UK Drive: Is the Range Rover Velar just as desirable as always?

The Velar operates in the middle of the Range Rover line-up – but does it provide the best of both worlds?

Range Rover Velar
Range Rover Velar

What is it?

Range Rover Velar
The rear-end design of the Velar is striking

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The Velar has occupied the middle ground of Range Rover’s line-up and has done so since 2017. Sitting between the smaller Evoque and the more dynamic Sport, it has offered the kind of luxury that buyers expect from the brand, alongside a sweeping eye-catching look.

But 2017 was a little while ago now and the SUV game has moved on considerably, which is why the Velar has been given a hefty tweak to ensure it stays current. Though plug-in hybrid versions are available, we’re testing it here with a traditional 3.0-litre diesel – albeit one with a bit of electrical assistance for improved efficiency.

What’s new?

Range Rover Velar
The Range Rover badge is synonymous with luxury

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From the outside at least, you’d be hard-pressed to see what has changed. The front end has been lightly redesigned, but Jaguar Land Rover is fully aware that the Velar’s design was one of its strongest attributes so has left things largely alone.

The real change here is the addition of those mild-hybrid powertrains, alongside four-cylinder plug-in hybrid options. Plus, the Velar has been given JLR’s latest Pivi Pro infotainment system as well as active noise cancellation to help keep the cabin as hushed as possible.

What’s under the bonnet?

Range Rover Velar
The 3.0-litre straight-six is a great fit for the Velar

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Our particular Velar used a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine bringing 296bhp and 650Nm of torque, enabling a 0-60mph time of 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 143mph. It’s a fine choice for the Velar and matches this car’s character well, with easy, robust performance accessible from low down in the rev range. This makes the Velar into an accomplished cruiser.

But with fuel economy of up to 38.2mpg it’s also reasonably efficient for a car of this size, while CO2 emissions of between 194-209g/km depending on wheel size are respectable, too.

What’s it like to drive?

Range Rover Velar
The Velar is still capable off road

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The Velar offers that big, luxurious and premium-feeling driving experience that you’d expect from a high-end SUV. Of course, the high seating position gives you that elevated view of the road ahead, but there’s far more on offer here than just height. The steering has a decent amount of accuracy to it, while the diesel engine is far punchier than the numbers might lead you to believe.

But the overarching aspect here is the refinement. Our test car rode on 21-inch wheels with a decent size of tyre and when coupled with well-judged suspension helped to give the Velar a genuinely compliant ride. On the motorway, the Velar is serene and comfortable, while the quiet cabin helps to take away any stress from the journey.

How does it look?

Range Rover Velar
The Velar is very composed at a cruise

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As we’ve already mentioned, Land Rover hasn’t done an awful lot when it comes to exterior modifications for this latest Velar. To us, that doesn’t feel like a missed opportunity; the Velar’s styling is striking and even better to view in the metal, where its angular headlights and sharp rear end combine to create a car that is genuinely pleasing to the eye.

It can be a little colour-dependent, mind you. Lighter shades can blend the Velar’s attractive styling away from prominence while, to our eyes at least, darker colours help to really make the most of this Range Rover’s design.

What’s it like inside?

Range Rover Velar
The interior is finished in high-end materials

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The Velar’s interior is finished with all manner of high-end materials, while much of the cabin seems to have been designed around comfort and accessibility. The seats in our test car, for instance, were wide and extremely comfortable, which will no doubt appeal to those drivers who spend long journeys behind the wheel.

There’s also loads of space, with those sitting in the back treated to plenty of head and legroom. At 632 litres, the Velar’s boot is also well-sized and is easy to access, though the load lip is relatively high. Plus, if you fold the rear seats down this space extends up to an impressive 1,690 litres.

What’s the spec like?

Range Rover Velar
The Velar offers a large boot

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All Velar models come with plenty of standard equipment, but the real talking point here is the new Pivi system. This combines two 10-inch screens, with the upper one controlling media and navigation functions and the lower one accessing heating controls. It’s not the largest screen setup we’ve seen – and doesn’t improve much in terms of size over the previous generation of Velar – but the system is far quicker and easier to use than before.

There are also interesting part-digital dials ahead of the driver. With their semi-analogue nature they actually seem a little old-school in today’s world of ultra-sharp displays, but they’re refreshingly clear to read.

Verdict

It did, on occasions, feel like the Velar could get a little lost in the Range Rover line-up. However, it has proved to be a popular option and this update will only extend that positive reception, with the boost in efficiency being a real plus point.

Add into this the Velar’s solid cabin and refined driving experience and you have a premium SUV that really does deliver on that high-end promise. This diesel version might not be the pick for drivers doing shorter trips, too, but for big-distance drivers it’ll no doubt be the best option available.

  • Model: Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic S
  • Base price: £60,255
  • Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel
  • Power: 296bhp
  • Torque: 650Nm
  • Max speed: 143mph
  • 0-60mph: 6.1
  • Economy: 38.2 - 35.3
  • Emissions: 194 - 209

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