In Review

Range Rover Velar: Does it live up to its off-road pedigree?

It boasts one of the 'cleanest' designs on road today, say critics, but is it an off-roader at heart?

Land Rover has released a new luxury SUV to fill the gap between the Range Rover Evoque and Sport. 

Called the Velar, a name taken from Land Rover's prototypes of the 1970s, it is expected to be a rival to the more road-focused SUVs such as the Porsche Macan and BMW X6. 

The Velar is very different to anything the British carmaker has made before, as it is designed to bring together the styling of a coupe with the off-road capabilities of the the Land Rover Discovery. 

Under the sleek exterior is an all-wheel drive system for tackling rough terrain, and it offers a choice of six engine configurations. These range from a 178bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine to a 375bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol motor, all of which come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The new car shows Land Rover's intent to expand into different markets, but does the Velar stray from its off-roader roots?

Here's what the critics think.

Design

The Velar is arguably "the most road-focused Land Rover product yet", says Autocar, as it sits significantly lower to the ground than other cars in the Range Rover lineup. 

While its short body overhangs indicate that the car has been designed to perform well both on and off road, its low ride height and sloping rear roofline give the Velar a more coupe-like aesthetic. This is emphasised by the thin body-wide tail light cluster - a design trick used by manufacturers to make their cars look wider and lower. 

Around 81 per cent of the Velar's architecture is aluminium, says Car, allowing it to have a kerb weight of just 3,997lbs. It has helped the company make "one of the cleanest, tightest, most cohesive designs on the road today", adds the magazine, but it makes "everything else in the lineup look dated."

Interior and practicality

The Velar's interior may be "pretty conventional in dimensions", but the Daily Telegraph says the crossover's fascia "sets new design standards". That's because it debuts "new screen technology, upholstery materials and stark simplicity including the single-piece cross beam facing the front-seat passenger".

Nestled in the centre console are "twin high-definition touchscreens stacked on top of each other" as well as "floating rotary controls" that sit below. 

Buyers can use the screens to see the navigation and infotainment settings, says Evo, and for controlling the heating and cooling systems. The top screen can also be used to watch "external camera images when off-roading", helping drivers manoeuvre the Velar through uneven terrain. 

It's "intuitive to use in a way we've not really seen from JLR infotainment systems so far", the magazine adds, but "the sheer number of functions available means they could prove a little distracting if you attempted to use them on the move." 

"Those in the front will have little to complain about", says CarBuyer, "as the Velar is very spacious and luxurious". Despite the rear of the cabin being "plush", those over six-feet tall "will wish for more legroom" and the middle seat "is also a little narrow." 

Its 673-litre boot is "competitively sized" and "offers all the space a family of four could reasonably need", the website says, although this does shrink if buyers opt for the optional space-saver space wheel. Lowering the rear bench opens up a total boot space of 1,731 litres. 

On the road

Despite its road-focused design, Autocar says the Velar has "already proven its class-leading off-road ability at launch" like a traditional Land Rover. 

Those looking to take their Velar off-road regularly should go for the cheaper 19ins wheel option in the S model, the magazine says, as the five-spoke rims are more "rock-and-sand friendly". Even with the 21ins wheels that come as standard on HSE models, the magazine says the ride still feels "quiet and composed" on tarmac. 

While it weighs just under 4,000lbs, AutoExpress says the SUV feels "brisk" and the throttle is quick to respond. Zero to 60mph takes 6.1secs and diesel owners will get an "almighty shove" from the engine's 516lb-ft of torque. 

The car comes with a "host of advanced trickery in the Terrain Response settings", which the magazine says helps the Velar cope with "far more off-roading than the vast majority of owners will tackle".

The Velar is an "effortless drive" when specced with the 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 engine and ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox, Car reports. These models come with adjustable air suspension as standard, too, which should make the car's ride quality smoother. 

But entry-level D300 models aren't particularly "smooth", says Evo, and the car "doesn't hide its diesel grumbles as well as rival engines from BMW or Mercedes-Benz". 

Nevertheless, this version can easily build up pace and will prove "a little less thirsty in real-world driving" than the range-topping models.

It's an ample off-roader as well, the magazine adds, although the "ease at which it covers terrain does come at the expense of the smell of hard-working brakes".

Price and release

Orders for the Range Rover Velar are open now, says AutoExpress, with prices starting at around £70,530 for a turbodiesel V6 model. This does seem steep, the mag says, particularly as the rear-legroom is "not much better than in some new superminis."

