Range Rover Velar – long-term test: is it a matter of form over function?
The eagerly anticipated Velar is undoubtedly one of the most stylish SUVs on sale, but how does it measure up as day-to-day family transport?
December 12th, 2017
After the diminutive Up went back to Volkswagen I was at a bit of a loss with what to replace it with. Land Rover stepped up with the offer of a Range Rover Velar for six weeks, so now there’s one of those sitting outside where the little orange city car used to be.
Yes, it’s something of a diversion from my original goal of running long-term cars that aren’t what you’d traditionally consider "family" cars. It’s only for a short time, however, and as I missed the Velar launch it’s the first chance I’ve had to sample this much-anticipated car, which is how I’ve justified it to myself.
I’m only doing what everyone with kids does, too, and putting them in an SUV. I’ll be back on the non-family car theme with my next car.
The original plan was to have an HSE D240 model with the 2.0-litre turbodiesel, but the day before it was due to be delivered someone reversed into it. The replacement Land Rover sent was a bit more extreme, being the range-topping Velar First Edition P380, that 380 referring to its hp output, achieved via a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. Seems I’m following the zeitgeist and dropping diesel, then, and as it’s just for a few weeks I’ll stomach the fuel bills.
And the price? A not insubstantial £85,450. As the man from Land Rover pointed out, this won’t be where the bulk of Velar sales are, in the UK at least. It’s high enough to be firmly among the upper-end models of its bigger Range Rover Sport relation, as well the full-sized Range Rover itself. Not to mention that I could have nearly six VW Ups for that amount.
It had better be impressive, then. First impressions are good though, not least the styling, which is properly knock-out. Yes, the optional 22-inch alloy wheels are a little bit overt for my tastes, but that’s easy enough to change. That said, I’d retain the size, as having seen a few Velars on smaller wheels it’s clear it needs the larger rims.
To justify that price this is a Velar that wants for nothing. Indeed, if I listed the spec here you’d need a day to read it all. All that makes for a super-luxurious car; the heated, massaging seats and heated steering wheel a bonus because a few days after the car arrived it snowed.
The timing of the weather couldn’t have been more serendipitous, even if I’m always quick to remind people that it doesn’t matter how many wheels are driven if there’s no traction. That said, a quick run in the snow to collect our Christmas tree proved the white stuff was no trouble for the Velar’s sophisticated four-wheel drive system. I can also confirm a 6ft tree fits in easily enough. It also managed to go out for take-away pizza when they couldn’t deliver – not exactly a proper 4×4 Response rescue that we see all the time when the weather’s bad, but my kids appreciated it.
That said, there were plenty other cars without four-wheel drive that still managed to get around. Being a silly car journalist, I switched the Terrain Response setting to Dynamic (rather than the grass and snow setting which would be more sensible in such circumstances) and enjoyed it slithering around with more power going to the back wheels.
We’ll see how it fares as the weather improves and it gets used on more normal day-to-day drives, like the school run, trips to the airport for me and more besides. My biggest worry is how the white perforated leather interior is going to work with crumb-creating children in the back seats, and the potential fuel bills, but other than that I’m sure it’ll work out just fine.
More long-term tests