Land Rover’s latest medium-sized SUV is a fantastic package, enthuses Charlie Flindt, although it did have some interesting innovations – and a beard
Charlie Flindt is enthusiastic about the latest addition to the Range Rover stable. The Range Rover Velar is a stylish, medium SUV that goes like stink and makes a great noise – and can acquire a jolly beard in the process.
For more on SUVs, read about one that is impressive and new on the block in Charlie Flindt’s review of the Skoda Kodiaq.
RANGE ROVER VELAR
Many years ago, legend has it, when Land Rover was first developing the “Range Rover”, it didn’t want its prototypes to carry that exact name. So the badge on these revolutionary vehicles read “Velar”. History is murky on the name’s origins: some sources claim it’s an acronym, others suggest it’s from the Latin “velare”, to hide.
Nearly half a century on, the Velar name is back. Don’t go expecting a two-door agrarian beast with velour seats and a hose-out vinyl floor, though. The new Velar is the very epitome of modern SUVs.
Take the styling. It’s pure, modern Range Rover, almost to the point of being hard to distinguish from the rest of the range at a glance. The lights are slim and aggressive, the chin is huge and the back end is sharply angled up, as if to avoid tail strike – an unlikely event, I know, but the way the drivers go in the brochure, all bases need covering.
The interior continues the theme of thoroughly modern design but with traditional Range Rover values of quality materials assembled beautifully. Touchscreens abound – odd, in an era when looking at a phone screen is a deadly motoring sin. And while we’re talking safety, someone (not frit of being critical of a national icon) needs to point out how much of the nearside view is hidden by pillars, mirrors, headrests and teeny tiny rear-quarter windows.
The insides aren’t as vast as some in the Range Rover stable but the Velar is very much a medium-sized SUV – a decent dip of the head is needed when entering. The back seats are snug and the boot is fairly limited, although the high boot floor covers a wheel-well capable of holding a full-size spare, which would be an off-roading plus mark if it weren’t an optional extra.
The bonus of being a (relative) lightweight in the Range Rover stable is that the V6 twin-turbo makes the Velar go like stink – and makes great noises at the same time. The air suspension works well to keep the whole thing level and stable but still feels, well, like air suspension. Nice if you like it but not so nice if you don’t (or were traumatised by P38A ownership).
There are some interesting innovations: door handles that power in and out of the door. I did worry up in the woods that a coppiced ash might catch them before they retracted fully. I also discovered that while driving across groundsel-inundated stubbles, the Velar develops a full and fetching white beard – which was suitably jolly and seasonal on a bright red car when it joined us back in December.
It’s also worth noting – as I discovered during that pre-Christmas cold spell – that the heater element in the front windscreen has a strange habit when it comes on (automatically) of distorting the view; for a couple of minutes on one frosty morning, I was convinced I was getting a migraine.
All in all, the Velar is another fantastic package, guaranteed to keep the transporters busy down the A34 to the ports. It’s exactly what we now expect from the modern-day Range Rover. No hosepipe needed – except to clear the groundsel seed.
Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE
♦ Engine: 3 litre twin turbo V6 diesel
♦ Power: 300hp
♦ Max speed: 150mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 60: 6.1 sec
♦ Combined fuel economy: 44.1mpg
♦ Insurance group (0-20): 46
♦ Price: £70,530