If you’re often left bewildered by car names, be safe in the knowledge you’re not alone. And while Land Rover’s Velar may sound like it’s been plucked from the Latin dictionary – it actually has – that doesn’t mean it’s bereft of history. Meaning ‘to hide’ in Latin, the Velar takes its name from the codename given by Land Rover to the original Range Rover while it was being secretly produced back in the 60s. So is the Velar historic in its own right? We took it up to the Scottish Highlands to put it through its gorgeous paces.
The Velar is arguably the most road-ready Range Rover in Land Rover’s catalogue. Bridging the mammoth £30,000 gap between the Evoque and the cheaper end of the Range Rover Sport range, the Velar is the SUV of the moment. The mid-sized luxury SUV was awarded the ‘World Car Design of the Year’ at the New York International Auto Show earlier this year and having driven the thing, it’s not hard to see why.
This car is built for driving. Distances long and short, surfaces rough and smooth, every day and all day – we should know after a 10 hour stint up to the Highlands! Though it’s certainly designed to be used on the road, it does still offer some charm on the rough stuff too thanks to All Wheel Drive (AWD) as standard and a whole load of tech features to get you across that muddy field to your local village fete.
The first thing we should talk about, however, is the look of the Velar. Simply put, it was love at first sight. According to Range Rover, the Velar’s bodywork was sculptured following a design brief which focused on an ‘unwavering belief in reductionism.’ And though this sort of waffle can usually be ignored, it does sort of makes sense. It’s smooth, slimmed-down style was undoubtedly the focus during the design period and when compared with the Sport, you can see just how tight the skin has been pulled.
The silhouette is fast with an ascending belt and a cascading roof – again emphasising the road-ready brief. It’s perfectly brooding – especially around the nose – with the grille, lamps and bumper raring to go. Basically, it’s just bloody lovely and is begging to be driven.
Drive & Performance
The engine range on the Velar is broad to say the least, with badging easy to understand: ‘P’ or ‘D’ for petrol or diesel, then the number for the power output. All models are AWD and automatic, and all weigh just over 1,800kg, with accelerations ranging between six and nine seconds for 0-62mph. For the record, we drove the top-of-the-range HSE D300.
Driving is a pleasure with the steering accurate and suspension tuned enough to ensure smooth hairpins. It is controlled, but the likes of the healthy acceleration and the sport mode option, which lowers the body and shifts more power to the rear, does make the Velar feel like it’s ready to be unleashed. The only criticism we’d have is that while it can feel rapid for its size, we’d have liked the gas pedal to be a little more responsive. There was clear lag at times while the on-board computers figured out whether we should take the Glens in third or fourth.
Speaking in terms of pure driving experience, however, the Velar feels tall (though maybe not as tall as other rival SUVs) open-plan and extremely bright inside the cockpit. This was extremely useful in the Highlands when you want to enjoy every vista possible. Road noise was also incredibly hushed. Overall, it’s a superb driving experience without being exceptional in performance.
That said, you’re not going to be buying the Velar for the way it performs on the track. It’s all about style – and inside things are just as refined as out. The cockpit features plenty of plush white leather and it’s dominated by the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system which beautifully integrates two edgeless and glossy 10” high-definition Touchscreens.
The upper screen acts much like any other up-market car touchscreen with sat-nav, entertainment systems and comms all catered for. But the lower screen is the real game-changer. Coming with a pair of twist-and push knobs, here you can sort out your climate, with the likes of air-con and optional seat massages (useful during long drives in one Scotland’s famed downpours) making things just that little bit more comfortable. You’ve also got a reconfigurable set of buttons on the steering wheel and a head-up display for good measure.
Really, the only slight negative inside is the sat-nav which can be a little tricky when finding landmarks or quickest routes, and the boot – while big in area, it is a little shallow. It’s more than enough space for a family trip but if you’re using your Velar for anything bigger than suitcases, you may want to think twice. We should also say that while the Velar excels in the gizmo department, the car’s automatic full-beams aren’t made for Scottish loch-sides where blinding fellow drivers wasn’t uncommon…
When all is said and done, the Velar will be bought and sold on style. But don’t let that be disparaging. It’s still a very, very useful car. Plenty of room to be used a family run-around, not so big it’s a write-off in cities and more than capable off-road, the Velar is a jack of all trades. Yes, it may be more about relaxation than engagement, but when that looks this good, just sit back and enjoy the views.
Prices for the Velar starts at £44,735. Head over to the Land Rover Website for more details.
LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER VELAR HSE D300
0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
Top Speed: 150+ mph
Power: 300 hp
MPG: up to 42.8 mpg
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