A step too far or one in the right direction?
Range Rover's latest vehicle has been grabbing headlines recently and so far I really didn't think much of it. That is until I saw one on the road, this opened up my eyes. The one I saw was very similar to the car that is featured in the cover picture. It had the stunning red colour and the optional black pack and it was just the business.
Alright, so first impressions were good and I was impressed but I wasn't entirely convinced by it. Then I found myself sitting in front of the TV and during the duration of the hour long program, the ad for the Velar must have appeared about three or four times. Surely I have been too harsh on this car. I then sat down to read and watch reviews about this car as you do and found out that I was in fact being too harsh on it but that my criticism could be justified as you will soon find out.
Starting from the exterior, there's no denying that this car is stunning from every angle and to me it is the best looking car in the Land Rover, Range Rover range at the moment. There are visible design cues taken from both the Evoque and the Sport but they have been combined perfectly to make a stylish premium SUV.
This sharp and sophisticated uber chic SUV represents the shift of the traditional SUV towards a smaller and sharper vehicle with a moderate off-roading ability. The market for these medium sized luxury SUVs is booming currently, so much so that some of the world's leading luxury manufacturers have made a bold leap to create their own car. The Velar fits into a currently booming category featuring the likes of the Maserati Levante, Porsche Macan, Jaguar F Pace, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5 and the Mercedes GLC. The fact that JLR now has two vehicles in this category describes how successful these cars are and could be in the future. Even on a tighter budget, SUVs are the 'in' thing with sales of the Nissan X Trail, Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sportage increasing rapidly over the past year.
Now, the interior. It is very modern and full of plush materials though there are a couple of cheap plastic panels for this price. The base model 2.0 litre diesel doesn't even get leather seats which is unfair considering the premium price of the model. The cabin has three fairly large screens, two of which sit in the centre console and control things like the terrain response, seat heaters and other functions. The major drawback with these and any other large touch screen infotainment units for that matter is that you have to take your eyes of the road to operate basically anything. Now, where I live driving and using you phone is against the law, I can't imagine that driving and using your multimedia touch screen will be much safer. At least the Velar's infotainment unit is fast and works generally well, the screens are quite complicated in terms of how they present information but really there aren't any major issues with it. The cabin is overall minimalistic and functional. Combine this with the air suspension and you are transported to a level of luxury found in the Range Rover Sport. There is one downside if you choose the base diesel or petrol, you don't get the air suspension, so really the base model S is a massive ripoff. Another signature feature of Range Rover's interiors is the sound system, you can either go for the stock standard option or with a few thousand dollars more you can have a Meridian sound system, which comes in three variants. The most expensive one being the Meridian signature sound system complete with 23 speakers and some other fancy audio bits.
There is even an app where you can view your vehicle status, lock and unlock the car, fiddle with the lights and track your journeys! This is turning out to be the Range Rover for the modern tech junkie!
This car comes standard with a few safety features like lane departure warning, autonomous braking and cruise control. There are about 5 or 6 different safety combinations where you can have everything from autonomous parking to a driver condition monitor but let's face it if you are a car guy or girl wanting to buy this car, the safety features will probably be one of the lowest priorities on your list.
Its looking good so far for the Velar, it looks great, has a comfy interior and has impressive off road capabilities but that was the good part. Now comes the not so good bits-
However the nice the cabin maybe, it feels rather cramped because the doors are high and so the windows are small which means the amount of light in the cabin is rather petty. The sloping roofline means it is a bit challenging to sit in the back if you are over six foot.
The funniest thing I found about its car are its headlights. RR claim them to produce a beam almost as bright as daylight. I suspect a lot of people will be complaining of certain degrees of blindness after coming face to face with the car. But aha JLR have thought of it, the beam diverts itself away from oncoming traffic so you can still see the road clearly but oncoming drivers won't be blinded by it and they also claim that the LED's will last for the lifetime of the car! I better find out where JLR gets their bulbs from so I won't have to change another bulb in my lifetime! Though I suspect my lifetime may be greater than that of the car. I can just imagine a grandfather and his grandchild walking along the road and suddenly the grandad is blinded and he asks his grandchild, is that the sun? The child will reply calmly saying no grandad, it is just the new Range Rover Velar!
Firstly, the engines. The Velar comes with three diesel and three petrol variants. There is a 2 litre 4 cylinder diesel which you can either have with one turbo or two. Then there's the 3 litre twin turbo 4 cylinder which catapults the car from 0-100 km/hr in 6.5 seconds or so they say. I still can't wrap my head around those figures, which are all well and good but this being a city focused SUV, the petrol engines are going to be more popular. There are two 2 litre turbo 4 cylinder options separated only by a power output of 50PS. Then there's the top of the line 3 litre supercharged V6 which produces the most power and can take the car to 100 in under 6 seconds but it is also the most thirsty and by quite a margin. Normally I would take the 3 litre supercharged V6 but on this occasion I think that the turbocharged 4 cylinder might be the best value for money. The amount of variety is great but bear in mind this is a heavy car and so the smaller engines do struggle a little on the slopes which isn't really an issue because the steepest slope this car will see is probably the owners driveway (if it is steep, it could also be flat).
What doesn't help the Velar's case is its price which is probably the biggest negative about this otherwise good car. The Velar starts at a whopping $135,000. That is the second most expensive car in the category only behind the frankly overpriced Maserati Levante which comes in at $140,000 base price. The cheapest two cars in this category are the brilliant new Jaguar F Pace and the long running Audi Q5 which both have a base price of $90,000 while a new Mercedes GLC will set you back around $95,000. Then comes my favourite car in this class which is the fantastic Porsche Macan which has a base price of $115,000. (All prices in NZD)
I'm going to do this in a typical kiwi way, my verdict is a Yeah, Nah.
Yeah- because it looks great, feels premium in and out and can go off-road
Nah-because it is simply too pricey. I say take the F pace or the Macan instead.
If you aren't from NZ or Australia I apologize, so here is a translated version of what I just said. Yes, the car looks fantastic and is everything you'd expect from Range Rover comfort wise.
But no, I wouldn't have it because the price is really high for what you get. I'd rather get the impressive Jaguar F pace or the quick Porsche Macan and spend the difference on a Fiat 500 Abarth! Thanks for reading!
All pictures belong to their rightful owners and I mean no harm using them here. All words are mine.