Making a strong case for the crown jewel of the Range Rover lineup
Words by: Adam Allen
What do we have here? It’s…beautiful.
Land Rover will be quick to point out that crown jewel honors of the lineup currently reside with the model that bears the Range Rover name, and it comes by that distinction honestly- it’s classic but cleanly modern styling still turns heads, the interior is indulgently decadent and it offers exemplary performance both on road and off. Now that the Velar has been added to the stables- it’s meant to fill the gap between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport- we think the sweet spot of the portfolio might be in need of a rethink. Sure, the Range Rover will always hold a special place in our hearts but the Velar is so good that it caused a flicker of hesitation when asked which one of the two we’d make a permanent fixture in the Carpages Garage.
Tell us more about the Velar.
Let’s begin with its name, derived from mid-18th century Latin which translates literally to curtain, covering or veil. Although the name might not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about exquisitely designed SUV’s we elected not to concern ourselves with the Marketing naming strategy and chose to instead focus on what it brings to the table. To give you an idea of its stature, the Velar shares a platform with Jaguar’s hot-selling F Pace, meaning it’s rightly sized for most folks. The prevailing vibe here is that of previously unseen levels of styling perfection, and they achieved that without the help of Victoria Beckham. Inside and out, it is nothing short of superlative. We don’t normally get excited about SUV styling exercises, but we were taken aback when we laid eyes on the Velar in the metal. It takes the Range Rover design ethos and pulls the design cues tauter, making it appear purposeful but sleek at the same time. We weren’t the only ones- many a passerby would stop short in their tracks to behold its striking design. The whole thing screams of haute couture and good taste.
They nailed the looks, but how does it drive?
We told you that it shares its bones with the Jaguar F Pace, an SUV we proclaimed that it offers “a feast of dynamic delights”. Of the two, the Jag is more athletic but that doesn’t mean the Velar will groan in protest if you want to pick up the pace. It’s simply a more reserved experience than its platform mate and grabbing it by the scruff of its neck isn’t what the Velar is all about. Where its chassis differs from the F Pace is the impressive off-road credentials it offers, meaning if you aren’t concerned about potentially scarring the immaculate matte grey paint it will go pretty much anywhere you ask of it. Helping it perform on the tarmac or on a trail is the standard air suspension that delivers ride quality that is nothing short of exemplary. The Velar is ambivalent to the nastiest potholes and overzealous speed bumps we encountered and the body control is first rate, more impressive when you consider it’s riding on massive 22” wheels and performance-oriented rubber. Motivating the entire package is Range Rover’s familiar supercharged 3.0 litre V6 and 8-speed automatic. In the past we’ve commented on the engine feeling a bit coarse while spinning throughout its operating range but we didn’t find that to be the case with the Velar. It offers satisfying urge and the transmission clicks off shifts smartly in every situation. Generally speaking, it’s a pleasure to drive.
That interior though…
The Velar is a sight to behold, and that theme continues unabated when you climb aboard. As you take everything in, the pleasure centre of your brain will light up in approval. There is nary a whiff of cheapness anywhere to be found- every single surface, nook and cranny is finished in top notch materials and buttery leather. We were smitten by the carbon fiber trim that would look great on its own, but the Velar boasts copper filament intertwined in the weave pattern which is something we’ve never seen before. Each passenger is treated to comfortable seats that are heated with massage (and cooled up front) and the silence at speed lends a feeling of true luxury. The real story here is the InConrol Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. Now, we haven’t exactly swooned over Range Rover’s technology in the past, complaining of draconian menu layers and response times that are unacceptably long to execute commands. And when we saw that all but a few knobs and switches have been phased out in favor of two edgeless glass panels, our doubts that things might go terribly awry were top of mind. Thankfully, our fears were completely unfounded. What Range Rover have gifted the Velar with is a system that boasts a razor sharp graphical interface that’s beautiful to look at. The twin screen setup does take some time to get used to, but once familiarity starts to take hold you can breeze through whatever you’d like to do, with hardly any need to take your eyes off the road. The company has made great strides in this department- only a few short years ago they were maddening to use and a 1980’s video game console would have rivalled the system for graphical superiority. In summing up, the Velar looks as good on the inside as it does on the outside.
What might go wrong?
As soon as we finish heaping praise on the InControl touch infotainment, we’ll follow up with a slight niggle- we wish the system responded just a little faster to a command. Selecting a radio station, for instance, takes longer than it should. When we first saw the price tag of $106,090 it was understood that we were going to grumble about the eye-watering price of admission; after all, the Velar starts at $62,000 which means it has almost as much as a Range Rover Evoque in options. This is the First Edition after all, which means everything- every single available option- is included in this truck. After spending a week driving the Velar about town and basking in its unparalleled beauty inside and out, that window sticker began to make sense. The bottom line is, the Velar is a fantastic effort and it feels it. If it was just another wallflower in the luxury SUV space and demanded that kind of dough simply because that’s what the market can bear, we’d have been front and centre with our pitchforks. The fact remains that there are cars out there that cost more and don’t deliver as much of a rewarding experience, and after considering that we saw the price with renewed perspective.
Should I buy a Range Rover Velar?
If you are the type of person who values style above all else- perhaps you’ve bought a BMW X6 instead of the much more sensible X5- then you must have the Velar. There is no compromise asked of you either; no truncated roof, no awkward ingress and egress required. If we had the means to add a luxury SUV of the Velar’s caliber as a permanent fixture in the Carpages Garage, we would do so without hesitation. The Range Rover will always exude the quiet confidence you’d expect of flagship, but the Velar just might challenge it for the most coveted in the entire lineup.
2018 Range Rover Velar First Edition- Specifications
- Price as tested: $106,090
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 340 @ 6,500 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 332 @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
- Curb weight: 2,028 kg (4,471 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 12.9L/100km (18 mpg)