Why the 2017 Velar is the coolest Range Rover ever

The Ranger Rover Velar 2017 is the latest addition to the Range Rover family. Here’s everything you need to know about Jaguar Land Rover’s new SUV, including the Range Rover Velar release date, specs, features, price – and what it’s like to drive.

Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) are hugely popular, and remain one of the fastest growing sectors in motoring – along with electric cars. That’s why there’s no shortage of SUVs on the market; in fact, the Jaguar Land Rover portfolio alone now has nine such vehicles. The latest addition to this line-up is the Range Rover Velar, and it’s important because it ticks an empty box in the line-up.

The Velar is now the first mid-size Range Rover, filling what JLR calls the “white space” between the much smaller Evoque, and the marginally larger Range Rover Sport. It’s for people who enjoy the slick Evoque design but still want the motoring heft you get from a Sport or Range Rover proper. It’s got some decent innards, a gorgeous design, and is crammed full of tech.

Below, I’ll explain everything you need to know about the Range Rover Velar, including four reasons why we reckon it’s the one of the best Range Rovers ever. You’ll also find pricing information and some details about what it’s like to actually drive further down the page.

Here are four ways the Range Rover Velar is the coolest Range Rover yet:

1. Range Rover Velar Design: It’s seriously slick

Range Rover Velar Exterior

The overwhelming impression you get from the Range Rover Velar – both inside and out – is of minimalism. If Apple designed SUVs, this is probably what they’d look like.

The Velar’s exterior is very simple, composed of flat panels and subtle lines that give it a more gentle, curvaceous appearance than the Range Rover Evoque while retaining the large road presence of a Sport. To be exact, the wheelbase – the distance between the centres of the front and back wheels – is 2.87m, compared to the Evoque’s 2.66m wheelbase and the Sport’s 2.93m wheelbase. You can also get optional 22-inch wheels to further enhance the on-road presence.

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There are some classic Jaguar Land Rover motifs on the exterior; a floating roof and clamshell bonnet, with a tapering silhouette that pulls the visual weight of the car towards the back. It’s typical Range Rover design, but it’s great to see that the muscular, ready-to-pounce stance continues to be a staple even with more modern iterations of the series.

The bonnet is long, which looks great from the outside, but can be slightly annoying in practice; it partially blocks your forward view when driving uphill, meaning you occasionally have to rely on drive-cams or extensive neck-craning.

Most of the Velar’s body (about 80%) is built from aluminium; specifically, this is 6000-series aluminium that offers high-strength, allowing for a reduction in panel thickness from 1.5mm to 1.1mm – supposedly without strength compromise. The roof is also built from lightweight aluminium, helping keep the centre of gravity low and thus improving ride and handling.

The car is very flat-looking; in fact, even the door handles sit flush with the panels until you press them, prompting them to slide outwards. This tapered, flat design has allowed for a drag co-efficient of just 0.32, which means it’s technically the most aerodynamic Land Rover to date.

Range Rover Velar Interior

The interior of the car is similarly reductionist too. Apparently, Jaguar Land Rover’s designers want you to feel like you’re sitting inside a sanctuary, and it’s fair to say they’ve achieved it.

It’s very spacious inside the Velar, with significant legroom available for both front-seat and rear-seat passengers, and the brunt of the infotainment systems are successfully squeezed into two touch-screen panels in the centre of the car. Air vents are slender, the “push to start” button is tucked (somewhat awkwardly) behind the steering wheel, and the instrument panel sits flush with the surface behind it. It’s all very iPhone, and it works very well.

However, this is a Range Rover, so there’s also been plenty of emphasis on getting the luxury feel just right. This is largely achieved through premium textile materials and a new “cut diamond” motif that’s set to appear on future JLR vehicles too. The sustainable premium textile used for the seat – offered as an alternative to leather – was developed with leading European designers at Kvadrat, and comes in Dapple Grey with a Suedecloth insert in either Light Oyster or Ebony.

