Range Rover Velar Review
It’s not the most spacious, or the most practical, or even the quickest vehicle in the illustrious Range Rover line-up.
But the Velar is the most stylish, proving achingly pleasing on the eye both inside and out.
It’s a mid-size SUV that has been turning heads since first being unveiled in 2017 and which received some key updates earlier this year - mainly to the choice of engines.
And the Velar is important because it also occupies the key middle ground between the smallest Range Rover - the Evoque - and the ultra-desirable Range Rover Sport.
If you can’t quite stretch to a Sport, the Velar is a pretty damned good fall-back option.
Select's rating score* - 4.1 / 5
While even base models are really well specced, including a new and improved infotainment system, don’t expert air suspension as standard - you’ll need to go for a swankier trim to get the plushest ride quality.
But there is a good choice of engines to suit all sorts of buyers. Want a bog-standard 2.0 litre petrol engine? All good, that’d be the ‘P250’. Want a plug-in hybrid with absolutely bags of power? No problem, go for the P400e.
Almost all of the engine options feature economy boosting mild-hybrid tech, too.
The issue here is that you can soon start increasing the Velar’s base £46,110 price tag depending on which engine and trim you go for.
Choose the ‘R-Dynamic’ model with a powerful 3.0 petrol engine and it’ll cost you at least £64,365. That’s properly into Range Rover Sport or well-specced Audi Q7 territory.
It’ll be similarly story re monthly payments if you plan to lease a Velar, too. And that cost might make you want to reassess which boxes you tick when you’re configuring your order.
All Velar’s come with four-wheel-drive and while they’re not as adept off-road as other Range Rovers, it’s perfectly capable of tackling some muddy stuff. A high, commanding view of the road is the order of the day and while it’s not the most agile car on the road, steering is tight and precise.
If you’re looking for a truly sporty ride, you might want to think about leasing a much tauter Porsche Macan, starting from around £560 per month.
Some owners of the previous Velar model complained about the slightly-niggly infotainment system, though that should have been sorted with the new ‘Pivi’ set up.
And while knee room in the back is tight for grown adults, head space is decent and there’s a huge boot that’s up there with the biggest in class.
Take a good, long look at the Velar brochure… and then flip right back to the start again. Because you really can’t go too wrong with the cheapest diesel engine, the D200.
This was an engine introduced earlier this year to replace the previous entry-level diesel, and it’s also a four-cylinder 2.0 litre mill that features in the Range Rover Evoque. And it’s a real jack-of-all trades.
It’s a mild-hybrid, making use of a 48 volt battery, and with 204 hp to play with it’ll accelerate from 0-60mph in an ample 7.7 seconds. Crucially, it’s an engine that also delivers decent fuel economy.
If that’s not enough to set the heart racing, the quickest engine in the line up also happens to be the most frugal, too - the P400e plug-in hybrid.
This P400e uses both a 2.0 litre petrol engine and a 17.1kWh battery to create a combined 404 hp - enough power to catapult the Velar from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds.
There’s a similarly powered 3.0, six cylinder petrol engine, but it’s no quicker than the plug-in hybrid and a lot thirstier, and makes little sense as an option.
All Velars come with a slick and responsive eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard
Leasing the entry level D200 Velar begins at around £480 per month, and it really does appeal when you consider the plug-in hybrid version bumps-up that price to around £570 per month. The Velar becomes even more attractive knowing some key rivals are more expensive to lease - the Audi Q7 starting at around £530 per month and the BMW X6 from £630 per month.
And the D200 should be a doddle to live with on a day-to-day basis, too. You’ll get up to 43 miles to the gallon with this engine, while CO2 emissions are 172 g/km. You might think you need a petrol rather than a diesel, particularly if you’re not doing lots of motorway miles.
But bear this in mind - even the base 2.0 petrol, the P250, returns less than 30 miles to the gallon and chucks out a not inconsiderable 220 g/km of CO2 - a fact that’ll be of particular importance for company car drivers looking to avoid increases in Benefit-In-Kind (BIK) tax.
Of course, if frugality is really what you’re after, the plug-in hybrid has it in spades. Not only will it travel for around 33 miles purely on electricity alone, the P400e also returns a claimed 121 miles to the gallon while emitting planet-savingly low levels of CO2 - just 52 g/km.
The PHEV significantly improves cost-of-ownership - with a benefit-in-kind tax rate for business or company car drivers starting from just 10%. For a 40% taxpayer, this rate would mean monthly tax bills as low as £214.30 in the current financial year.
If the Velar falls between the Range Rover Sport and Evoque in terms of size and price-tag, it also falls between those stables in terms of the interior.
