What is undoubtedly currently the most beautiful SUV on the planet has finally arrived in Mzansi. The all-new Land Rover Range Rover Velar has begun strutting its stuff on the roads, catwalks and off-road tracks, because it can. And don’t believe the German hype; this car has no direct rivals. It simply exists on its own plane. I was lucky enough to drive a few models in the greater Cape Town area.
Velar is positioned between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport in terms of both size and pricing. It is 4.8 metres long, 2m wide, 1.66m tall and has a lengthy wheelbase of 2.87m, making it as spacious as bigger SUVs. At some point I was able to take the back seat and experience the extensive legroom myself. Taller back-seat passengers will struggle for headroom though. While there, taking in the sights, I noticed you can optionally buy a rear seat entertainment system with wireless headphones and remote control.
Of course there are all sorts of other interesting gadgets and technological marvels packed into the Velar, as one would expect. These include 4G connectivity and a WiFi hotspot that can connect up to eight devices within the vehicle. All this is accessed via the new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with two 25.4cm-wide touch screens. It makes its debut in this car but will undoubtedly be seen in other Land Rover products. What it achieves is the minimisation of buttons by placing pretty much everything on the screen itself. In that sense it works like the modern smartphone and tablet, which we are used to. Buyers can choose between the 17- or the 23-speaker Meridian sound system. Either choice will give powerful, clear sound all around.
There’s also a 31.2cm Interactive Driver Display system placed right in front of the driver. It allows for the display of several information types, such as speed, engine revs, satellite navigation and others. That technology itself is not particularly new; we’ve seen in within some of the German products. But it is quite new for the Land Rover brand and works exceptionally well in the suitably premium Velar.
Land Rover spent a considerable amount of time and money ensuring the Velar’s premium tag is worth its price when it comes to interior build materials. For instance, there’s a new sustainable Dapple Grey material that features a wool-blend textile contrasted with a Suedecloth insert. It replaces traditional leather. Another highlight is Carbon Fibre Copper weave trim, created by weaving carbon fibre and copper filaments together under a high gloss finish to signify sporting luxury. Quite innovative.
What strikes people mainly about the Velar, is its exterior appearance. We are used to Range Rover design now, but this car is taking it to a different level. Those thin machete-shaped LED headlights are standard with all models, flanking either a black or chrome front grille (depending on model). They also wrap around the top end of the bonnet, housing indicator lights as well. The Velar’s side profile proves to be sleek, with a sharp line that goes from the bonnet to the boot, a sloping rear roof profile and blade designs on the front fenders. An interesting feature is the four electronically deployable door handles that come out automatically once it’s unlocked. Neat, if not a bit gimmicky.
The Velar will initially be sold in South Africa with six different engine types, namely D180, D240, D300, P250, P300 and P380. The Ds are diesels and the Ps are petrol. The numbers next to them denote horsepower in PS, so the D180 produces 180PS or 132kW, while the P300 makes 300PS or 221kW.
I got to drive the D240, D300 and P380. First, I got to grips with the P380, which uses a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine with 280kW and 450Nm of torque. It’s a strong performance SUV with plenty of go on the throttle, great response and forceful grip from all four tyres. These will range between 18 and 22-inches in diameter, depending on the model combinations.
Then I took hold of the D300, whose 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel makes a heady 221kW and 700Nm of torque. Strong, able and relatively quiet, the D300 will be the choice of many diesel fans looking for extra pull from their Velar.
Lastl, I drove the one I consider to be the best of the bunch, the D240. Quiet, comfortable, but with lots of capabilities, the D240 makes suitable use of its 177kW and 500Nm. All models come standard with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control, as well as a 251mm ground clearance and 650mm wading depth. With the right tyres this car can more or less go anywhere a Defender LWB can. True story.
The Range Rover Velar may look pretentious, with its flamboyant lines, kinky eyes and hi-tech. But underneath all that velvety luxury is a highly capable Land Rover. It is certainly a future finalist in any Car of the Year competition. Price will remain an issue though, as it has been with a number of other Land Rover products. Hopefully, the company can do something about this.
Range Rover Velar Prices
Velar Base S SE HSE
2.0 diesel 132kW R947,700 R1,028,600 R1,077,900 R1,172,400
2.0 diesel 177kW R1 010 400 R1 091 300 R1 140 600 R1 235 100
2.0 petrol 184kW R947 700 R1 028 600 R1 077 900 R1 172 400
3.0 diesel 221kW R1 089 000 R1 169 800 R1 219 100 R1 313 700
3.0 petrol 280kW R1 099 400 R1 180 300 R1 229 600 R1 324 100
Velar R-Dynamic Base S SE HSE
2.0 diesel 132kW R980 500 R1 061 300 R1 110 600 R1 205 200
2.0 diesel 177kW R1 043 200 R1 124 000 R1 173 300 R1 267 900
2.0 petrol 184kW R980 500 R1 061 300 R1 110 600 R1 205 200
3.0 diesel 221kW R1 121 800 R1 202 600 R1 251 900 R1 346 400
3.0 petrol 280kW R1 132 200 R1 213 100 R1 262 400 R1 356 900
Velar First Edition
3.0 diesel 221kW R1 529 300
3.0 petrol 280kW R1 539 800