Range Rover Velar Review
"The beauty here is more than skin deep"
Range Rover Velar review - side view, silver, 2020

Range Rover Velar review: style, luxury and comfort

  • Published 19 May 2020
  • 5 minute read
  • By Richard Aucock

Introduction

The Range Rover Velar is an achingly pretty car. It seems strange to be saying that about a big, mud-plugging SUV, but such is the Range Rover brand these days: a luxury car company, rather than a rugged 4x4 maker (leave that to parent brand, Land Rover). The muddiest a Velar will likely get is when you use the overflow car park field at Soho Farmhouse.

The Velar fits into the gap between the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport. It’s an appreciably larger machine than the Evoque, but doesn’t have the Sport’s sheer bulk, so is less intimidating to drive. Land Rover data shows it to be a more female-friendly car. For men, it seems only the steroidal Sport will do. Typical.

Looking good from the moment it was launchedRange Rover Velar review - front view, red, 2017 Available to lease from £561 per month Lease Now

Land Rover launched the Range Rover Velar in 2017. Frankly, it was too expensive at first. Ambitious prices have been dialled back, and it’s now found its place in the market. Only a single five-seat bodystyle is available, with either standard, R-Dynamic (which has a sportier emphasis) or Black Edition trimmings. There’s also now a range-topping, and slightly pointless, V8-engined SVO model.

Grown out of the Range Rover Evoque? The Velar is the sensible next step – and, as we’ll see, it’s a talented enough machine in its own right to justify its place.


Looks, tech and design

Even if you haven’t fallen for it just by looking at the photos, you will do when you see the Velar in the metal (most of which is lightweight, eco-friendly aluminium). It looks long, lithe and elegantly minimalist: the design team call it ‘reductionism’, taking away all the fuss and painstakingly sculpting what’s left.

It’s more curvaceous than the upright, blocky SUV norm, with a handsome and distinctive front end sweeping back into a body that shares more design cues with a posh speedboat than a gnarly 4x4. You do need bigger wheels to make the most of it, mind: cheaper versions look like they’re sat on cotton reels, which spoils the effect.

Wheels: go big or go homeRange Rover Velar review - rear view, silver, 2020 Available to lease from £561 per month Lease Now

You can choose to have some of the inlays and bonnet scoop finishers in bronze-effect trim, which is a lovely look. Particularly when you pick one of the pretty light metallic colours that suit it so well. Alternatively, you can go for a ‘black pack’, but I think this takes away some of the Velar’s charm.

Land Rover offers several model grades: S, SE and HSE (ignore the base Velar, which is so meanly stripped out it shatters the dream of the pretty body as soon as you open the door – and has hideous 18-inch wheels). Start at SE if you can. It has the necessary 20-inch wheels and a sparkling Meridian surround-sound stereo. All Velars get powered, heated leather seats, but it’s even softer Windsor leather in the HSE. 

The white's a bold choice, but overall the interior is exceptionalRange Rover Velar review - interior, 2020 Available to lease from £561 per month Lease Now

Although it’s not overtly 4x4-rugged, you still get a raised SUV-like feel inside the Velar. It’s a Club Class sensation. The dashboard is also elegant, continuing the minimalist theme. Its centrepiece is the dual-screen console, with high-res displays instead of buttons. It’s called Touch Pro Duo, and it’s gorgeous (particularly as it now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).

Space in the back is ample, if not lavish, and the boot is big enough. It’s finished in such posh carpet, you’ll certainly think twice before letting a muddy dog jump in there. The original Range Rover was famed for its hose-clean interior: the fact you can choose a Velar with Windsor leather door armrests tells you all you need to know.

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Driving

It’s so refreshing to drive a vehicle that isn’t set up to be overtly sporty or aggressive. The Velar is about comfort and relaxation, a role it plays very well indeed. It’s a lovely haven of tranquillity. Noise levels are low, the steering is easygoing and it rides rough surfaces in a plush and pleasant way. Yet it doesn’t feel disconnected or remote, so you can still enjoy it on twisty roads without any hesitancy.

My favourite Velars are those with air suspension. This gives a truly luxury car feel. It’s a pricey option, though, and tech called Adaptive Dynamics also steps up the sophistication more cheaply. Its adeptness off-road is irrelevant – but does mean flooded roads and muddy fields should hold no fear.

Comfort is kingRange Rover Velar review - front view, Black Edition, driving, 2020 Available to lease from £561 per month Lease Now

The engine line-up is straightforward: ‘D’ for diesel, ‘P’ for petrol. The D180, D240 and D275 are 2.0-litre turbodiesels, while the D300 is a smoother-sounding 3.0-litre V6. Both P250 and P300 petrols are 2.0-litre turbos, and run in a discreet enough way, with decent pulling power. Or, if you own an oil company, you could have the sporty SVO V8.

My pick is the V6 diesel, but you won’t be short-changed with a 2.0-litre diesel (they’re less rattly than they used to be). All come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Frankly, you don’t buy a Velar for hot-rod performance, but do choose it for low-effort surge, something all but the base D180 do admirably.

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Cost and economy

The price walk between Velar grades is steep. When I say go for an SE if you can, I mean it: the difference up from base is over £8,000, which equates to a lot more in monthly payments. For this reason, I’d suggest you pick your trim grade first, then work out which engine you can afford, rather than the other way around.

And don’t let the salesman get you carried away with options – you really don’t need those £2,500 massaging and air-conditioned front seats, or the £1,200 carbon fibre interior trim woven with copper strands.

Monthly pricing makes the premium trim levels easier to swallowRange Rover Velar review - front view, silver, 2020 Available to lease from £561 per month Lease Now

Leasing deals start from around £560 a month. That’s for a basic diesel Velar. Fancier SE trim starts from just over £600. The real-world pick of the Velar range, a D240 SE, is yours for around £640.

The Velar petrols aren’t great on fuel, so will prove thirsty in everyday driving. The diesels are much better – you’ll get around 30% more to the gallon, which is reason enough to overcome any diesel apathy.

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Verdict

Beauty is more than skin deep. The Velar is a lovely Land Rover to live with, oozing comfort and that luxury feel that makes life a bit more bearable. Considering how much it can easily cost, this is a good thing.

It’s a pity the engines aren’t more economical – come on, Land Rover, where are the plug-in hybrids? (the answer to that is on the way soon) – but they otherwise do a decent job, without making too much noise. And the Velar has the potential to terrify you off-road with its amazing abilities, not that anyone will ever discover this.

If you’re swooning over a Velar, choose carefully, and you’ll have a car that should always make you feel good about yourself. If ever you forget, simply drive past a shop window and take a long look.

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