2018 Range Rover Velar Review
Toby Hagon’s 2018 Range Rover Velar Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Range Rover Velar slots in between the Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover Evoque. It’s more high street than outback but it’s more capable than its competitors when the going gets rough.
PRICE $71,550+ORC and $168,862+ORC (whole range) WARRANTY Three-years, 100,000 kilometre ENGINE 2.0L twin turbo 4-cyl diesel POWER 177kW at 4000rpm TORQUE 500Nm at 1500rpm TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto DRIVE AWD DIMENSIONS 4803mm (L), 2032mm (W MIRRORS FOLDED), 2145mm (W INC MIRRORS), 1665mm (H) TURNING CIRCLE 11.6m GROUND CLEARANCE 213mm (W COIL SPRING SUSPENSION) 251mm (W AIR SUSPENSION) APPROACH/DEPARTURE ANGLE 25.9/27.3 degrees (W COIL SPRING SUSPENSION) 28.9/29.5 degrees (W AIR SUSPENSION) WADING DEPTH 600mm (W COIL SPRING SUSPENSION) 650mm (W AIR SUSPENSION) TOWING WEIGHT 750kg (UNBRAKED), 2400kg (BRAKED; D180 AND D250 ONLY), 2500kg (BRAKED; ALL OTHER MODELS) KERB WEIGHT 1804kg to 1959kg (whole range) SEATS 5 THIRST 5.8L/100km combined cycle FUEL diesel
RANGE ROVERS no longer have to clamber over the most challenging obstacles, instead aiming to be the best in their respective classes. The reality is the Velar’s prime competitors – think Porsche Macan, BMW X4 and sister brand Jaguar’s F-Pace – don’t particularly like getting their tyres dirty. In response Range Rover has diluted some of its legendary off-road prowess with the Velar, instead injecting more effort into how it behaves in the ’burbs.
That’s immediately obvious when you lift the boot floor to reveal a skinny space saver spare tyre that limits the recommended top speed to 80km/h. That on its own seriously limits how far most people will want to venture from a major centre. There’s also no low range gearing, so low-speed rock hopping or hill climbing will be compromised.
And there are little things; accessing the screw-in point for the front tow recovery hook requires removal of the lower part of the bumper before you go off-road. That said, the Velar will surprise with its ability.
What’s the interior of the Range Rover Velar like?
Land Rover interiors are typically upmarket and the Velar ramps it up a notch or two. As with the suave exterior designers have gone to town in the cabin.
There’s minimalism to the dash design, which relies heavily on screens and digital displays flanked by authentic high quality materials such as wood, carbon-fibre, aluminium and leather. About the only letdown are the plastic speaker grilles, which have an elegant silver finish but lack the cool, crisp touch of metal.
Be warned, though, because many of the features are optional and can quickly ramp the price of your chosen ride sky high. Those options also extend to the finishes and trims.
If you’re not happy with camel-coloured leather or plain black, for example, there are myriad colour combinations to appeal to all shapes, sizes and tastes. You can also choose various trim and feature packs, known as S, SE, HSE and the First Edition that should be available until mid-2018. If you want a sportier look – complete with unique bumpers, alloy pedals and various trim tweaks – there’s the R-Dynamic pack.
One thing that does come standard is a strip of high definition screens. Two 10.0-inch screens dominate the centre console, with some large knobs and dials to complement the touchscreen functionality. The upper screen looks after most infotainment functions, including phone and audio settings, while the lower one can be toggled between main vehicle settings (including various off-road modes), seat settings (such as heating and ventilation) and cabin ventilation. The largest colour screen is the 12.3-inch customisable instrument cluster that displays everything from the speedo/tacho and trip computer data to the operation of the driver assist systems and navigation.
What’s the passenger space like?
Keeping people comfy is also high on the agenda and it starts with a hushed cabin. The nicely bolstered front seats, too, make for easy long distance touring, helped by sliding arm rests atop the centre console.
Rear legroom is modest, especially with someone tall up front. That makes it less luxurious than the front.
The nearly square boot swallows 558 litres of luggage if you pile it to the roof; if you want you can option a full-size spare wheel (a space saver is standard) but it raises the boot floor about 9cm. Plus, there’s a 40/20/40 split-fold system that caters for long or bulky items.
What’s the Range Rover Velar like on the road?
It’s no featherweight, but by modern luxury SUV standards the Velar is respectably light. Combined with the low-slung stance it makes for a well behaved wagon.
Cornering grip is very good and makes the Velar behave with borderline sportiness. It’s helped by decent body control, which ensures minimal leaning in bends. The three cars we sampled ran on either 20- or 21-inch tyres, which are among the largest on any new cars. They play a big role in all that grip.
Less endearing is the steering; it’s light and responsive but once pushing on in corners doesn’t provide much feedback to the driver. The ride, too, is not as plush as many Range Rovers, mainly because things have been stiffened up to inject more of that sportiness into the driving experience.
On B-grade country roads that translates to some initial stiffness and fidgeting, even when Comfort mode is selected; Sport mode adds welcome weight to the steering but furthers firms that ride.
As for engines, the supercharged V6 in the P380 wins the performance war. It’s strong from the moment you press the accelerator and continues the rush through its broad rev range. But it’s thirsty, especially if you drive it with enthusiasm.
So, it’s the diesels that will make up the bulk of sales. The 177kW four-cylinder in the D240 is beautifully suited to the car, with relaxed acceleration and enough punch to enjoy the competent dynamics. It’s smooth, too, and works nicely with the eight-speed auto, although there’s some occasional laziness when calling on it to dart down a few ratios.
If it’s outright thrust you’re chasing the V6 diesel in the D300 is the pick, with effortless grunt and a smooth, unassuming nature. Keep in mind, though, that the diesel adds about 120kg to the weight, so the raw increase in outputs is dulled slightly by carrying around a heavier engine. For most people, then, the four-cylinder will be ample.
During the local launch this week we ventured into a state forest with heavily rutted gravel and rocky roads along with the occasional creek crossing. Ground clearance of up to 251mm – with cars fitted with adjustable height air suspension (cars on steel springs have only 213mm) – ensures it clears most obstacles and it does a terrific job of diverting drive to the wheels with traction.
The well-tuned traction control system helps there and there’s also an active centre differential (you can also option a locking rear differential), which locks when slip is detected. However, the off-road cruise control system (called All Terrain Progress Control) doesn’t always rigorously maintain its set speed, requiring the occasional override with the brakes or accelerator.
What safety features does the Range Rover Velar have?
The Velar gets dual front airbags and curtain airbags down each side. But no word yet on its occupant protection from independent crash test authority NCAP. There are also various electronic features that aim to avoid a crash in the first place. They include lane departure warning, which vibrates the steering wheel if you get too close to lane markings without using the indicators.
There’s also auto emergency braking (AEB), which uses a forward-facing camera to look out for other vehicles and pedestrians at up to 80km/h. If the driver fails to brake it can automatically apply the brakes to avoid a crash or reduce its severity. A more advanced auto braking system that operates at higher speeds combines the camera with a radar. It’s standard on the HSE and optional on all others.
So, what do we think of the Range Rover Velar?
The Velar is an acquired taste and should only be acquired by those content to shell out for some of its optional features. That’s when you start to experience more of what the Velar is about. In short, it’s more high fashion than value and practicality.
If you care about the car you drive the Velar will deliver on making you feel special, with a classy and welcoming interior and a sleek compact shape. It’s also great to drive on-road and decent off-road. Guaranteed to stand out, then.