Range Rover Velar Review
The Range Rover Velar bridges the gap between the smaller Evoque and larger Range Rover Sport. It’s good on and off road and comes with lots of high-tech kit, but is also pricey versus alternatives.
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Think of the Range Rover Velar as the SUV equivalent of technical trail-running gear, versus the wax jacket Land Rovers of old. The Velar will still go further off-road than its alternatives but will look better doing it too.
There’s certainly no question that the Velar has more visual presence than the likes of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, and inside it almost matches the elegance of the Mercedes GLC.
Even entry-level cars come with a clever dual-screen infotainment system that should impress you and passengers alike, while mid-spec SEs also get a digital driver’s display. This replaces the normal speedo and rev-counter dials and is a bit like the Audi Q5’s Virtual Cockpit.
Unfortunately, the Range Rover Velar’s controls aren’t as intuitive as the Audi’s and it doesn’t feel quite as well built. The big kicker is that you don’t even get satellite-navigation as standard in entry-level cars, which is a bit mean on a car costing more than £45,000.
Passengers will find getting comfy in the Velar a pretty easy task, particularly in the front. Those the rear won’t have major complaints, but if you want to carry three adults back there then a Mercedes GLC is a better bet. The small rear windows mean the Range Rover Velar can feel a little dark in the back for example. Thankfully, fitting a child seat is dead easy.
With a 558-litre boot, the Velar is well up to taking all the stuff that family life demands, and there are plenty of handy hooks and tether points dotted around for securing smaller items. You can press a button to lower the back to make getting heavier items in and out that bit easier.
The back seats can be dropped in a three-way (40:20:40) split. This means you can carry a couple of passengers and some long luggage at the same time. Drop all three seats down – easily done from the back of the car thanks to the handy levers in the boot – and you’ll open up a 1,731-litre load bay that will easily hold a bicycle with both wheels attached.
The Velar name comes from the very first Range Rover prototypes, but there is nothing old-fashioned about this modern car with its stunning looks and tonnes of high-tech features.
The Range Rover Velar comes with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines, plus a petrol-powered plug-in hybrid. If you are doing lots of town driving then go for one of the smaller petrols. They’re quieter than the small diesels and will return around 30mpg in real-world conditions.
If you’re planning on spending more time on the motorway then one of the big diesels are worth considering. They are easily quick enough to keep up with fast-moving traffic and returns around 32mpg, which is not too far shy of its official top economy of 38mpg.
If your Velar is a company car, the P400e plug-in hybrid is a great choice, because it has emissions as low as 50g/km, with a Benefit-in-Kind percentage as low as 10%. Basically that means cheap company car tax. It’ll also be exceptionally economical as long as you use it as intended by charging it up at every opportunity.
To ensure your Velar is as comfy as possible then the optional air suspension will really help soften jarring bumps in the road, but it’s only available as part of an optional pack and you can’t get it on the entry-level engines. The Velar’s huge door mirrors will disturb the peace a little bit as they kick up a fair amount of wind noise as well as creating blind spots.
Despite that, the Range Rover Velar should be a safe place for you and your family – it picked up five stars in the Euro NCAP test in 2017 and all models come with automatic emergency braking that’ll brake the car for you if it senses an obstacle ahead.
That sort of standard-fit technology is a big part of the Velar’s appeal, and it’s well worth a look if you want a premium SUV that comes with plenty of high tech gadgets, even though it does slightly favour style over outright passenger space.
Head over to our Range Rover Velar deals page for the very best prices.
The Range Rover Velar has plenty of room up front and there’s space in the back for three adults – even if alternatives have more rear seat footroom – and the boot is huge and easy to load.
There’s absolutely loads of space in the front seats and the Range Rover Velar’s height makes climbing in a breeze. It’s easy to get comfortable as even entry-level cars get eight-way adjustable heated front seats while S models get improved 10-way adjustment and a memory function so that more than one person can get in and hit a button and have the seat move to their preferred position.
Unfortunately, lumbar support to help reduce backache on long journeys is only standard on high-spec Range Rover Velar HSE. It’ll cost you quite a bit to add on lesser trims as part of packs.
Thankfully, there’s a fair amount of space in the back. The Velar’s large doors make climbing in dead easy and there’s plenty of head and knee room for your six-foot-tall friends. The only frustrating bits are the front seat mounts – they cut into foot space for the passengers sat either side of the cabin.
The Velar’s wide cabin means there’s plenty of shoulder space for carrying three adults, but the one in the middle won’t be quite as comfy thanks to the harder, high-set seat and raised floor. A Mercedes GLC is better for carrying three. The Velar’s small rear windows can make its interior feel quite dark and dingy, too.
The wide-opening doors, raised seat bases and clearly marked Isofix anchor points mean fitting a child seat is easy, even a bulky rear-facing seat. You’ll just have to be careful not to lose the removable Isofix covers, however – best put them somewhere safe along with that TV remote control…
You can get a 1.5-litre bottle in the Range Rover Velar’s front door bins and the glovebox is a decent size too. There’s a shallow storage area under the folding front armrest for a few phones and two USB ports for keeping them charged.
You get two large cupholders in the central console (one behind the gear lever and a second under a glossy plastic lid) but there’s also a square slot just ahead of the front armrest that’s perfect for holding a large drinks carton.
