It isn’t very often that you get the opportunity to feel regal and glide around feeling good about yourself. So, when I get the opportunity to park my behind in something luxurious, by Jove I’m going to do it.
Such an opportunity was afforded to me last week when I pulled up to Land Rover and was handed the key to a brand-new Range Rover Velar. I’m not usually one to write a “real” car review, however in this case I feel it would be rude not to let you into the Velar’s cabin and experience the latest Land Rover.
The first thing that strikes you is how it looks. The new Range, which sits between the Evoque and the Sport, is surprisingly squat. It doesn’t tower above you like a Manhattan skyscraper as so many of Land Rover’s products do. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a large machine with significant road presence, but it is most certainly not as large as a Vogue. Size aside it is a very pretty proposition. It looks exactly how I would have drawn a car of the future when I was 8. Beautifully sculpted lights, nice big wheels, subtle but deliberate lines that draw the eye, and ever so slightly aggressive. It looks like it should shift and be comfortable at the same time - not a bad first impression.
I’ve only ever been the passenger in a Range Rover, so the prospect of driving this beautiful machine had me salivating. Holding the key as I was about to jump aboard reinforced exactly why I love cars and that starting to write for #Isitfast was a bloody brilliant idea. Even the key makes you realise you are about to get into something special. As you open the door, with the swish new handles that come out to greet you like a dear old friend, and jump into the driver’s seat, you quickly see what you are getting for your money. The seats are comfortable but supportive, the steering wheel feels well put together and certainly everything within touching distance looks tip top and well made.
Then there is the technology. A lot has been written about the new generation dash and infotainment system in the Velar but when you are in there playing around with it, the whole unit is pretty impressive. The dash is digital and beams the satnav straight at you between digital dials. The quality is good and doesn’t distract you too much when you are driving. The car I drove also had the optional head up display that tells you the speed limit of the road you are on and the speed you are travelling at ... the two don’t always match, especially with the 240bhp engine fitted in the DSE I was in. All these features are nice but nothing all that new in the world of premium motors – it’s what is installed in the middle that is worth talking about. The Velar is equipped with a double touch screen bonanza that lets you control all your entertainment and everything about the car. You can control the ride height, the AWD system, the climate control, the music, SatNav, ambient lighting, heated seats and everything else you can think of from the dual touchscreen command centre. It’s amazing. The novelty factor is there but I really liked it. The options were clear, the software was responsive to the touch and the technology itself didn’t seem out of place in the car. Even when I mentioned about grubby finger prints all over the screen, the chap showing me about handed me a Land Rover branded cloth that is provided with every Velar to solve that particular issue.
Once I’d had a play around with the tech and lowered the ride height to its lowest setting, I was off. I was piloting the 240bhp, diesel powered SE spec. Pretty much the middle of the road offering with the engine I’d recommend for daily use.
It. Was. Good.
The ride was nice and smooth and was combined with the automatic 8-speed gearbox which, thankfully, comes as standard and really does suit the car. If you needed to go a little quicker it wasn’t a struggle to up the pace and I glided over potholes and bumps in the road without even the slightest realisation I was on an un-kept stretch of road out the back of Kent somewhere. The Velar doesn’t feel that big when you are at the wheel, it corners well and there isn’t a huge amount of body roll to write home about. It feels like a nice competent cruiser that you could nip to the shops in or pack up and head to Switzerland without too much bother. The driving position was good; even with the suspension at its lowest setting you are still higher than other motorists so you can see what’s going on around you and feel important. Always a must in a Range Rover.
I drove the Velar for around 15 minutes and, to be honest, I didn’t want to get out when I was done. It really is a very nice place to be. Having been in a Vogue Autobiography and a Sport, this “middle” version lives up to the badge. If I had a need for a big car and a little bit more spare cash, I’d be putting my name down on an order form. It looks great, it drives well and it has all the tech you’d want to make it a comfortable place for you to be. All this doesn’t come cheap however, the bit of kit I was in would set you back £68,000…
So, in summary, would I recommend one? Yes, yes I would. It is ruddy lovely. There is a lot of competition in the market for this type of vehicle but it really does take a lot to beat a Range Rover badge on the bonnet in front of you. Get out there and try one, Being in a Velar really is like being on cloud 9 … with a Land Rover badge on the front ….