By: Mike Ginsca
So the Evoque is too small but the Range Rover Sport is too big for you. What do you do? Land Rover is thinking of you because the Velar nicely slots in between the two models. It is more spacious than the Evoque but it doesn’t feel like an off-road 4×4 like the Sport.
Engine – Two engines are available on the Velar but under the hood of this one is a 3.0L supercharged V6. It’s capable of producing 380 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. While on paper it may seem like enough power for this size of SUV, the Velar tips the scales at over 4,600 lbs. That’s just 150 lbs less than it’s bigger brother the Range Rover Sport and that comes with a V8. But if sportyness is now what you’re after, then the Range Rover Velar with this supercharged V6 is enough for your needs. But don’t expect to go past many gas stations as it is a very thirsty engine. During my week long test, the best I managed on a combined run was 15.0 L/100km.
Transmission – The 8-speed automatic is typical Land Rover. Smooth shifting whether the oil is cold or warm and quick to respond to stabs of the throttle pedal. The rising gear selector is also something that appeals to the inner 9-year old in all of us.
Brakes – Stopping a 4,600 lb SUV is no easy task but while the brakes may appear small compared to the large wheels, they do a good enough job of bringing the heavy SUV to a stop.
Handling – This is not a Sports SUV. It will not win a handling contest with the likes of the BMW X5M or Porsche Cayenne. But it does feel composed around corners and it doesn’t roll excessively from side to side. With the air suspension option, this R-Dynamic Velar can also be customizable in how stiff or soft you want the suspension to be or how responsive the engine is through a menu in the top screen (more on that later). Overall it’s driving characteristics slot it right where it should be. Between the softer Evoque and the sportier Range Rover Sport.
Ride Comfort – As mentioned earlier, this particular Range Rover Velar came equipped with adjustable air suspension which even in it’s stiffest setting, still offered a plush ride. It doesn’t glide over bumps but it’s not a jarring ride either. The seats provide good support and (on this model at least) come with a massaging feature. Front occupants have plenty of space as do occupants in the rear seats.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The Velar is a relatively quiet vehicle. Going 100 km/h on the highway feels like you’re going more slowly than you actually are. Only during more spirited drives does the engine noise intrude into the cabin. Squeaks and rattles of Land Rovers of the past are non-existent in the Velar. Everything feels well put together.
Interior Design – This is where the Range Rover Velar shines above it’s competition. The design is contemporary and elegant. Not only does it have premium materials but the abundance of screens makes it feel like Range Rover is in tune with the touchscreen craze that we’re in right now. The top screen in the center tilts as the engine turns on while the gear selector rises to let you select P, R, N, D. Even though everything is black, including the headliner, the panoramic sunroof and the brightness from the multiple screens strangely doesn’t make the Velar cabin feel claustrophobic.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Like many other manufacturers these days, the Velar is packed with the latest tech. Automated braking, lane keeping aid, and semi-autonomous driving are available on the Velar. Albeit all of these gadgets do add on to the price of the Velar. The Velar starts at $62,000 but this one with almost every option available, breaks the bank at over $90,000. But if you have the money, a lot of the features are worth it. Especially the semi-autonomous system that can keep you in your lane and even come to a complete stop. Very useful feature in stop & go rush hour traffic. Coupled with the massaging seats, it makes for a very relaxing drive.
Exterior Design – In pictures, the Velar looks as big as the Range Rover Sport. But in real life, it’s a slim SUV. It’s not much bigger than most other 5 passenger SUVs in terms of exterior dimensions. The design is just as contemporary as the interior. It stands out in the crowded SUV market like no other. This particular test vehicle also has the Black exterior option which does away with the standard copper accents in the grille. All in all the Velar is probably the best looking luxury SUV on the market today.
It’s easy to get drawn in by the beauty of the Range Rover Velar both inside and out. But it is very expensive once you start to add on the packages and options. Furthermore, its weight not only hampers its performance, but it will also leave your wallet empty at the gas pumps. Despite that though, it’s beauty and luxury has just enough pull to keep me drawn into it.
Thank you to Land Rover Canada for providing the vehicle. www.LandRover.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.