Out on the Range

Whether it’s out on the African Savanna or tackling the muddy lanes of England the Range Rover Velar will keep your bottom warm and your feet dry while you are exploring. And once you’ve made it back to civilisation it will transport your children on the school run in relative luxury.

The Range Rover Velar is the mid-sized SUV in the Range Rover line-up fitting nicely between the Evoque and Sport in size and pricing. I spent a week with the Velar SE P250, a middle of road variant in the Velar range, which actually has one of the longest variant lists you’ll ever see. This was the week after I drove the BMW X4, so I was able to do somewhat of a comparison between the two

The Velar may be an elegant SUV, but it’s not afraid to get its wheel dirty. It has six drive modes, plus an Auto drive mode selection. The drive modes include Sand, Mud Ruts, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Comfort, Eco and Dynamic and are selected using the bottom of the two touchscreens where each one is accompanied by a different image. In Dynamic mode you can configure the engine, gear shift, steering and suspension between comfort and dynamic selection and the quick access button to open this is the racing helmet icon to the left of the bottom touchscreen.

My Velar had the 2-litre Si4 petrol engine and considering the Velar weighs anywhere upwards from 1,800kg it offers decent acceleration. The 184kW and 365Nm pull the Velar from zero to 100km/hr in 6.7 seconds. The official combined fuel consumption figure is 7.6L/100km using 95RON fuel and I achieved 12.4L/100km, which is a considerable difference and nearly two litres per 100km more than the similar petrol BMW X4.

The ride of the Velar is very smooth and comfortable; it absorbs the bumps well while not being ‘wallowy’. To assist with 4×4 driving the Velar has low traction launch, Wade Sensing for wading through streams and Drive Assist that gives you a camera view of the front of the car and front tyres. This is really good for navigating off-road tracks where there are obstacles you need to avoid.

Some of the design aspects which give the Velar the off-road advantage over other SUVs include rubber seals between the front and rear doors to prevent dust getting in. Plus the doors also extend all the way down the sills and have heavy duty looking rubber seals; I assume for keeping the water out when you are wading through a stream? They also stop your skirt or trousers getting dirty when you step in and out of the Velar.

Another hard wearing feature I liked was the plastic step that covers the entire sill area where children step into the rear seat; this would mean less carpet wear and easier to keep clean as anyone who has ever vacuumed car carpet will tell you this area gets very dirty. But on the cleaning downside the driver’s side mat is small and doesn’t cover a large area of the carpet due to angles of the floor, so not great for getting into the Velar with muddy shoes.

On the inside of the Velar there are plenty of luxury materials and finishes. The front seats are heated, with 8-way electrical adjustability with a memory function only on the driver’s side. They are covered in Luxtec (synthetic leather) and suedecloth and they are comfortable, but my initial reaction was that I preferred the seats in the X4 as they offered more side support and smelled better.

The driver’s dash is fully configurable and can be changed between full map view, one dial view, two dial view, media view or driver assist view. The display is clear and appealing to look at, but I noticed a water mark on the inside of the screen that was visible in some light. This is not something that bothered me, but those of you with perfectionist tendencies may be thoroughly irritated by the fact you can’t clean it off.

This Velar was fitted with a full suedecloth steering wheel option ($940) and I didn’t like it. I do not mind suede or Alcantara at the ‘9’ and ‘3’ positons, but it felt odd having in all the way around and this would not be an option box I would tick. The other annoying feature on the steering wheel was the buttons that control the infotainment selections were not intuitive for navigating the menus and I found myself selecting the wrong option multiple times and getting frustrated with the system.

The centre console design is clean, in front of the arm rest there is one cup holder and a mobile phone holder, but press the Land Rover button next the gear selector and you reveal an additional cup holder for the passenger. Under the arm rest is a shallow storage cubby with two USBs, one HDMI, one SIM card slot and one 12V outlet to charge or connect pretty much every smart phone or audio device you own.

The infotainment system has two screens, the one at the top is for sat nav, communication (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and audio applications, while the one below displays the climate control and drive mode selection info. The screen can either have a black or white background; black looks better, but white doesn’t show fingerprints.

The Velar has a four way climate control system with separate temperature controls for both rear passengers and air vents in the rear of the centre console and B pillars. You can control the rear climate settings from the front and lock them so the children cannot change them from the back – a feature that I think any parent will approve of! This is something I was critical about on the F-PACE because it had four way climate control, but with no way for parents to lock out the rear climate settings.

The two outer rear seats are also heated, much to my children’s delight and have electric recline something my son enjoyed playing with a lot. They have a 40/20/40 split fold system for flexible storage of items in the boot or an arm rest with drink holders can be folded down from the centre seat. There are two ISOFIX and three rear tether child restraint points and the seats are comfortable for two adults to sit in, but having three adults in the back would be a bit squished. Also the centre console protrudes into the rear foot well area making it more difficult to fit an adult in and this could also be something that children may accidentally damage when they are getting in and out of the Velar.

Enjoying the life on the inside of the Velar is easy as there were no rattles, no engine noise and very little road noise. The huge sunroof provides occupants with a great view of the passing scenery above. Why is this important? Well if your children start getting antsy on a long trip you can open the sun roof and get them to look at the clods and describe the shapes they can see.

The boot volume in the Velar feels smaller than X4 using my weekly shop as a guide. Also the gap between the back of the vehicle and the boot floor is wider on the Velar than the X4, making it harder to reach in and load the groceries. There is a 12V outlet in the boot and a reduced section alloy spare tyre ($530 option), whereas the BMW X4 had no spare tyre at all.

The 8-speed automatic transmission was a bit lazy on downshift and this Velar only had standard cruise control and it did not have offer engine braking while the cruise control was engaged and I was going downhill. Driver assist features were also thin on the ground in the Velar I drove and only included autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning. Also it only had a rear view camera to assist with parking, but it does have a washer nozzle to clean the camera when it gets dirty, which is a very smart feature.

The Range Rover Velar SE P250 is $90,662 plus on-road costs and as tested it was $99,592 plus on-roads. Mine was fitted the premium black exterior pack ($4,500) and on/off road pack that including Terrain Response 2, All Terrain Progress Control and Configurable Dynamics and 21” split-spoke wheels that replace the 18s ($1,430).

The Range Rover Velar will take you off-road, but you will not be out of your comfort zone with the technology available to keep you safe while you are out on the range. There’s also enough luxury and on-road driving ability to keep you satisfied the rest of the time.

Visit your preferred Land Rover retailer for more information about the Velar.

Pros Cons
A grand British driving experience Poor fuel efficiency
Multiple off-road driving modes Lack of real leather feel and smell
Off-roading design and safety features Minimal active driver safety aides

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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