Range Rover brings luxury to the crossover segment with the sporty and comfortable Velar, Matt de Prez discovers on first drive.
The dilemma of what to choose if you want a Range Rover but an Evoque is too small and a Sport is too expensive may be solved.
Land Rover launched the Velar to fill that exact gap, and, while it is effectively based on a Jaguar F-Pace, it manages to exude the same sense of opulence you get from a full-size Range Rover.
Perhaps that is why prices start at £44,800, around £10,000 more than an F-Pace.
This car is available to test drive at Company Car in Action 2018
With its lowered roof and sleek styling, the Velar is the most car-like SUV Land Rover has ever made. Its aluminium body and Jaguar XE and XF underpinnings help it become the most dynamic-driving product from the brand.
Inside there is a distinct lack of knobs and levers to prod and pull when the going gets tough, but the Velar does have all-wheel drive and Land Rover’s terrain response system.
It does not feature air suspension as standard, yet the ride is still sublime and makes the Velar both sporty and comfortable – even if it lacks the ability to increase its ride height for off-road excursions.
A commanding driving position gives good visibility, although the Velar belies its mid-size SUV label and feels every bit as big as a Range Rover Sport to drive – probably because it’s only 40mm narrower.
The interior showcases a new suite of technology for Land Rover; there’s a high-definition infotainment screen that features the familiar Incontrol Pro, plus a new second touchscreen display in place of the climate control and other switchgear.
There are eight trims to choose from, with prices peaking at £83,350 for the fully-loaded First Edition.
R-Dynamic models (available in S, SE and HSE) feature more aggressive bumpers and larger alloy wheels. The base model is simply ‘Velar’ with S, SE and HSE, again, adding more spec the higher you go.
All models get LED headlights, heated seats and keyless entry with motorised flush-fitted door handles.
You need at least an S grade, at £50,420, to get leather trim, powered tailgate and reversing camera – although the majority of customers are expected to opt for top-spec HSE which comes packed with ventilated/massage seats, adaptive cruise control and a high-end Meridian audio system.
The engine line-up kicks off with a D180 2.0-litre diesel that emits 142g/km of CO2. It’s good for 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds and, with 52mpg, it should be more than adequate for most company car drivers.
We tested the more potent D240. It pumps out 154g/km with the promise of 48mpg and gives much better performance with a 0-62 time of just 6.8 seconds.
There is also a V6 diesel (D300) with emissions of 167g/km and three higher-emitting petrols.
Our experience of the D240 was positive. We managed to eke out 44mpg on a run, but would expect 35-38mpg as a realistic average.
The engine is fairly quiet unless you need to press on, at which point the eight-speed automatic gearbox has a tendency to keep it revving high, detracting from the refinement.
While the F-Pace and Discovery Sport are more cost-effective fleet models, the Velar does bring ‘proper’ Range Rover luxury to the crossover segment.