There are four litres of storage space in the central cubby, 7.5 litres of space in the glovebox (available with optional cooling), and stowage compartments designed to accommodate 750ml drinks bottles in the lower door casings. For luggage, you get an impressive 632 litres of space, but this can be expanded to 1,731 litres by folding the rear seats flat – you’ll get a space of 1,795mm (long) x 1,274mm (wide).

All-in-all, sitting in a Range Rover Velar feels very zen, which is sort of what you expect from such a hulking vehicle – box, ticked.

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2. Range Rover Velar Specs: Acceleration, fuel consumption and top speed

There are six core variants of the Range Rover Velar, three of which are diesel and three petrol. They all vary significantly in terms of automotive heft, so I’ll run through the most basic version and the most powerful model to give you a better idea of the car’s capability range. The long and short of it, however, is that the premium Velar offers sufficient oomph for Range Rover fans.

The least monstrous model is the 2.0L D180, which has a four-cylinder 16-valve 2-litre engine. With this model, JLR reckons you’ll manage 0 – 60mph in a relatively respectable 8.4 seconds. For comparison, even the top-spec Nissan Qashqai only manages in 9.1 seconds – although it’s a fair whack cheaper to boot.

The top speed of the cheapest Range Rover Velar is only 130mph, which isn’t particularly impressive given you’ll be forking out over £40,000 for the luxury of sitting in one. Perhaps more annoyingly, this top speed drops to 120mph if you opt for the basic 18-inch wheels. Part of the problem is that the Velar is a mid-size SUV, and is thus heavy. For instance, the lightest model is still a hefty 1,804kg – far higher than the 1,621kg Range Rover Evoque, by comparison.

Things improve when you start forking out cash for a better-equipped Velar though. If you’re interested in getting the top-spec 3.0L P380 V6 petrol variant, you can expect a far nippier 0 – 60mph time of just 5.3 seconds. That’s way faster than the 7.3 seconds it’ll take a high-end Evoque to manage the same acceleration, but not quite as nippy as the 4.7 seconds a Range Rover Sport can achieve.

With the best model, you’ll also get 450Nm (that’s 332lb ft) of torque at between 3,500 and 5,000 RPM, and a maximum of 380PS (280kW) of power at 6,500 RPM.

And in these troubling economic times, the other metric that’s important is fuel consumption. The more powerful the engine, the quicker your miles-per-gallon drops off unfortunately. So the most efficient model (by far) is the Ingenium D180 AWD Automatic, which achieves 45.6mpg in an urban setting, and rises to 57.7mpg in an extra-urban environment.

The combined mpg is 52.5mpg, which is about 30mpg less than you’d expect from a diesel Renault Clio and about the same as a diesel Land Rover Discovery Sport. The point, as always, is that SUVs aren’t exactly economical, so consider whether you really need such a hulking motor if you’re only going to be driving round the borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

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3. Range Rover Velar: It looks nice, but can it go off-road too

Unlike many of the new, cheaper entrants into the SUV market, Jaguar Land Rover has made a concerted effort to ensure that Range Rovers can still go off-road without giving up at the sight of a first pebble on a country track.

A double-wishbone front suspension system is based on sports car designs, and allows for heightened stiffness – a boon for steering and handling in difficult positions. The aluminium body, as mentioned previously, is great for saving weight, so the Velar is surprisingly nippy over gravel and mud.

The suspension systems are, overall, fairly impressive, enabling driving on the following gradients:

  • Approach angle: 28.89 degrees
  • Breakover angle: 23.5 degrees
  • Departure angle: 29.5 degrees

It’s also worth noting that the suspension can lift the main body of the car upwards into an off-road position, protecting the undercarriage from jutting obstacles. This also means that the Velar offers a very impressive maximum wading depth of 650mm, and a peak ground clearance of 251mm.

There are multiple different off-road driving modes accessible, aside from the usual ‘Auto’, ‘Comfort’, and ‘Dynamic’. Probably the most useful is ‘Grass, Gravel, and Snow’, although ‘Mud and Ruts’ will find great use from anyone living on a rainy mountainside. There’s also Adaptive Dynamics, which monitors the wheel movement 500 times every second and varies the damping forces at all four corners of the vehicle, ensuring “optimised suspension stiffness” as JLR calls it.

