Velar might seem an odd name for a Range Rover to the uninformed.
What does it mean? Velar was once the only name adorning the Range Rover. It was a device to hide the true identity of the first road-going prototypes and a special company was created to help the deception.
The whereabouts of many, if not all, of those cars is known to Range Rover enthusiasts and today they must be worth a fortune. Cars used on the press launch in Cornwall in 1970 have been advertised at £100,000 while any early Range Rover from the first two to three years of production is worth a small fortune, even unrestored.
Back when Range Rover’s 40th anniversary was marked, we took a then-current model down to Cornwall and made a visit to the Blue Hills mine where the cars were driven off-road during the launch.
The mine’s owners didn’t want us on site for fear of being over-run by 4×4 “enthusiasts” and who can blame them when you see the carnage visited on byways by modified 4x4s – and not just them but also by the farmers with huge tractors who blame the off-roaders for what they do themselves.
Anyway, with the 50th anniversary of the Range Rover approaching and 50 years of Velar closer still, applying the name to the latest Range Rover derivative makes a lot of sense. It is homage to the team who created the original cars, which were nothing like as vast as the current range toppers.
We parked next to a regular Range Rover Sport and the difference in stature between that and the Velar is obvious. Not that the Velar is small by any means, although the interior is maybe more snug than some buyers would like (although less snug than its Evoque sibling).
It’s really only a place for four adults and that low, coupe roofline means the seats have to be placed quite low, bringing greater emphasis to the high waist so obvious from the outside.
The rear view is also restricted by the low headlining necessary to accommodate the winding gear for the rollback blind on the glazed panoramic roof, a non-opening £1,115 option fitted to the test car. Despite this, there is maximum 1,731 litres of load volume with the seats folded.
Excitement ensued when the car was delivered thanks to its Firenze red metallic paint (another option, this time costing £725) as the first-ever Range Rover we owned was finished in Masai red back in the late ’80s. We bought it at a potato farm on the Hampshire/Sussex border when it was seven years old and could easily have grown a season’s crop in the boot because there was so much red mud inside it!
Our car was also adorned with 25 kgs of bullbar that was promptly detached; the Velar needs no such decoration as the styling more than draws the eye. We later bought a 1984 Range Rover Vogue with a deep front spoiler that could be detached to improve ground clearance, a messy job that meant it stayed in place to become as battered as the rest of the car. The Velar again does better with its clever air suspension that allows the car to lift and then rise again when conditions get difficult just by using the terrain selector in the dash that switches drive response to suit different ground conditions.
It’s sophisticated stuff, controlled by a touch screen that makes up the front of the centre console and is set beneath another touch screen that swivels outwards as the ignition is triggered. The lower touch screen is in front of the gear selector that rises from the console simultaneously as the top screen moves – in-car ballet that will impress.
Under the bonnet of the test car was the three litre V6 twin turbo diesel that suits such a car. It brought the same 32.5 mpg average as the Land Rover Discovery 2.0 Ingenium diesel we tested in the autumn but the V6 feels much more sophisticated and therefore a better application for cars such as this, as its performance figures clearly show.
All those touch screens may seem like a nightmare, especially as the car ages, but talking to a computer engineer while we had the car brought the reassurance that touchscreens are actually quite cheap to replace because it’s the glass rather than what’s behind them that causes problems.
The Velar is the exciting ultimate development of the Range Rover, compact enough to be usable, stylish enough to be desirable, capable enough to be your ultimate reliable friend.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE D300
Does it fit your ego…
0-62 mph: 6.5 secs
Top speed: 150 mph
Bhp: 300 @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 700 Nm @ 1500 rpm
…and your wallet…
Combined: 44.1 mpg
CO2 emissions: 167 g/km
Best bits: an Evoque for grown-ups