Range Rover Velar SUV review
“The Range Rover Velar is one of the coolest SUVs money can buy, with eye-catching looks and cutting-edge in-car technology”
- Sharp yet comfortable
- Jaw-dropping interior
- Stunning looks
- Rear space is tight
- Thirsty petrol engines
- Nice ones are expensive
Land Rover caused a stir when it launched the stylish looking Range Rover Velar in 2017. Named after the 1970 prototype for the original Range Rover, the Velar sits between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport and is offered in a broad range of variants.
It means the Velar faces a veritable army of SUV rivals, as its price range matches models from the top end of the BMW X3 range to the entry-level Audi Q7. However, few can compete with the Velar for sheer glamour – even such fashion-conscious models as the BMW X4, Porsche Macan, Mercedes GLE Coupe Volvo XC90, and Lexus RX seem a little conservative parked next to the futuristic Velar.
It doesn't only look ahead of its time on the outside. Approach the Velar and your central-locking fob prompts the door handles to pop out of its flanks, and swinging the door open reveals an interior that has most other SUVs licked for visual appeal. The central console is made up of an extended glossy black panel, but this turns into a technological showcase when you power the Velar up. Two 10-inch touchscreens spring into life with high-contrast graphics, while the top screen pivots on the vertical axis, returning to the angle at which you last set it.
The Velar comes as standard with four-wheel drive and is available with two petrol and two diesel engines, along with a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The 201bhp 2.0-litre D200 diesel is the sweet spot of the range, as its 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds is brisk, while its fuel economy of up to 44mpg (depending on wheel size and options) is reasonable. The 395bhp P400 petrol is undoubtedly quick, but it's much more expensive than the P250, which handles just as well. The PHEV is likely to be popular with company-car drivers, because it emits from just 50g/km of CO2, making it far cheaper to tax.
Sitting right at the top of the range, the SVAutobiography version has a thunderous 542bhp supercharged V8, slashing the Velar's 0-62mph time to 4.5 seconds. This makes it a rival to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo but unlike the closely related Jaguar F-Pace SVR, the Velar still rides on air suspension. This gives it a more relaxed character and means it's still remarkably capable off road.
The Velar isn't a flawless package. Its shapeliness comes at the cost of versatility: its boot is big and well shaped, but room in the rear seats is tight, especially for a car of this size. And while those hi-tech controls on the centre console look great, we find them distracting on the move. Then there’s the price. Yes, the Velar starts at a relatively attractive £45,000, but it’s easy enough to spend £70,000 or even £80,000 on one; that’s a lot of money, however stylish it may be.
Range Rover offers the Velar in a number of trims and we advise side-stepping the (unnamed) entry-level model in favour of at least S or SE trim, as these bring leather seats and sat nav. Pair SE with the D200 diesel engine and you’ll keep the Velar’s price below £55,000, which seems something of a tipping point in terms of value-for-money.
Safety shouldn't be a concern, thanks to a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, with a reassuring 93% score for adult occupant protection. Reliability has always been a bit of a sticking point for Land Rover and a 25th-place finish out of 30 brands featured in our 2020 Driver Power Survey is a potential worry.