Land Rover Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic HSE
The Range Rover Velar is a magnificent-looking car, with jaw-dropping exterior styling and a cabin that blends innovative gadgetry and high-quality materials. There are several engines to choose from, but the D300 is one that stands out; with power, refinement and, surprisingly, efficiency too. Big wheels somewhat hinder the ride, and the Velar is rather expensive, but that doesn’t stop you loving it. Nor does it stop you wanting one.
I’ll admit that I found it hard to see the gap in the market Land Rover envisaged when slotting the Velar in between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport.
But I’m glad that they did. Because this is, unquestionably, the best-looking Land Rover to date. And this particular car in sporty R-Dynamic guise, top HSE specification and in marvellous Firenze Red hammers that point home.
The front end is big and broad, but there are no sharp lines; opting for a sleeker, smoother approach. Signature LED daytime running lights make the Velar immediately recognisable as a Range Rover. Big air vents in the corner of the bumpers, with copper accents, add a flourish of sportiness.
The Velar’s best feature are the door handles, which retract when not needed. This stroke of genius gives as much of a wow factor as it does a clean side profile.
The two-tone 21-inch alloy wheels featured on my test car look fantastic. They have a negative effect on ride quality, but from a style point of view there can be no complaints.
Impressively for what is actually a very large car, the proportions on the Range Rover Velar are spot on, with a slim window line that tapers gradually from front to back. Gloss black features down the side profile are a great contrast to the red paint.
At the back the Velar has a ‘pinched’ design, with its rear bumper angled upwards somewhat steeply. The exhausts therefore sit much higher than you’d think. It not only gives a more compact feel, but is advantageous to approach angles when off-roading.
Further gloss black trim completes the exterior package, and it’s one you have to admire. The Range Rover Velar almost looks like a concept car, and that’s significant praise.
The cabin is equally magnificent, containing high-end materials that are stylishly laid-out. When opening the door to a Range Rover you expect to be wowed, and in that respect the Velar is on the money.
You’ll notice the rather nice Union Jack pattern on the seats and speakers. It’s a justified inclusion too: JLR may be owned by Indian company Tata Motors, but the Velar is built exclusively in the West Midlands, at JLR’s Solihull plant.
At the centre of the cabin is a new dual-touchscreen system. The top screen is home to media, navigation and telephone systems. Climate controls, seat controls and vehicle drive modes can be found on the bottom screen.
Higher-spec models also feature a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster which can be customised to show dials, a map, media information, trip information, or a combination of the above.
Even the steering wheel buttons are capacitive, changing their appearance depending on the function required. So unusually for a car loaded with tech, the Range Rover Velar has very few physical buttons.
That makes the interior clean and uncluttered. In turn, that gives you the time to sit back and admire the ambiance of the cabin.
At the heart, the Windsor leather seats are about as soft and sumptuous as seats can be. Individual armrests for the front seats ensure for the utmost comfort.
And there are so many different textures in the Velar; with leather, smooth glossy plastics, soft-touch bumpy upper dashboard and aluminium flourishes. You find yourself running your hands over it all in admiration. There is no doubt that the driving seat of a Range Rover Velar is a nice place to be.
The engine availability in the Velar is comprehensive to say the least: ranging from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel D180 with 180PS up to a rip-snorting 5.0-litre supercharged V8 with 550PS, with a host of petrol and diesel options in between.
My test car was somewhere in the middle: a D300. That’s a 3.0-litre V6 diesel offering 300PS and whopping 700Nm of torque.
Shove your right foot into the carpet and this sizeable car will sprint from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, and go on to a top speed of 150mph.
But it’s the mountain of torque that makes this particular Velar so quick. In-gear acceleration is mind-boggling, and overtaking on the motorway is effortless.
There’s a lot to be said for the engine being a V6 too. First and foremost, it is of a refinement level that is to be expected on a £70,000 SUV. There is absolutely no rattle from under the bonnet no matter how hard you push it, and that brings a luxurious drive to the luxurious Velar.
For the most part, you’ll struggle to hear the engine at all. For such a big, powerful unit it is remarkably unobtrusive. But when getting a bit throttle-happy, you can hear the faint essence of a V6 howl under the bonnet. And there’s nothing to dislike about that.
Sure, the D300 is among the more expensive engine choices in the Range Rover Velar. But it gives a powerful drive to equal its big presence. In fact, the longer you spend behind the wheel of the Velar D300, you can soon forget this is a 2-tonne SUV…
Until, that is, you need to stamp on the brakes with force. All of a sudden, you feel like the Titanic heading towards the iceberg; waiting, hoping that this leviathan will come to a stop.
Frankly with such a powerful engine the Velar D300 needs more powerful brakes. That’s my first of only three niggles with this car.
The second is that on 21-inch alloy wheels the ride isn’t particularly fitting of a Range Rover. The wheels may look great on the outside, but they also seek out every lump and bump, sending them directly to the base of your spine.
Even the brilliant air suspension can’t prevent this. In ‘Comfort’ mode, it’s noticeable but bearable. In ‘Dynamic’ mode it’s downright unpleasant.
Thankfully this seems to be an easy fix. I haven’t driven a Velar with smaller wheels, but I have to think it would be better. You can have alloys as small as 18’s, but they look decidedly rubbish. 20’s would probably be the best bet.
The steering setup on the Velar is perfectly balanced: direct enough to give a sporty feel and engaging drive, but not so much that it detracts from being a comfortable and relaxing cruiser.
The Velar gets a full air suspension setup that aids ride and practicality in equal measures. It is a tried-and-tested setup to make a Range Rover waft along on the motorway with little drama.
