Ride high on the Range Rover Velar SUV
The Velar is another example of what are called ‘crossovers’, being a smaller SUV (though this one is on the larger side), a vehicle that compromises off-road performance for better on-road performance, economy, and comfort. Range Rover does not pretend that the Velar should be one’s first choice for going on an African safari or trekking to the North Pole; it prizes luxury and comfort over off-roading. Overall it is an exceptionally well-built vehicle with many well-thought-out features, and a fine choice for someone seeking a luxury vehicle that can work well in a rough environment.
In terms of performance, the top-of-the-line model is absolutely above averag. Its top speed is a somewhat frightening at 155 miles per hour (250 km/h) on the road, and can go from 0–60 miles per hour in an impressive 5.7 seconds (anything under 6 seconds qualifies as a ‘performance car’). The power is provided by a supercharged 3.0 liter V-6 engine – a variant of the engine used in Jaguar’s F-type sports car – pumping out 380 HP (283 kW), transferred to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission, which comes as standard and is well-suited to long road journeys. And, needless to say, power is sent to all four wheels; all-wheel drive is standard to all models of the Velar.
Although there are more powerful six-cylinder engines in the market, that 380 horsepower is still more than enough to ‘get the job done’ – whether one is cruising along the German Autobahn at 120 miles per hour or towing a speedboat to a cabin-on-the-lake for a weekend. To that end, torque – roughly speaking, the amount of power the vehicle can put down onto the road, not merely the amount of power the engine is producing – is really a better measure of ‘power’ in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, which is ostensibly meant for off-roading or towing. And there, the Velar is no slouch either. The V6 model produces a healthy 332 foot-pounds of torque (447 Newton-meters).
There are two other options for engines, but these exist largely so Range Rover can comply with fleet fuel-efficiency standards in North America and Europe. Nevertheless, one can have the Velar with a sensible and economical 2.0 litre, in-line four-cylinder, petrol-powered engine putting out an adequate 247 HP or a Velar with a four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine producing 180 HP. The diesel is not at all a bad option if one is seeking a vehicle, which can be run ragged for months or years without maintenance.
No matter the choice of engine, riding in comfort is assured; the suspension works well on the road, keeping the body-roll to a minimum while still smoothing out bumps with subtlety.
Really though, the Velar, which weighs more than 4,600 pounds (2090 kg), is at its best with a V6. With 380 HP on tap, accelerating onto the motorway is a breeze, making high-speed cruising comfortable.
Of course the big question about performance is how well the Velar does off-road? Here it is important to have realistic expectations. Range Rover makes no bones about this being a luxurious road-vehicle which can also work off-road. But it’s not a dedicated all-terrain vehicle. That said, it isn’t bad either. The suspension strikes a good compromise between ride-comfort and keeping the vehicle planted firmly on the ground, absorbing the bumps of a road (or trail) well without feeling like one’s driving a half-filled waterbed.
On the whole, the Velar is competent in moderate off-road conditions – be it muddy, washed out trails or a slightly rocky field. Realistically, the Velar’s ‘off-road’ capabilities are designed with roads in mind – unpaved roads that is, or roads slick with snow, ice, or rain, and the Velar handles that just fine. Certainly, if one seeks to take this up into snowy mountains for skiing, it won’t fail to impress!
Ride high on the Range Rover Velar SUV
And there, the Velar shines. Its cargo space is good for a vehicle of its size, especially with the rear seats folded down. While it might be a bit tricky to get the alignment just right, there is enough space for two people and their ski equipment.
As important as the mechanics are the creature comforts on the inside, and the Velar ticks all the right boxes. As one would expect, the Velar comes with plush leather on the dashboard and the sits – an option well worth the added cost. The interior is simple and wonderful place full of small details that make it the luxury vehicle it is. The sleek door handles, in particular, made from a single piece of milled aluminium, are as wonderful to look at as they feel, and compliment the panel of aluminium between the armrest and the window sill.
Likewise, no luxury car is complete these days without an electronic touch-screen system controlling the entertainment and climate control. Although the Velar’s system isn’t perfect, it is still an adequate performer and comprehensive in its offerings – you won’t have any trouble connecting to Bluetooth or plugging in your iPod.
The seats are a firm but not bone-crushing, and won’t cause cramps on journeys. The wheel and pedals are well-positioned to make driving comfortable. When it comes to comfort, however, the most important measurement is probably how quiet the car is on the road. Here the Velar does marvellously; Car and Driver measured decibel levels in the car at 70 MPH and found road noise came out at 67 decibels – making the Velar the quietest car in its class!
Taken together, the Velar is a competent offering from Range Rover. Anyone who goes on long road trips regularly would be wise to snatch a Velar, since it is comfortable on the road, stylish and beautiful, and can keep going when the going gets rough. The Velar is the kind of car, in other words, you can drive off the road and onto the red carpet, and not feel out of place on either occasions!