It’s more luxurious and roomy than the Evoque but not quite up the swank levels of the Sport. While it’s tactile and elegant in the main, look close enough and you’ll be able to spot some hard plastic. The biggest improvement on the old Velar is to the infotainment system and touchscreens.
Where before they definitely looked better than they functioned, style now meets substance.
The Pivi and Pivi Pro infotainment systems - also now part of the Jaguar E-Pace - feature large dual screens that are both easy to use and intuitive, learning your habits to predict your personal preferences. Software updates occur automatically and over-the-air while Jaguar Land Rover says the sat-nav primes in the time it takes for you to enter and start the car.
Another nice touch is the Velar’s new ‘smart’ Cabin Air Filtration system, which filters out the harmful particulate matter you might expect to encounter in the city, while also getting rid of allergens and pollen, keeping sneezing fits to a minimum in the summer months.
Also welcome is the Velar’s new ‘Active Road Noise Cancellation’ - which works a bit like high-end headphones, calculating the opposite phase sound wave needed to remove the noise heard by the occupants. In simple terms, it means the cabin is a quieter and more serene place to be on long journeys.
The Velar is a full-on SUV, so room in the front is more than generous. But it’s knee room in the back that might be of concern to some owners - the Q7 has more space in the back and is less of a compromise.
The person sitting in the middle of the rear bench might also be slightly put out by the large hump in the floor they’ll have to straddle. Boot size is good, though, with 748 litres of space compared with the Q7’s 775 litre capacity, when the Q7’s third row of seats is folded flat.
And the 40/20/40 split for the rear bench will be handy for carrying long items, like a set of skis. Elsewhere there’s a cavernous glove box, cubby holes in the armrest, and USB ports sneakily hidden in the rear so that you’ll always have somewhere to either stash or charge your phone.
The Velar gets the full five stats from Euro NCAP (The European New Car Assessment Programme).
And Euro NCAP had particular praise for the Velar’s autonomous emergency braking system, which demonstrated ‘good performance, with collisions avoided or mitigated in all tests.’
This comes as standard on all Velars, as does a driver condition monitor and lane keep assist,
Other more practical driver assistance gadgets that come as standard are cruise control, speed limiter, a 3D surround camera, front and rear parking sensors, and wade sensing for tackling deep water. Moving up the range from the base model, you can also enjoy things like adaptive cruise control and an adaptive speed limiter.
There are plenty, so pay attention. The new Velar comes in three main guides - ‘Velar’, ‘R-Dynamic’, and ‘Velar Edition’.
And then you can also get four different ‘Specification Packs’ for the Velar and the R-Dynamic, running from standard up through S, SE and HSE.
Depending on what might catch your eye, the cost of the Velar can soon start to sky-rocket. If you want the R-Dynamic with the most powerful petrol engine and in HSE guise and with tinted windows, you’re talking a list price of more than £71,300. Chuck in an extra £1,650 if you want the sliding panoramic glass roof.
All paint jobs other than the standard white attract a premium - from £760 to £1,480 - and high tech Matrix LED headlights are an extra two grand.
Meanwhile pretty much everything in the interior is customisable, from the roof liner to the steering wheel - of which you’ve got five to choose from.
You can view the Velar as something of an all-rounder - and one that’ll look very nice indeed sitting on your driveway, sure to get admiring glances from the neighbours.
If you want something with a little more sport, you’ll probably look to the Porsche Macan, including the Macan S and Macan GTS, with the latter of those two boasting 380 PS and a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds.
But perhaps the biggest rival to the Velar is a car from its own stable - the Jaguar F-Pace. Because it’s a Jaguar Land Rover effort, the F-Pace shares engines and tech with the Velar, and handles similarly well.
It’s then perhaps a toss-up between who wins the battle of the exterior styling - which, for our money, is a race the Velar wins by a nose.
A couple of years ago, in 2018, the Range Rover Velar was awarded the title of ‘most beautifully designed vehicle on the planet, winning the World Car Design of the Year title at the 2018 World Car Awards.
And it’s very hard to argue with that verdict, particularly if you’re talking about luxury SUVs, because few can match the curves of the Velar’s sumptuous body. And for our money, less is more when it comes to configuring your own personal Velar. The base diesel engine is more than enough for most people’s needs and it avoids you having to bump up the list price to a level where you start looking over your shoulder at more upmarket rivals.
Meanwhile the new plug-in hybrid model, only made available since September, is a real game changer, too, proving as economic as it is absolutely rapid.
The comfortable, refined interior might not be class-leading, but the Velar’s cabin is still a great place to park your posterior and the fiddly infotainment system from the Velars of old has thankfully been overhauled.
Point it at the rough stuff and it’ll do a job, too. Brains and beauty? Don’t mind if we do.
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top six leading independent car website reviews of the Range Rover Velar
**Correct as of 04/11/2020. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £4,325.51 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.