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Range Rover Velar 2019 long-term review

Autocar logo Autocar 21/06/2019 Mark Tisshaw
a car driving down a dirt road: Range Rover Velar 2019 long-term review © Autocar Range Rover Velar 2019 long-term review

Why we’re running it: To see if this newest twist on the Range Rover formula is worthy of the badge – and its price 

Month 1 - Specs

a car parked on the side of a road © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

Life with a Range Rover Velar: Month 1

Go in with an open mind - 12th June 2019

I’ve got this nagging sense about the Velar that people don’t want to like it. That it’s too flash, too expensive. So they don’t approach it with an open mind and come loaded with negative preconceptions. But whatever you think of it, the Velar is a fantastically designed and desirable product with real innovation born right here in the UK. It deserves an open mind. 

Mileage: 14,111

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Racking up 3000 miles in a couple of weeks, including a family road trip to St Ives​ - 5th June 2019

Cornwall: first stop for our new Range Rover Velar. Barely five minutes after it had arrived, photographer Jed Leicester took away his family in it to the south-west for a bank holiday break and instantly put the Velar under the strain of a fully loaded family road trip.

So speedy was Jed to grab the keys that he even beat me to any kind of meaningful drive. Jed’s big journey south plus the few cross-country drives on business that I’ve done since to get my own first impressions mean that the mileage figure is already 3000 up from when we took delivery (with 10,000 already on the odometer, remember) in just a couple of weeks.

That allows those first impressions to be a bit deeper and more varied than normal. The odometer’s rapid rise is also a good indicator of a car that people really want to get to know.

a car parked next to a body of water © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

Jed’s drive was far more visually interesting than any of mine and took him to deepest St Ives. But having a wife and two kids and not being a hardened road tester meant his eye for looking at the car was different from mine, and his top-line report (“very nice, comfortable and luxurious”) invited further digging.

Interestingly, the first thing he went into detail about was the parcel shelf. “Breathe on it, and it springs open,” he told me. He’s right: the shelf is actually a retractable cover on a roller wheel and it’s somewhat on the ‘springy’ side. Yes, the car isn’t a Discovery and thus doesn’t have ultimate versatility in mind, but you do expect better from a £70k-plus car.

Yet beyond that, the Velar went down very well with the Leicesters. Jed loved the seats, and the fabric in particular. “I was a big fan of the seat design and cloth used,” he told me. “I assumed that leather would be the go-to fabric, but the suede (or whatever it was) was mega.” It is, to quote the spec sheet, Premium textile seats with wool blend and Suedecloth, a £620 option, and one well worth having.

The luxurious fabric has a real Scandi-cool vibe to it and makes the Velar feel far more contemporary and individual from the samey black leather cabins of its German rivals. It’s a real selling point and key differentiator of the car.

The fabric has practical benefits, too. “It helps you stick to the seat instead of sliding around on slippery shiny stuff,” said our family man about the seats front and rear. It’s actually the rear seats of the Velar from which I write this very story, by the side of a road (the glamour…). Back here, the luxurious ambience continues and there’s more space than you’d perhaps expect from the sleek exterior styling. I’m 5ft 10in and it’s fine for head and leg room, and the sloping roofline and narrow glasshouse don’t make it feel cramped.

a pile of luggage sitting on top of a car © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

Yet when behind the wheel, you never forget it is a big car. “It’s not necessarily the car you’d choose to take down the narrow cobbled streets of St Ives,” said Jed, whose experiences tally with my own. So although it is a big car, it can become easy enough to place once you learn its extremities. But as I mentioned in its first report, it’s still a harder car to place than the larger Range Rover/Range Rover Sport because the driving position is lower and further back and you’re not as obviously aware of where the car’s four corners are.

Jed was impressed with the economy and range, too. On longer journeys, you can nudge towards 40mpg and the big, 60-litre fuel tank means you’re never wondering too much about where the next fuel station is. Only one fill-up was needed from south-west London to St Ives (not needing to stop to meet a man with seven wives) before pootling around Cornwall for some day trips, and then back, one done with an eighth of a tank left and costing Jed just £60.

So while the Velar is certainly an expensive car to buy, at least it’s not a ruinously expensive one to keep moving.

Love it:

V6 engine There’s a smooth, easy-going nature to the V6 diesel powertrain that’s not as laboured in its performance as four-pot Velars

Loathe it:

Infotainment glitches Lots of bugs already have required a few turn offs and on again. Feels like we’ve been here before with JLR’s infotainment system.

Mileage: 13,490

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Welcoming the Velar to the fleet - 23rd May 2018

Is it really two years old already? Because the Range Rover Velar, still a concept car made good for the road to my eyes, certainly doesn’t look it.

However great the many challenges it faces are, let’s not forget that Jaguar Land Rover still makes plenty of cars of huge desirability, few more so than those wearing a Range Rover badge.

We know plenty of the larger Range Rover and Range Rover Sport cars that continue to age gracefully and grow in popularity after the addition of plug-in hybrid drivetrains last year, and the recent Evoque replacement that has conquered all before it in double-quick time on this website.

