Once it was just one model, but now “Range Rover” is a brand spanning four models, including the new Velar.
Welcome to the latest instalment in the brave new world of Range Rover, which began in 2004 when the Rangie Sport joined the world’s original luxury SUV and expanded further in 2011 with the introduction of the sleek Evoque mid-sizer.
The Velar brings a new level of design, luxury and off-road capability to the mid-size premium SUV class.
Now the Velar fills the size and price gap between the latter two and – because it shares its advanced, aluminium-rich platform and engines with the similarly priced Jaguar F-PACE – it is far more sophisticated and luxurious than the Evoke.
It is fitted as standard with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and – except for the cheapest petrol and diesel models – adaptive air suspension; it also brings a class-leading level of off-road ability.
Not that many Velar buyers will care. The closest most owners will go to off-roading will be the swimming hole at the “Promised Lands”. Although rock-climbing capability will be a nice-to-know for customers and remains a prerequisite for Range Rover, it’s on-road performance that will matter to the vast majority.
The Velar excels on shire roads and the A1 motorway. It is sublimely quiet, refined and relaxed; it feels a little softer and more luxurious than the F-PACE and its other mid-size rivals from Germany on the bitumen, where the air suspension is supple and the steering precise, if a little slow and lacking in feedback for my sharp responses.
Rear legroom is fairly tight; there are some reflections from the heavily chromed centre console and you have to pay extra for a surprisingly long list of optional extras – including even a luggage net – but I think prospective buyers will be so enamoured with the Velar’s “reductionism” endearing design and high-tech features that they’ll overlook these foibles.
The highlight of the beautifully crafted, high-quality interior is JLR’s new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, which comprises two 10-inch high-definition colour touch-screens – the upper one for navigation and the lower one for audio, climate, seat, off-road and other vehicle functions – many of which are echoed in the 5.0-inch colour TFT instrument display.
There’s no shortage of choice, with three diesel engines (D180 and D240 four-cylinder and D300 V6), six petrol engines (P250 and P300 four-cylinder and P380 V6), four equipment grades (Velar, S, SE and HSE) and three design packages (Velar, R-Dynamic and First Edition).
All models – from the 132 kW Ingenium-engined D180 to the 280 kW supercharged V6 P380 – come with a 2,500 kg braked tow capacity.
Standard safety equipment at base level is extensive, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, reversing camera, six airbags, traction/stability control, roll stability control, cornering brake control, torque vectoring by braking, anti-lock brakes, emergency brake assist, brake pad wear indicator, hill descent control, gradient release control, hill launch assist, trailer stability assist, tyre pressure monitoring and a perimeter alarm.
Other range-wide standard equipment includes all-wheel drive, a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, Terrain Response, Powered Gesture Tailgate, electric park brake, adaptive dynamics, idle-stop, electric power steering, automatic wipers and headlights, front/rear LED lights, heated wing mirrors, acoustic laminated windscreen, keyless entry/start and rear parking sensors.
Base models run on 18-inch alloy wheels but still score a leather steering wheel, illuminated vanity mirrors, Morzine headlining, 5.0-inch instrument panel display, black gearshift paddles, metal scuff and tread plates, dual-zone climate-control, ambient interior lighting, Bluetooth connectivity, air quality sensor and 250W eight-speaker audio.
In short, with 50 model variants and an endless options list, there’s a Velar for everyone – if you’re prepared to pay for it and wait for it.
Either way, with this much customisation, style, technology, luxury and all-terrain capability now available in the mid-size premium SUV segment, get ready to see a lot more of the sleekest, most car-like Ranger Rover ever at your local school kiss-and-drop soon.
For further info / test drive call: 6656 8740.
2018 Range Rover Velar D240
Price $80,950 (plus on-road costs)
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Output 177 kW/500 Nm
Transmission Eight-speed automatic
Fuel 5.8 L/100 km
CO2 154 g/km