Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 26, 2018
This is the new Velar, a five-seater SUV that carves out a fresh niche in the Range Rover portfolio, sitting in between the smaller Evoque and the larger Sport in both size and price. The Velar creates a happy medium in the roughly attainable $60,000 - $90,000 range, and shares its dimensions and architecture with the familial Jaguar F-Pace. To be honest I did not even know there was a niche to fill but Land Rover seems to have taken a page out of the BMW money making handbook and created one themselves.
I have to get this off my chest: the Velar has got to be the sexiest SUV of 2018, if not ever. Put those sleek curves next to a Lamborghini Urus or Bentley Bentayga and I would actually choose the Velar instead. The new aesthetic has such commanding road presence and not because it appears big, brash, and ostentatious, but because of its fresh new take on the Land Rover design language. The Velar gives off a more unisex appeal - I always thought the Evoque sat on the feminine side of the spectrum.
Even the door handles are new and deploy out like a Tesla’s (of note, these pop-out door handles have been infamously unreliable on the Tesla Model S, but here’s hoping JLR has perfected them via the Jaguar F-Type). When locked, they turtle back into the door panel for a flush look, aiding in aerodynamics. They go so far as to call it the most aerodynamic Range Rover ever, which is like saying Donald Trump is the most enthusiastic president on Twitter, ever.
The Velar appears graceful and chic, but with the addition of the R-Dynamic package and the Black Package, it looks downright sinister. R-Dynamic is a simple body kit that offers more aggressive looks in the form of a new front and rear bumper, and an integrated and more prominent exhaust tip. The Black Package ($670) on the other hand finishes all the exterior accents in Narvik Black. Look hard enough and the Velar’s rear lights will look like they are wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses. Can’t unsee that now, can ya?
Make your way inside the Velar and the first thing you will notice are the two beautifully sculpted 10-inch touchscreens taking up the center spotlight. The top screen, about the size of a Nintendo Switch, can tilt for a better viewing angle as well, and handles most of the infotainment and connectivity features. The bottom screen handles everything else, from the HVAC controls to the customizable driving modes.
Range Rover has also cleverly integrated circular dials that sit on top of the screen, so that the selectable graphics show up within its inner circumference - it is the first time I’ve seen something like that. Though redundant, the bottom screen can also display and adjust infotainment features. I’m just glad that they didn’t resort to transforming the volume dial into a touch capacitive slider like they have on Hondas and Cadillacs. They have also fixed the lag issue from prior models - the screen is now tolerably smooth, crisp, and responsive.
Visually, some drivers may find the cabin a little cramped, at least more than its bulky outer dimensions may suggest, but in reality it is actually quite roomy in the front and surprisingly in the back too. Usually in this segment, I have trouble sitting behind my six-foot self but in the Velar I have no issues. There is ample headroom as well, and even the trunk is a fair size. To my amusement, designers even incorporated their signature wide and flat window sill for drivers to comfortably rest their arms on - this was one of my favourite and defining features in the full-size Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery. In the Evoque and Sport, the sills are slanted inwards and aren’t very useful.
Some issues I have with the Velar include the miniature center glovebox, which will fit nothing more than some folded papers and a glasses case. There are three cupholders for front occupants, one hidden and opened via pressing the Land Rover logo, but two of them are incredibly shallow. For an SUV, the Velar lamentably lacks any usable front storage space. Range Rover has tinkered with the steering wheel as well, replacing the tactile buttons with glossy ones that still offer push feedback but with the addition of capacitive touch. This is neat and all but that just means I have to take my eye off the road to see what I am clicking, instead of simply feeling for the defined grooves. The start button is also awkwardly angled and hidden next to the center display, making it difficult to reach as you navigate your wrist past an asteroid field of the steering wheel, washer stalk, and screen. Lastly, only the back of the steering wheel rim heats up, and the massaging seats are more of a slight tickle than a therapeutic knurl.
Gripes may seem aplenty but they are mostly overshadowed by the Velar’s impressive powertrain. The Velar offers two engines: a 180-hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel and a 380-hp 3.0-litre supercharged V6 that has been used in everything from the Land Rover Discovery to the Jaguar F-Pace. I tested the V6 model, codenamed the P380, and though it was not mind-bendingly quick, the Velar was no slouch either. Considering how much weight its lugging around, the Velar gets up to speed rather promptly, and the exhaust doesn’t sound half bad either, though not as dramatic as the BMW X3 M40i. The BMW also feels quicker off the line. The Velar uses an 8-speed transmission but is a little too jumpy for my taste, and mildly lugs like a dual-clutch if you hesitate on the gas pedal. The steering isn’t as direct as the F-Pace’s either and feels more electrically assisted.
As we mentioned before, the Velar and F-Pace sit on the same platform and with the Jag we constantly praised it for its agile handling and sporty personality, but Land Rover seems to have tuned the Velar to be a more supple and confident cruiser. V6 models are equipped with an air suspension too and even on massive 22-inch wheels, the Velar offers an absorbent ride that soaks up a lot of vertical motion and balances out quickly over bumps.
The Velar hits the sweet spot on the Range Rover spectrum but we would not call it cheap. With a steep starting price of $62,000 for just the base model with the diesel engine (cough up $7,000 more if you want the competitive V6), it commands a hefty premium over similarly loaded rivals like the BMW X3 M40i ($61,500), Audi SQ5 ($61,300), and Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG ($62,200). The Velar’s pricing actually falls more in line with the Porsche Macan.
The near-fully loaded Velar P380 HSE R-Dynamic I tested rang just shy of $90,000. Is it justified? Most definitely. Some say the Range Rover Sport carries more value but $90,000 will only get you the base model (340 hp only) with hardly any options, and we’re comparing this with a Velar garnished with all the bells and whistles. Mind you, I went so far as to call the Velar one of the best looking SUVs, ever. Be that as it may, the stunning sheetmetal only tells half the story. The Velar’s surprisingly spacious rear seats, sublime suspension tuning, and characterful V6 engine tell the rest.
型号 Model: 2018 Range Rover Velar P380 R-Dynamic HSE
顏色 Paint Type: Santorini Black ($670)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $82,600
試車售價 Price as Tested: $89,960
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,874
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,803 / 2,032 / 1,665
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,098
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 380 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 332 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 13.0 / 10.0 / 11.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.3
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P265/40R22