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Kez Casey | Sep, 20 2017 | 2 Comments

Looking more like a concept car than an actual showroom-ready reality, the Range Rover Velar arrives in Australia to fill the gap between Land Rover’s already successful Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport lines.

Beneath the svelte chopped-roof styling, the Velar shares its basic mechanical parts with the Jaguar F-Pace, but unlike its Jaguar cousin, the newest Rangie doesn’t compromise on Land Rover’s iconic off-roadability, while at the same time delivering a new on-road benchmark for the British SUV specialist.

With a wide range of competitors in its sights, from the traditional Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, to the fastback BMW X4 and the almost sportscar-like Porsche Macan, the Velar doesn’t exactly get the market to itself, but with bold styling inside and out, and a massive array of available models, the Velar is determined to capture the attention of prestige medium SUV buyers.

Vehicle Style: Prestige medium SUV
Price: $71,550-$168,862 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 132kW/430Nm or 177kW/500Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel, 221kW/700Nm 3.0-litre 6cyl turbo diesel, 184kW/365Nm or 221kW/400Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 280kW/450Nm 3.0-litre 6cyl supercharged petrol
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.4-6.4 l/100km (diesel) 7.6-9.4 l/100km (petrol)

 

OVERVIEW

Thanks to an extensive range of variants, the 2018 Range Rover Velar presents a baffling array of trims and engines. But rather than pairing low output engines with lower levels of specification, and high performance units with top trims, Range Rover allows buyers to mix and match.

The result is two basic appearance groups; the regular Velar or the more sporty looking Velar R-Dynamic. Once you’ve settled on a theme for the styling you can choose any trim level, either base, S, SE, or HSE which step up through a range of features and equipment.

Finally you’ll need to pick and engine from a range of two four-cylinder petrol or two four-cylinder diesel units from Jaguar Land Rover’s new family of Ingenium engines, or a pair of V6 options, one a turbo diesel and the other a supercharged petrol.

Pricing for the range starts at a respectable $71,550 (plus on-road costs) for the base-specification Velar D180 up to $135,762 (plus on-roads) for the Velar R-Dynamic P380 HSE, not to mention two special launch editions, which essentially max-out the engine, trim levels, and options for a limited offer package that starts at $168,250 for the Velar R-Dynamic D300 First Edition diesel or $168,862 for the petrol-powered Velar R-Dynamic P380 First Edition.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Velar: Dual-zone climate control, artificial leather and suede seats, manual front seats, LED head and tail lights, auto lights and wipers, keyless entry and start, cruise control with speed limiter, gesture-control powered tailgate, 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Velar S: Perforated leather trim, 10-way powered front seats with memory, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, premium LED headlights 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Velar SE: Matrix LED headlights with signature running lights, customisable fully digital instrument cluster, 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Velar HSE: Power adjustable steering column, extended leather (dash and doors), 20-way adjustable front seats with massage function, steering wheel gearshift paddles, adaptive cruise control, 21-inch alloy wheels
  • Velar First Edition: Rear privacy glass, carbon and copper interior inlays, head up display, activity key, heated steering wheel, heated windscreen, suede-look headlining, 22-inch alloy wheels
  • Infotainment: Dual 10-inch touchscreens, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, Eight, 11, or 17-speaker audio, satellite navigation, USB and Bluetooth connectivity,
  • Cargo Volume: 673 litres minimum, 1731 litres maximum

Range Rover refers to its latest styling evolution as ‘reductionist’ and once seated inside the cabin it becomes clear what the term means. Like the exterior and its disappearing door handles, the interior features a bare minimum of controls and embellishments.

Tap the starter button though and the high-tech interior springs to life, waking two ten-inch touchscreens in the centre stack along with a digital instrument cluster. The lower of the two touch surfaces takes the place of traditional climate, vehicle function, and off-road controls, and uses a touch and scroll-wheel operations combo (using what would traditionally be the climate control dials) for ease of operation.

The upper screen is more like a traditional infotainment system, with a huge scope of ability from connectivity, to navigation, to good old fashioned radio functions with a bright clear display that rises up as the vehicle is started and stows flush when parked.

Put that together with a floating centre console, ambient LED lighting, and a range of less traditional colour and trim options, and the Velar feels more like a concept car than production reality.

Unfortunately the slick visuals didn’t translate to a trouble-free user experience, with one of the cars on test running into trouble with its capacitive steering wheel controls, one side of which stopped responding for about 15 minutes before blinking back into life as if nothing had happened.

High gloss surfaces, traditional leather finishes, a range of metallic highlights, and even a stunning carbon and copper weave for the First Edition models brings a thoroughly modern luxury feel to a brand perhaps more traditionally associated with old-school wood and stuffed leather - though that perception is fast changing.

Subtle nods to Range Rover’s British heritage can be found (depending on specification) in the Union Jack motif applied to speaker grilles and leather perforations, and for those that would prefer a more contemporary style an animal-free textile trim option is optionally available across the range.

As for space, the Velar is a comfy five seater, with enough room across the rear seat for three, though ideally two-up in the rear is a better fit. The front seats offer plenty of support (and can be optioned with extra adjustment and a massage function if you desire) though the narrow design might be a little tight for wider frames.