Range Rover Velar 2017: Specs, prices and release

26 April

An all-new Range Rover has just been unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. The new SUV is set to compete directly with the Porsche Macan and the BMW X6.

Called the Velar, a name derived from Land Rover's prototypes of the 1970s, the company claims that the car will fill "the white space" between the Evoque compact SUV and the larger Range Rover Sport.

The new vehicle is unlike anything the company has released, blending a coupe-like silhouette with the short overhangs of the Land Rover Discovery. Despite its relatively tall ride height, the Velar's muscular wheel arches give it a wide and low stance similar to that of a luxury saloon.

There will be six engine configurations to choose from when the car launches this summer, including a 178bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel motor and a 375bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol unit. An eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox channels the power to all-four wheels – both are standard on all models.

Here's everything we know about the luxury SUV so far:

Design

The Velar is a crossover in every sense of the word. Its ride height is closed to 10ins, while its short body overhangs indicate that it's been designed to perform well on a variety of road surfaces and terrains.

While its ride height is only an inch shy of the Land Rover Discovery's, the Velar has a significantly lower rear roofline for a more coupe-like aesthetic. Adding to the car's coupe-like look is its body width tail light cluster, a design technique used by manufacturers to make their cars look wider.

The Velar seats up to five occupants and has a 113ins wheelbase. That's only 10ins shorter than the upcoming Lexus LS, so it should offer passengers enough legroom to compete with some of the most luxurious saloon cars on the market.

Interior

The cabin is packed with technology, including an array of touchscreen control panels for the infotainment system and climate control settings. The largest of the bunch is a 12.3ins "virtual cockpit" display located behind the steering wheel, says AutoExpress, while the central control panel handles music, navigation and the driver's phone.

The Velar has 632 litres of boot space when the rear seats are in place and 1,731 when they're lowered, says the magazine, meaning the Velar is "comfortably clear" of its Porsche Macan rival. The boot lid is a "conventional sing-piece item", although there's no "extendable ledge to sit on" like the Discovery.

Unlike many premium SUVs and saloons, the Velar uses a sustainable alternative to leather for its seat upholstery. This material can also be seen on the dashboard and steering wheel. Leather can be specced as an optional extra.

Engines

A choice of six engines will be available at launch: three petrol and three diesel units, each fitted with an eight-speed automatic gearbox directing power to all four wheels. 

Kicking off the range are a pair of 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium turbo diesel engines, available in either 178bhp or 237bhp power outputs. The Ingenium unit is Land Rover's latest economy-focused engine and has a claimed 52.5mpg in the entry-level Velar, although that dips to 48.7mpg in the higher-powered motor. 

Topping the diesel range is a 3.0-litre V6 engine that produces 296bhp and an impressive 516lb-ft torque. It won't be as cheap to run as the Ingenium units, but it does offer a 0-62mph time of 6.5secs and a top speed of 150mph.

While the petrol engines may be less popular with buyers looking for low running costs, the new Ingenium units will be more powerful. Buyers can choose from a 247bhp motor, capable of zero to 62mph in 6.4secs, to a 296bhp variant launching later this year.

Rounding out the range is a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine, which boasts an output of 375bhp and 332lb-ft torque. Zero to 62mph is dispatched in 5.7secs, although at 30.1mpg, fuel economy figures are the lowest in the range.

SVR

While the Velar is positioned as a luxury SUV, it doesn’t appear to have stopped Land Rover's engineers from drawing-up a high-performance SVR version. 

Images posted by Autocar reveal a heavily camouflaged Velar outside the Jaguar Land Rover development facility at the Nurburgring, suggesting a new track-focused variant of the SUV is on the way. 

It will be powered by a 5.0-litre V8 engine that can also be found in the Range Rover Sport SVR, says the magazine, which could produce 542bhp and 502lb-ft of torque. 

Land Rover may upgrade the chassis to cater for the extra horsepower, says Car. Bigger brakes can be seen behind the vehicle's "new alloy wheels" and the eight-speed automatic "will be tuned too". 

The company is also working on reducing the car's weight by introducing "a smattering of lightweight aluminium and composite parts", adds the magazine. 

As the car hasn't been formally announced, there's no word on pricing or a release date. However, Car says buyers should expect to spend around £90,000 on the range-topping SUV. 

Price and release

The Range Rover Velar will go on sale for £44,830, making it about £15,000 more expensive than the smaller Evoque and £15,000 cheaper than the Range Rover Sport.

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