaller wheels don’t. In the grand scheme of things, it’s by no means terrible, it’s just not as remarkable as we expected from a Range Rover.
The handling is remarkably solid, with excellent control around corners and minimal body roll. However, the payoff for the soft ride is a bit of pitching back and forth if you brake or accelerate hard. This isn’t a car that urges you to drive enthusiastically, though, and instead delivers a relaxed, confident experience. Being a Land Rover product, the Velar also excels off-road, with lots of clever technology to haul it up and down far more challenging terrain than most owners will ever need to tackle. It’ll easily cope with muddy fields and gravel tracks.
How powerful is it?
There are several petrol and diesel engine options available on the Velar, all matched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The most powerful options are the D300 diesel V6, and the P380 petrol-powered V6. Both are excellent, although their performance comes at the expense of fuel economy. The diesel delivers an effortless response with no need to rev it hard for swift progress, and while the petrol delivers its maximum grunt at higher revs, it doesn’t struggle lower down. There will also be two smaller diesel engines – the D180 and D240 – and two smaller petrol engines called the P250 and P300. Of these, we’ve only tried the D240 so far, which balances improved fuel economy with enough oomph to pull a fully-loaded Velar around without feeling strained or sluggish. If you’re not bothered about scintillating speed, it’s worth considering.
How much will it cost me?
Many customers are likely to opt for a high-end D300 model, and the R-Dynamic HSE version that we’ve tested is very expensive compared to its rivals, such as a BMW X6 40d M Sport and a Jaguar F-Pace S with the same V6 diesel engine. While the BMW’s resale value is better, the Velar has the edge on other running costs like fuel economy and servicing, and the cost-per-mile for ownership is likely to be almost identical over three years or 60,000 miles. The F-Pace, however, is likely to be cheaper is all areas apart from servicing, with a far cheaper purchase price, better fuel economy and less depreciation. Opt for a mid-range petrol model, such as the P300 SE, and it sits between a lot of the rivals in terms of power. Its price places it alongside the more powerful Macan GTS, while it’s several thousand pounds more than an Audi SQ5 and the difference is even bigger compared with the Jaguar F-Pace Prestige with the same engine. It’ll cost less to fuel and service than the Porsche and the Audi, but the Jaguar will be much cheaper to run overall. Overall, the high purchase prices across the range look very difficult to justify.
How reliable is it?
The Velar is all new, so there’s no historical data on reliability yet. However, a look at Land Rover’s standing in the Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index is concerning, as it sits towards the bottom of the manufacturer rankings, although that’s for all its cars over more than a decade. Owner reviews on Auto Trader don’t do much to improve matters, with owners of the Range Rover Sport, particularly, reporting problems. Hopefully the Velar will perform better.
How safe is it?
The Velar scored the maximum five stars in crash tests by safety organisation EuroNCAP, with good results in all areas. As well as lots of off-road technology to keep you safe and moving away from the tarmac, it also features cutting-edge on-road safety features as standard, such as automatic emergency braking, with pedestrian detection capabilities and a lane departure warning system. SE models and above get a big step in safety kit, with a package that includes a 360-degree parking camera system, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition and reverse traffic detection, while more systems are added as you go further up the range. Six airbags are standard, and there are Isofix child seat connection points in two of the three rear seats.
How much equipment do I get?
Expensive the Velar may be, but it does come with a lot of kit. The entry-level model – called simply ‘Velar’ – features heated front seats, cruise control and DAB radio, but it’s the S model where the treats start stacking up, with upgraded headlights, leather-covered electric seats, sat-nav, a Wifi hotspot, rear view camera and a beefier sound system. The SE kicks things up a further notch with an even more powerful stereo and digital instrument dials, while the top-of-the-range HSE gets nicer leather, swankier seats with a massage feature, chrome bits around the cabin and automatic parking. In parallel to the S/SE/HSE set up is the R-Dynamic line, which follows the same hierarchy while jazzing up the exterior and interior with more shiny bits.
The Velar is a car sold by its style and image. It’s expensive compared to its rivals, and it offers neither the interior quality of Porsche and Audi, nor the driving panache of the Macan or Jaguar F-Pace. But it is very comfortable, crammed with flashy technology and offers a genuine Range Rover experience, both on-road and off.