But the Velar is the sibling we’ve had the least experience with. These next few months are all about redressing that and really getting to know Range Rover’s middle child.

a car parked on the side of a road © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

We say ‘know least about’, but it’s still a relative term. The Velar has been through an Autocar road test, in 2017, and was awarded three and a half stars. The asking price and the quality of the car and componentry offered in return was the most limiting factor for a luxury SUV powered by a four-cylinder engine.

The Velar we’ve got on test right now is a 296bhp V6 diesel, which always felt a more natural companion for a car with premium, Range Rover-like aspirations, even if that price still induces a sharp intake of breath. The £68,110 sticker on our top-spec HSE model before options will find you mid-range, six-cylinder examples of the Audi Q8, BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE with change in your pocket – cars you’d consider more natural rivals for the Velar’s Range Rover Sport big brother.

So this is the chance for the Velar – still a car of huge desirability and notable features, remember – to really prove its worth.

The Velar has made a steady start to life. In its first full year of sales in the UK, some 13,000 found homes. That’s impressive, if not quite the 20,000 Land Rover had planned at its reveal in spring 2017, before falling demand for diesel and a depleted car market in general thwarted those ambitions.

Intriguingly, though, that’s only ever so slightly more sales than the larger and more expensive Sport, a car that still feels like such a sweet spot in the Range Rover line-up and now very much flavour of the month with the aforementioned plug-in hybrid powertrain.

While the full-size Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are closely related, the Velar’s DNA is more closely shared with Jaguar models. It’s a sister car to the F-Pace, in a natively rear-drive aluminium architecture that’s also found on the XE and XF saloons.

That means there’s no hardcore off-road running gear, the Velar instead using a conventional four-wheel-drive system. The 3.0-litre V6 is hooked up to an eight-speed automatic, and while there’s no low-speed ’box, the Velar should still go further than most of its peers off road with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and other electronic trickery.

It’s unashamedly the most car-based model Land Rover has yet made, then – something that’s evident not only in its technical makeup but also its long, low, sleek styling and low-slung driving position.

a close up of a car © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

That’s the first thing that strikes you about the Velar when you first sit in it: just how enveloped you are in the cabin with everything wrapped around you – the glasshouse is slim, the bonnet long and the seat far back. That’s a real departure from the Range Rover norm, where you typically have an imperious, perched view of the road ahead and a view of each of the car’s four corners, however large it is.

In that cabin you can also admire the Velar’s other party pieces: the interior design, material use, technology and perceived quality. While the dual-screen layout has already made its way down to the Evoque, there remains a wow factor about this cabin and its modernity, something only enhanced by the absence of leather and the use of luxurious fabrics instead.

This being the range-topping HSE, all that comes at a cost, though. That the price tag starts with a six (well, a seven by the time you add up the options on our year-old, 10,000-mile test car) is intriguing in itself.

When Land Rover was busy showing us the Velar at its launch two years ago, it had plenty of charts to illustrate that as most buyers spent £40,000 on an Evoque and £80,000 on a Sport, there was a large hole in the middle where people wanting to spend £60,000 on a Range Rover couldn’t do so.

Lower down the line-up you find JLR’s four-cylinder Ingenium petrol and diesel engines in various states of tune, before you get to this V6. It was the range-topper of the entire Velar line-up until the recent announcement of the SVAutobiography model, complete with JLR’s magnificent 542bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8.

You can have the HSE trim even on the entry-level four-cylinder 178bhp diesel model – a £58,000 car itself – which shows that Land Rover perhaps considers the Velar’s appeal to be in its materials and design as much as its technology. While it is possible to get a Velar for less than £45,000, that’s still almost £10,000 more than the cheapest F-Pace.

a piece of luggage sitting on top of a suitcase © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

So there’s no getting away from the fact that the Velar is an expensive car among its peers, yet Land Rover would argue a Range Rover will always look to command a premium. Whether it can or not is just one of so many stories and sub-plots to explore in our Velar over the next few months. Bring it on.

Second Opinion

The Velar’s styling marked a new era for Range Rover – and, based on its sleek, grown-up looks, I wouldn’t be surprised if it attracts a new generation of buyers, too. It’s intended to sit between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport but, given its expense, I’m interested to see whether the Velar is a more appealing option to own overall than the original footballer’s car. 

Rachel Burgess

Land Rover Range Rover Velar HSE D300 specification

Specs: Price New £68,110 Price as tested £73,295 Options  Byron Blue metallic paint £725, Privacy glass £390, Fixed panoramic roof £1115, 21in 10-spoke gloss black finish wheels £830, Electrically deployable towbar £985, Black pack £520, Premium textile seats £620

Test Data: Engine V6, 2993cc, turbocharged diesel Power 295bhp Torque 516lb ft Kerb weight 2029kg Top speed 150mph 0-62mph 6.3sec Fuel economy 34.7-38.0mpg CO2 No WLTP figure Faults None Expenses None

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Gallery: Serious off-roaders for every budget [Read Cars]


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