The longer you stare at it, the more you appreciate its timelessness. The Velar’s beauty lies not in its starkness but in its abundance of simplicity. And simple is always harder to do, as we have seen from countless products in the consumer appliances and electronics space. Apple, Smeg, B&O and safe to say, Range Rover are amongst the scions of simple elegance.
Range Rover Velar review
The less is more poster boy
As is the norm, Range Rover has taken the necessary measures to make the Velar look updated by slimming down the headlights to Pixel LED greatness, revised grille motif with larger air dams and newer elements in the tail light LEDs too. 20in wheels fill out the wheel arches and make the side profile unmistakable and you guessed it…timeless. The pulled-back squinty headlights, steeply-raked A-pillar, flush door handles and integrated roof spoiler make this one of the slinkiest-looking things on the road.
But step into the eventful cabin and things get even more simplistic. The button count has been slashed like your salary after taxes and you’ll struggle to find any remnants of the good ol’ clicky days. Just a P (parking) button near the gear selector lever and the engine start/stop button is all you’ll find on the dashboard and centre console! Everything, including the Terrain Response 2 drive selector has been moved to the 11.4in Pivi Pro infotainment system. Designed to get to most functions in two taps or less, it’s still one tap too many when you’re on the move and just want to reduce fan speed by a notch. If you want to dig deeper into the air-purification system and switch on the Ionizer, you might want to pull over. It takes four taps, assuming you’re driving on a poker-straight road with the surface of a baby’s bottom.
To be fair though, AC controls and volume controls always appear on the edges, no matter where you are in the extensive maze of features. The massaging seats also offer cooling and heating functionality and are one of the best in the business. In fact, the 20-way electric adjustment allows you to get such a comfortable driving position that you tend to forget that you’re driving a full-sized SUV in no time. It simply wraps around you like a hatchback, but a very quiet and luxurious one.
The feature list is long and extensive, from wireless charging and wireless Apple CarPlay to a 12-speaker Meridian sound system, 360-dgeree surround-view cam with ClearSight Ground view that gives you eyes directly under the bonnet for off-road safety and a huge (but fixed) panoramic sunroof. Of course, with Land Rover DNA, it comes with permanent 4WD with different traction modes for various terrains, suspension lift feature for water wading and even a Dynamic mode should you just wish to cruise down the expressway.
Navigating the Pivi Pro system isn’t the fastest way of getting around to your desired feature set, but the graphics are nice with a crisp camera resolution. You get a lot of off-roading oriented data should you wish to pursue a degree in physics, but for the more fruity kinds, there is a display to depict how eco-friendly your driving style is.
Taking refinement to a whole new level, the Velar in D200 diesel guise is simply breathtaking in its smoothness. No gravelly rasp inside the cabin, no sensation of vibrations and a smooth linear power delivery to 5500rpm. Yes, you could open the bubbly in the back and recline the electrically operated seats and let the chauffeur have all the fun. It’s a calm and serene ride, while not as plush as the big brother Rover, but better than most of the German competition that still feels stiffer in comparison. There’s no lack of grunt with this engine that makes 200hp/400Nm but you will find that it takes a moment to wake up from a standstill.
The diesel is tuned for refinement so hustling it exposes a slow gearbox and turbo lag from standstill. The Velar is best driven as a sophisticated luxo barge and not a dragster at the stop lights. There are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, but leave the transmission in D and drive mode to Comfort for everyday city use and you’ll never need another car again.
Cabin insulation is superb and you’ll be hard pressed to tell whether you’re driving a diesel or petrol from behind the wheel and seats are tailor made for long journeys with just the right amount of firmness. The 400W Meridian sound system is acceptable but certainly not class-leading as it lacks the bass accuracy and definition that some options from the competition provides. The Pivi Pro system also takes a quarter of a second longer to react than other modern systems we’re getting used to.
The digital driver display is clean, intuitive and devoid of complications. It can be customised to show full screen native maps or be split up into two or even three sections, maximising screen real estate. Maps, speedometer and media info can be shown at once, for example.
The mild aesthetic modifications on the exterior conceal a radical new interior that is as reductionist as we have ever seen. Paired with the open pore wood veneer, deep garnet upholstery, rose-tinted chrome and the microfibre-clad gear selector, it exudes a quality feeling the moment you sit inside and make contact with all the touch points. The Velar has always been a good-looking SUV and with these updates, it only cements itself as the purveyor of quiet luxury.
Comfortable cabin, luxurious ride and smashing looks make the lack of buttons and resulting hit in practicality the only fly in this rich ointment.
|Engine:||2.0L 4cyl turbo-diesel|
|Acceleration:||0-100 in 8.3 secs|
|Max wading depth:||580mm|