And while not strictly an off-road capability, it’s worth mentioning at this point that all models are capable of towing a maximum weight of at least 2,400kg – but this rises to 2,500kg on select versions of the Velar.

4. Range Rover Velar Features: The most hi-tech Range Rover yet

For years, automakers have been battling it out in terms of in-car tech, and Jaguar Land Rover certainly hasn’t skimped with the latest Range Rover Velar.

For a start, there’s a wide array of driver-assistance systems either fitted as standard, or offered as an optional extra. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is one of the more useful assistance systems, and utilises a forward-facing stereo camera in the windscreen to monitor the road in front of the vehicle. If it detects an imminent collision, visual and audible warnings are launched and full braking is triggered automatically.

This stereo camera is also used for both the Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) functions. The camera will monitor road markings – as well as your use of indicators – to try and prevent you from drifting out of your lane. The LDW will issue a haptic warning through the steering wheel, while the LKA will actually apply counter-steering to pressure the vehicle inside the lane.

But it gets even more wacky: there’s a system called Driver Condition Monitoring that uses steering, throttle, and brake inputs – as well as lane departure – to determine if you’re tired. If it reckons you need a kip, a coffee cup symbol will show up in the instrument cluster to encourage you to either get some sleep or throw back a few espressos.

Other cool features including a heads-up display for the driver that shows speed (and local speed limits), adaptive cruise control, and parking assist systems.

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The infotainment system in the car is similarly cool, comprising of two high-definition touchscreens using JLR’s new Touch Pro Duo software. There are also rotary dials for a nice haptic feel, each of which has a built-in display inside them – and a 5-inch display between them. These infotainment systems can be customised to suit your needs and, although they take some getting used to, offer an effective way to manage your in-car tech.

As expect, Jaguar has fitted the Range Rover Velar out with Meridian speaker systems, with 17- and 23-speaker options available. There are two USB ports in the front and three 12V power sockets throughout the vehicle, although you can add a further 12V socket to the front and two more USB ports in the back for an optional fee. And the front seats have their own 20-way adjustment and heating, cooling and massage functions.

Range Rover Velar Preview: What is it like to drive?

I had a chance to spend two days driving the Range Rover Velar in Norway across both on-road and off-road surfaces. It’s not a huge amount of time, but I’ve been left with some prevailing thoughts about the car.

For a start, it’s really gorgeous, and the minimalist design makes it – at least in my opinion – the most attractive Range Rover available right now. The Evoque’s design is starting to feel a little tired, and the Range Rover Sport does little to stand out from the crowd, but the Velar is certainly a head-turner – and was very popular amongst the Norway locals.

The interior of the car is also a real work of art, with a large and attractive infotainment system, spacious seating arrangements, and plenty of options to improve comfort. The materials used all feel very premium, and there’s no mistaking the fact you’re sitting in a luxury Range Rover.

As far as driving on tarmac goes, there’s not much to say. The whole point of an SUV is that the ride is very smooth on normal roads, and the Velar glides along as expected. It felt reasonably dynamic on the road, which is likely a result of the lightweight chassis and highly customisable ride options, and there was sufficient responsiveness in the throttle and braking systems.

Off-road, the Velar shined much more. Setting the vehicle to ‘Muds and Ruts’ and raising the suspension height allowed me to traverse very steep, damp, rocky mountainsides and fast-flowing streams with no bother. Cruise control systems and driver assist cameras – in partnership with the off-road, all-terrain mode – meant that ascending quickly across seriously rough terrain was extremely simple.

Overall, I’m convinced that the Velar is going to quickly become one of the most popular Range Rover models. Like the Evoque, it offers a standout design, but you feel much more as though you’re driving a proper SUV. The latter perk is going to become increasingly valuable to car buyers as more and more low-grade SUVs flood the market in the coming years. Of all the Range Rover models, I daresay the Velar is the most fun and well-rounded.

Range Rover Velar Price and Release Date

The Range Rover Velar goes on sale from summer 2017, and will be priced from £44,830 on-the-road.

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What do you think of the new Range Rover Velar? Let us know in the comments.