But in Dynamic mode the car can hunker down, lowering the ride height and minimising body roll in the corners. It really works – making the Velar a much more composed and competent car to drive when you do so in a spirited fashion.
Despite having a sizeable, powerful engine, the Velar D300 is more economical than you might expect.
On the WLTP combined cycle, it achieved 34.7mpg. That may not seem like a lot, but do remember this is a 2-tonne SUV that can accelerate with the same gusto as most hot hatches.
Sure, a D180 may be more frugal, but at the expense of power. For some people that may not matter an iota, but for me an executive car like the Range Rover Velar should be capable of effortless progression.
CO2 emissions are an NEDC-equivalent 169g/km. First year VED is £530, and £145 thereafter. Well, not quite £145. As a car above £40,000 the Velar falls foul of the VED surcharge, adding an additional £320 in years two through six of ownership.
Economy-boosting technology is the reason for the Velar’s surprising economy. The 8-speed automatic gearbox has enough ratios to make sure the engine needn’t work unnecessarily hard.
The Eco drive programme backs off throttle response, sets the ride height to minimise resistance and encourages the gearbox to upshift early. Start/stop technology is standard, cutting the engine to save fuel in traffic.
This means that the Velar is not only comfortable on a long-haul motorway drive, but good on fuel too. On more gentle drives we saw figures in excess of the quoted economy figure, even nudging 40mpg at one point. All things considered, we’d be happy with that.
When it comes to practicality, the Range Rover Velar is more than holds its own in a segment where space and usability is expected to be a strong point.
Boot space is 513 litres with the rear seats up, expanding to a rather cavernous 1,250 litres with them down. Despite the tapered rear end, the load area remains sizeable and easily accessed. There is a much wider opening at the bottom of the tailgate, certainly enough to pass the flat-pack furniture test.
Cabin space is equally substantial, with ample leg and headroom all round. If you stick to using the outer rear seats only, taking advantage of the centre armrest, travelling in the back is properly luxurious.
There’s even a button to electrically recline the backrests. Don’t expect to be horizontal, as the range of movement is akin to most airlines would offer in cattle-class, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
Because the Velar is quite skinny at the top, you can sometimes forget how big it actually is. A trip to the supermarket car park will soon remind you though.
Don’t get me wrong; parking the Velar isn’t actually an issue, thanks to a great turning circle and reversing camera. But you may find it a tight squeeze to open the large doors enough to step out.
Forget supermarkets though, because in a Velar you can go far, far outside of town. With the usual Land Rover off-road kit and caboodle, this is a vastly capable car.
The air suspension goes from access height, allowing you to get in and out with ease, to off-road height to provide ground clearance on even the deepest ruts. I dare say the vast majority of Velars will never face such a test, but it’s nice to know they could cope.
There are two ‘basic’ versions of this car: the Range Rover Velar and the Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic. The R-Dynamic has a sportier appearance, with black and copper detailing on the exterior, aluminium flourishes in the cabin and a black headlining.
Each of these two versions then has three further grades: S, SE and HSE. But it has to be said that the standard equipment level is good.
The deployable door handles are a standard feature, as are front and rear LED lights with auto light function. You also get keyless entry and go, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror, ambient interior lighting and two-zone climate control. The heated front seats are widely adjustable, albeit manually.
All models get the brilliant Touch Pro Duo centre console. As standard, the instrument cluster is an analogue setup with central TFT display. Standard connectivity comprises Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth.
On the driver assistance front you get front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera, cruise control with speed limiter and, frankly, too many assistance systems to list; such as hill descent control, gradient release control and roll stability control…
Safety is covered too, with driver condition monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, seat belt reminder and emergency stop signal.
S grade adds premium LED lights, auto-dimming, power-folding door mirrors with puddle lights, 14-way electric front seats with driver memory, an 11-speaker Meridian sound system and Navigation Pro.
SE adds matrix LED heaflights, a powered gesture tailgate, a Meridian 17-speaker sound system and fully-digital instrument cluster.
HSE models get 20-way adjustable front seats with heat, cool and massage function. They also get a full 360-degree parking aid, park assist and rear traffic monitor. Safety equipment is bolstered by blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control and high-speed emergency braking.
Value For Money
The final section of this review brings my final niggle with the Range Rover Velar: price. With such a broad range of engines and trims, comes a broad price range.
A basic (if you can call any Velar ‘basic’) D180 starts from £45,260, going right up to £86,685 for the range-topping 5.0-litre SV Autobiography Dynamic Edition.
The D300 R-Dynamic HSE tested here starts at £68,280. And that’s before we come to the options list which, if you don’t show restraint, can end up adding many thousands of pounds to the cost of your Velar.
My test car had been shown a little restraint. Its option list comprised Firenze Red paint (£725), 21-inch alloy wheels (£800), a fixed panoramic roof (£1,315), privacy glass (£400), Argento pinstripe veneer (£80) and configurable dynamics (£230). That brought the price as tested to £71,830.
There’s no escaping the reality that the Range Rover Velar is expensive. Yet somehow it doesn’t matter. Because after spending a week with one I was completely sold, and would happily own one in an instant.
Its jaw-dropping style pulls you in. Its masterpiece of a cabin keeps you interested, and a choice of brilliant engines seals the deal. Ultimately the heart wants what the heart wants, even if that means £70,000.
Facts and Figures
|Engine||3.0-litre, V6 turbocharged diesel|
|Max power||300PS at 4,000rpm|
|Max torque||265Nm at 1,500rpm|
|Drivetrain||8-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||60 litres|
|Fuel consumption||34.7 mpg combined, WLTP|
|CO2 emissions||169 g/km NEDC equivalent|
|Towing capacity||2,500kg braked / 750kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||513 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£71,520|