The rear door bins are almost as big as the front ones and there are also a set of aeroplane-style folding seat pockets on the back of the front seats. All models come with a folding rear armrest, a pair of cupholders and a couple of USB ports. If you stump up for those rear infotainment screens you’ll also get a pair of HDMI video inputs tucked behind the armrest.
You’ll be able to cram 558 litres of luggage in the Range Rover Velar boot with all five seats in place – that’s more than the 550-litre Mercedes GLC, 550-litre Audi Q5 and 500-litre Porsche Macan. It’s easily big enough to carry two sets of golf clubs and there’s no annoying boot lip to lug things over. Its square shape makes it easy to pack things in, too.
The high ride height and tall boot opening mean you might struggle to lift very heavy items in, but thankfully all models with a 3.0-litre engine come with air suspension as standard that you can lower using a switch in the boot to make loading easier.
The full-size spare wheel (a bit of a rarity these days) takes up almost all the available underfloor storage, but the main luggage area comes with a few heavy-duty shopping hooks and tether points to stop smaller items flying around. There’s a 12V socket to plug in any vacuum cleaners or boot-bound gadgets too.
That isn’t enough space? The back seats fold down in a three-way (40:20:40) split so you can carry passengers and long luggage all at the same time. The outer two seats fold using levers in the boot but you’ll have to lean forwards to push the central seat down yourself.
Drop all those seats and you’ll be able to get 1,713 litres of stuff in the back of the Range Rover Velar. This makes it bigger than the 1,600-litre boots in the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC and easily big enough to carry a bike without removing its wheels.
The Velar might look sportier than a normal Range Rover but you get the same raised driving position and it’s just as awkward to manoeuvre around town.
As you’d hope from a Range Rover, the Velar comes with four-wheel drive. The only gearbox available is an eight-speed automatic, but you can choose from a range of two diesel and two petrol engines, plus a petrol plug-in hybrid.
The four-cylinder petrol models is the one to pick if you spend most time driving around town. This P250 is slightly smoother and a touch quieter than the diesels and will return approximately 30mpg in real-world conditions, which is not a million miles off the official figures of up to 30mpg and 29mpg. However, if you want a bit more pace, the 400hp 3.0-litre V6 is the way forward, although be prepared for more fuel stops.
There’s also a plug-in hybrid model, which pairs the 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and hybrid powertrain. Combined, these generate 404bhp, so the PHEV is rapid. You’ll need to charge it up every time you can to get anywhere close to the official economy figures.
If you do lots of motorway miles you’ll want to consider one of the diesel models. The four-cylinder D200 cars are frugal (they’ll return around 40mpg in normal driving conditions) but the smoother V6 D300 will both make lighter work of long journeys and returns a fair 32mpg.
The top-spec diesel is particularly smooth, quiet and works well with the eight-speed gearbox to make cruising along in the Range Rover Velar as relaxing as it gets. It’s faster than the four-cylinder diesel cars too – accelerating from 0-62mph takes just 6.5 seconds.
If you’re after blistering performance and acceleration from your stately SUV then there is also the P550 5.0-litre supercharged V8. It’s only available with the SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition and the official fuel economy is just 23mpg.
The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox slushes gears together nicely when you’re pottering around town. It’s reasonably responsive when you put your foot down, too – if not quite as quick-witted as the X3’s eight-speed auto.
The Range Rover Velar has a similar raised seating position to the Range Rover Sport but it feels slightly sportier inside, thanks in part to the slanted windscreen. Unfortunately, the thick pillars (where the front doors meet the windscreen) and small rear windows can make it tricky to see out, which makes threading through tight city streets or squeezing into narrow parking spaces.
Thankfully, you get rear parking sensors as standard on all models, while SE and HSE cars get a 360-degree surround view camera system to help you avoid scuffed bumpers and kerbed alloy wheels.
The standard suspension that you get on the four-cylinder Range Rover Velar models does a decent job of softening bumps in the road, but if you go for the V6 models then you get air suspension, which is much more comfortable. It also helps keeps the Velar stable at motorway speeds and stops it leaning too much in tight corners.
It’s good enough to warrant the extra it costs to spec it as an option on the four-cylinder cars, too, and it makes the Velar just as relaxing to drive as the Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5.
The huge door mirrors kick up a fair amount of wind noise at speed, but tyre noise is mostly muted, even if you go for the biggest 21-inch alloys.
The V6 models get a selection of driving modes to help the Velar cope with occasional off-roading – they raise the ride height to protect the underneath. It’s not as much of an off-roader as the Land Rover Discovery, but it does get it like a special low-speed cruise control system to help you get down muddy tracks carefully.
The Range Rover Velar did pretty well in the Euro NCAP crash test, getting five stars overall. The automatic emergency braking system you get as standard on HSE cars (which stops the car for you if it senses an obstacle ahead) helps make it one of the safest SUVs out there.
All models come with adaptive cruise control as standard (that’ll follow other cars at a safe distance then return to a preset speed when the road’s clear) that’s ideal if your commute regularly sees you dealing with low-speed motorway traffic.
Every Range Rover Velar also gets lane-departure warning as standard and there’s an optional Driver Assist pack with traffic sign recognition, blindspot monitoring and driver tiredness detection available for extra – well worth considering if you’re a high-mileage driver.
The interior has loads of high-tech and luxurious kit, so long as you avoid the entry-level versions. The infotainment systems look particularly cool, but aren’t the easiest to use.