The new Range River Velar is here and as is their wont, Jaguar Land Rover seem able to shoehorn a new model into every tiny gap in their range. But first, why the name?
Funnily enough, the company have had this name for years as it was the code name for the very first Range Rover back in the 1960’s and as they needed to obfuscate it’s true identity, the Velar name was born. As the word is first-person singular present indicative of the Latin verb velare, which means to hide, it would all seem to make sense.
As to how they shoehorn new models in without stealing sales from their own range, l eventually get to see what they are doing. If you don’t want the Evoque, then it is a big jump up to the Range Rover therefore sticking this model in the middle gives an extra step in the range. The Evoque starts at £30,760 and with the RR Sport at £61,315, there is quite a jump so popping the Velar in at £44,830, provides that extra step.
So what of the car itself. I have to say l was very impressed. It feels like a full fat Range Rover whilst at the same time feeling quite like a standard car rather than a lumbering beast. It uses a new platform sharing it underpinnings with the F-Pace. Outside, it is smooth and svelte with door handles that disappear and a silhouette that looks streamlined and slippery. Its surface begs to be stroked.
The interior is also quite a sight. Most buttons and switches have gone and you are presented with no less than two screens that are touch sensitive - three if you count the one in the centre dash with heads up display. The top screen carries navigation, entertainment and comms with the bottom screen offering climate control, seat controls, off-road functions and a swipe facility that offers a wealth of other options. These can be controlled from the screen or from the knobs on the steering wheel, the display on which changes depending on what you are attempting to do and that confused me for a while as if you look away for a minute, they are changed when you look back but once understood, it is quite intuitive. The system has fast data, serves as wi-fi and has a bunch of apps for travel and commerce. The seats are superb and adjust a million ways, are heated and cooled and will massage you on your way to heaven. All in all, it is very impressive.
Handling and Power
With my disgust at all things diesel and/or slow, l plumped for the 3.0-litre petrol and was thankful l did as it is quick. I mean properly quick if you pop it into sport, giving you 380bhp and a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds which for a big and hefty 4x4 ain’t too shabby. I must say it actually feels quicker than that and l was never bored with the speed available.
It handles beautifully and has superb road manners although, like all tall heavy cars, it is none too pleased with being chucked around corners, although the roll is not as bad as some others in the sector but then pop it into sport and this tightens the damping, lowers the body and shifts more power to the rear.
The off-road modes are all there as you would expect, raising it off the ground, changing powertrain calibration and the traction and diff thresholds. It’s got wade sensing so it’ll ford a flood or possibly drive to France at low tide. When you are in those modes, the head-up display shows axle articulation and inclination angles and diff lock status.
Power trains come with various options with a 2.0-litre diesel and petrol, then two V6’s with the diesels offering 300bhp, and the supercharged petrol offering 380bhp and they are all from the JLR’s Ingenium family.
Style over Substance?
This is not style over substance but that rare combo of style and substance. It is a bit of a design statement with a mass of glass, smooth lines and very shiny metal but then gets on with the job of being a hugely competent on and off-road car that just about anyone would be proud to have in their drive.
I love the full fat Range Rover and would buy it every day of the week but the new Velar would give me pause for thought and l guess this is JLR’s intention as both are their cars and it is yet another reason not to go to Stuttgart.