Despite the chopped-and-channeled exterior design, the boot is still usefully sized. Behind the powered tailgate (with gesture control opening as standard) there’s 673 litre of cargo space, which Land Rover describes as best in class. Cabin storage isn't as generous though with a compact glovebox and small centre console storage, but door pockets of a more useful size.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • Engines: 2x 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol 184kW/365Nm or 221kW/400Nm, 2x 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel 132kW/430Nm or 177kW/500Nm, 1x 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel 221kW/700Nm, 1x 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol 280kW/450Nm
  • Transmission: Eight speed automatic, all-wheel drive
  • Suspension: Wishbone front, multilink rear with adaptive or air dampers
  • Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
  • Steering: Electric power steering
  • Towing Capacity: 2400-2500kg braked, 750kg unbraked, 175kg towball load

The choice of engines is huge, meaning there’s a powertrain to suit just about any buyer and budget in the prestige SUV class. Range Rover is rolling out a new naming strategy too, with D180, D240, and D300 diesels and P250, P300, and P380 petrols - referring to their metric horsepower outputs.

At the launch of the Velar in the Blue Mountains only the 177kW D240 four-cylinder and 221kW D300 V6 diesels and 280kW P380 supercharged petrol V6 were available to drive, with the smaller four-cylinder engines the same as those offered in other Land Rover and Jaguar models.

All models come standard with all-wheel drive - a single speed system rather than a low-range 4x4 drivetrain - with an eight-speed automatic the sole transmission. Entry-level engines (D180 and P250) ride on steel springs only with adaptive dampers, D240 and P300 can be optioned with air suspension which is standard for the D300 and P380.

Beneath the skin the Velar is closely related to Jaguar’s F-Pace, however with Jaguar set as the group’s dynamic brand, and Land Rover’s reputation for ruggedness, the Velar steps back its sporting aspirations slightly, instead opting for increased rough road ability.

At the same time the Velar could be viewed as Range Rover’s most road-focussed offering as its on road refinement, stable steering, and level cornering (of the air-sprung variants tested) was easily the equal of its class competitors, though cars like the BMW X3 and Jaguar’s F-Pace do offer more finely honed road feel.

With the big 280kW/450Nm supercharged V6 under the bonnet, the Velar P380 feels more athletic than its circa 1800kg kerb weight (depending on specification) would otherwise suggest. But for ultimate effortlessness, the 221kW/700Nm D300 diesel V6 simply piles on pace like a bullet train under rolling acelleration.

Committed drivers will enjoy the wider rev range and more progressive torque curve of the petrol six, which communicates fluently with the well judged and smooth eight-speed auto. Gear shift paddles on the R-Dynamic models (and Velar HSE) exist for those that like to up their level of involvement, but the cheap plastic paddles can’t match the transmission’s best efforts when left to its own devices.

Excellent levels of insulation from road, wind and engine noise put the Velar firmly within the best of the premium medium SUV segment, but the 22-inch wheels of First Edition cars can jar slightly over rougher road surfaces, compared to the more measured response of 20-inch and 21-inch wheels on lesser models.

The P380 V6 also lacks the aural signature of the same engine in Jaguar applications, with a calmer exhaust better suited to quiet cruising, but falling slightly short of the Velar’s role as a new dynamic champion.

Even with big 350mm front brake discs on V6 variants (optional on four-cylinder models) the Velar doesn’t stop as confidently as it should as a softish pedal feel tempers driver confidence, although in an emergency stop there’s plenty of assistance - a little more initial bite would be welcomed by the average driver.

The real surprise package, and perhaps the sweet-spot of the range, is the high-output D240 four-cylinder diesel with 177kW and 500Nm capable of moving the Velar around effortlessly. Refinement is just a half-step behind the V6 twins, with a little low rev clatter, but it’s tractable, responsive, and doesn’t feel like a lesser engine at all.

While impeccable on-road manners are just one of the Velar’s party tricks, it’s also still capable in some off-road situations. On an off-road circuit the Velar showed off its wheel articulation and available grip (in dry conditions) in concert with Terrain Response adaptive all-wheel drive that uses electronics to set-up the vehicle for use on sand, gravel, mud or snow, or can be left in auto mode to work out its own best approach.

Without a low range transfer case the low-speed crawling capabilities can’t hope to match a the larger Range Rover Sport or Land Rover Discovery, but for the average urban dweller the extended sand, mud, and snow ability works well with a standard locking rear differential and available height-adjustable air suspension that ensures it should be more than enough to allow access to campsites and fishing spots off the beaten path.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP Rating: The Range Rover Velar has yet to tested by ANCAP.

Safety Features: All Velar models come with six airbags (dual front, front seat side, full-length curtain), autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, electronic stability including rollover mitigation and trailer sway control, tyre pressure monitoring and a rear-view camera. Additional features on higher-specification vehicles (also available optionally) include driver fatigue monitoring, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, distance keeping cruise control, and surround-view camera.

 

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Three years/100,000km

Servicing: Pre-paid service packages are available from Land Rover dealers with service intervals for the four-cylinder diesel models occurring every 34,000km or 24 months, and petrol four-cylinder, petrol V6 and diesel V6 engines requiring more frequent 12 month or 26,000km servicing.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Land Rover’s brand identity is stronger than ever, and the confidence the upscale Range Rover division has shown with its latest model makes it a visual standout in an otherwise conservative field.

Supercar-style pop-out door handles and minimalist multi-screen interiors aren’t necessarily enough to grab the attention of demanding consumers, which is why with its more powerful engines as tested here, the Velar also shines due to its blend of engaging dynamics and unique (for the class) rough road capabilities.

Though a brochure may look bewildering at first glance, Land Rover has done the right thing by buyers with the option to mix-and-match engines and trim packages any way you like instead of dictating how cars are packaged. Base car with flagship engine? Sure. Top-spec HSE with a 132kW diesel? If you like.

Ultimately though sex sells, and thanks to its big wheel at each corner stance, muscled wheel arches, and shaved body sides the Velar makes a play for the emotions of buyers like no Range Rover before it.

MORE: Range Rover News and Reviews

 
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