Range Rover has added a fourth model to its stable, the Velar, which joins the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Evoque, and slots in-between the latter two.
Although the Range Rover might have started life as a vehicle with an interior that you could hose down when muddy, it has always been a beltingly good-looking vehicle. (One of the originals was displayed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris as an “exemplary work of industrial design”.) The Velar has taken this trend of attractive family genes and run with it, becoming a Range Rover that, like the Evoque, is more about style than anything else. Or “Form with function”, as the Landy advertising guys put it.
OK, so we know it’s a good-looking vehicle. But how is it when you delve a little deeper?
The Velar has impeccable road manners, as you’d expect of a true British gentleman, but that is a given when you drive a Range Rover. There are four engine options in six different states of tune available locally, and they fit the new Landy naming-conventions of P or D, for petrol or diesel, and then the horsepower output. So, there’s the 2.0-litre P250 (184kW), the 2.0-litre P300 (221kW), the 3.0-litre P380 (280kW), the 2.0-litre D180 (132kW), the 2.0-litre D240 (177kW) and the 3.0-litre D300 (221kW). The pick of the bunch is the D240, which has as much power and torque as you would ever require, and is immensely refined and quiet. All Velars have an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.
The interior is also splendid − once again, as you’d expect of a Range Rover. Four trim levels are available (Base, S, SE and HSE), but there is also a vast array of options. Our test vehicles were all HSE models, i.e. top of the pops, but each still had around R270 000 worth of extras fitted.
And the off-road ability? I can’t lie – I was disappointed that on the launch we weren’t given the chance to engage the off-road systems at all. We drove dirt roads that even in the wet wouldn’t trouble a Citi Golf, but most of the time was spent on tar.
On paper, though, the Velar has most of what it takes to be a typical barnstorming Rangie. Most, you say? Yip – the wheels and tyres will be the predictable limiting factor if you want to try out your Velar in the rough. The smallest rims available are 18-inch on the base model, and 19-inch on the S (or better) trim. Even on the 18-inch wheels, which take a recommended 235/65R18 tyre, you’d be hard-pressed to find a decent all-terrain LT tyre. But hey, that’s not going to bother most potential Velar buyers.
It does come with Terrain Response 2, an active locking rear differential, a wading depth of 600mm (650mm with air suspension), maximum ground clearance of 251mm (again, with air suspension) and approach, departure and ramp angles of 28.89°, 29.5° and 23.5° respectively.
One of the things I like most about the Velar range is that you can customise it to match your needs. Any engine can be had with any trim level and any option, unlike the trend in which you have to pay for expensive trim levels when you want a powerful engine. I wish more manufacturers would follow the Velar example, although it does mean a possible slight delay in delivery times.
Prices start at R947 700 and go up to R1 356 900 for the supercharged P380 HSE. At these prices, it will be interesting to see if the Velar cannibalises sales from the Land Rover Discovery, which starts at R980 000, and the Range Rover Sport, which starts at R1 079 500.