The Range Rover Velar is the SUV of the moment. Its slippery shape and stunning interior make it ultra desirable, but it’s the first Range Rover to heavily prioritise form over than function. There’s a good selection of engines but be aware of tight rear seat passenger space and high list prices. The Velar may well start at just under £45,000 but you’ll be spending a lot more than that for a Velar with all the kit you’d want. That said, who said style and fashion come cheap?

The Range Rover Velar is the latest addition to Land Rover’s Range Rover line-up, and it’s an all-new entry with a name that might be familiar to those in tune with Land Rover’s history.

The Velar name goes back to the 1960s, when it was used as an alias to disguise original Range Rover prototypes. As such the new Velar wears possibly the oldest name in the Range Rover line-up.

It plugs the gap between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, meaning that there’s now less of a gulf between Range Rover’s entry-level offering and its larger SUVs. It also cuts a more individual shape compared to the rest of the line-up, with a new design language and a rakish roofline. It doesn’t quite occupy a new coupe SUV position, but it’s easily the closest Land Rover has come to filling that niche.

The Velar’s position in the range and its overall shape means that it covers plenty of bases, and as such it enters the market with a wide variety of rivals in its sights. This is a car that goes up against the likes of the Porsche MacanJaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60 as well as the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe.

From launch, Land Rover is offering a broad range of engines and specs. Basic Velar models score that attractive entry-level price tag, seven more versions slot in above – S, SE, HSE cars plus sporty looking R-Dynamic S, SE and HSE models. At launch there’s a range topping, limited run ‘First Edition’ Velar too, which comes loaded with kit.

There’s also a wide spread of diesel and petrol choices when it comes to engines, though the most basic and cheapest Velar is only available with a 178bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel.

Powertrain options open up further up the range with a 237bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a 296bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel. Petrols kick off with a 247bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder, sitting beneath two six-cylinder 3.0-litre options. One of these engines matches its diesel counterpart with 296bhp, though the range topping P380 car packs an impressive 375bhp. This flagship engine is only available on HSE and R-Dynamic HSE models.

While the styling will be one of this new car’s biggest draws, the cabin and tech is all-new as well. The Velar boasts the latest Jaguar Land Rover infotainment systems, with the new Touch Pro Duo system the highlight. Twin 10-inch touchscreens stack on top of each other in the centre console and dashboard, while digital dials also mean that the Velar’s interior is fresh and modern.

Engines, performance and drive

The Velar comes with Jaguar Land Rover’s latest range of efficient 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines. The V6 versions are more familiar, but fit just as well.

The Velar is positioned as the most dynamic Range Rover in the range. It uses the mostly aluminium platform from the Jaguar F-Pace and shares a large amount of componentry with that very car.

While the ride on standard steel springs is harsher than on any other Range Rover, the Velar still feels more comfortable and refined than the F-Pace. This only improves with the more expensive V6 models, as they come with air suspension as standard. Velars fitted with air suspension ride very well indeed and don’t feel remotely bouncy. Nor do they lend the car to excessive body roll, with plenty of control through tight bends.

The ride is made even more comfortable with small wheels, as the biggest 21 or 22-inch rims can send small shockwaves into the cabin. However, the Velar looks best on large wheels so most people will put up with a small amount of discomfort in order to look good on the road.

You’d be hard pushed to tell the Velar is related to the Jaguar F-Pace because Land Rover has succeeded in making the Velar feeling very ‘Range Roverish’ to drive. The steering is meaty but languid and the Velar’s natural character is to waft rather than thrill – this is despite it being supposedly the most dynamic Range Rover model ever. The feeling is helped by the standard eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox which, depending on which engine you go for, can feel super sharp or a little lost when it comes to choosing the right gear.  

Engines

The Velar is available with Jaguar Land Rover’s latest 2.0-litre petrol and diesels built at its new Wolverhampton factory in the West Midlands. We’ve yet to try a Velar powered by a 2.0-litre engine in either petrol or diesel guise, but experience with other large JLR SUVs like the Discovery would suggest they are a decent fit.

Most buyers will be persuaded to go for the V6 engines. Though older they still offer desirable amounts of power and torque – the 296bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel is a highlight. Though slightly costly to run, it nicely matches the Velar’s part-luxury, part-sporty nature, and is quiet and smooth on the move.

Many potential buyers will take one look at the 375bhp 3.0-litre supercharged petrol’s running costs and be put off immediately, however we suspect a few buyers will still plump for it, as it allows the Velar to easily rival cars like the Porsche Macan GTS. It’s the same engine used in the Jaguar F-Type and offers similar levels of aural delight – even if the Velar is naturally slightly quieter thanks to its larger body, better sound insulation and more hushed exhaust system. It’s a seriously quick car, though, and can haul the two-tonne Velar along at a decent pace.

MPG, CO2 and running costs

Four-wheel drive only means economy figures aren’t exceptional, but they’re still respectable for an SUV of this size and weight

The Range Rover Velar is different from more attainable Land Rover models such as the Evoque and Discovery Sport because there is no front-wheel drive version offered. Even the entry-level diesel is 4WD only, which fits with the car’s high-end target market.

It does, however, mean that the 178bhp diesel manages a respectable but not outstanding 52.5mpg on the claimed combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 142g/km. That’s only marginally less than front-wheel drive versions of the BMW X3, for example, which shows how efficient Land Rover’s four-wheel drive system is.

If you want to step up to a the 237bhp twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel, the economy penalty isn’t too bad, either (it manages 48.7mpg and emits 154g/km). More impressive is the V6 diesel, which despite the extra two cylinders and a substantial 700Nm of torque still claims 44.1mpg and 167g/km. Regardless of CO2, however, all Velars are subject to the £310 a year road tax supplement for cars over £40,000.

Unsurprisingly, the petrols fare less well when it comes to efficiency. The most frugal 247bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder manages 37.2mpg combined and emits 173g/km, while the 296bhp V6 is very nearly as good. The top-spec supercharged 375bhp V6 petrol only manages 30.1mpg combined, and emits 214g/km of CO2. Ultimately, buyers at this price point are more worried about range than fuel consumption, and it’s the diesels which offer a greater distance between fill-ups.

Insurance groups

The Velar’s insurance looks to be roughly on a par with rivals from Audi and BMW, and cheaper than cars such as the PorscheMacan, which is a good achievement when you consider the Velar’s cost and desirability. The base diesel starts at group 31, and it rises to group 45 for top-spec supercharged V6 models.

Depreciation

Land Rover hasn’t released residual value data for the Velar just yet, but we’d be surprised if it fared any worse than other JLR products. Smaller siblings like the Range Rover Evoque offer residuals that are well ahead of many premium rivals, so we’d expect to see the same again here, with the Velar rivalling the Porsche Macan for retained value after three years.

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