Range Rover Velar: Changing the future of off-road cars

Does neutral Switzerland have an army? And do they carry knives? Although if their knife was a car…


This article first appeared in Attitude issue 301, October 2018.

People choose their cars for all kinds of reasons. Many, as they would white goods: it’s a brand I’ve heard of, has the key features I’m looking for, a decent warranty and is a fair price.

For others, appearance matters: it’s an expression of my personality, I want to make a statement, I’d not wear the “wrong” thing so I’m not going to drive the wrong car.

And then some, like me, are enthusiasts. We buy with the heart as well as with the head. I know a good drive from a bad drive, appreciate the designer’s art and have a view on ride/handling compromise that would see me judged a car nerd.

But that’s OK, because in the way everyone makes an assumption about dog owners on the basis of their chosen pooch (mine’s a chi-chi, a chihuahua/Chinese-crested cross, knock yourself out) I, in turn, will absolutely judge you by your car.

Up to, and including, the old adage regarding the size of a gentleman’s appendage. So what does a Range Rover Velar say about its owner? Well, it’s complicated. It’s an offroader.

For people who live in the town. It’s a tough cookie. But looks like a Design Museum exhibit. It can wade through water deep enough to swim in. There is tweed upholstery.

It’s a brilliant vantage point from which to cruise the urban jungle, but will survive the actual jungle. Prices start from a bit more than £44,000 but can rise to well beyond £60k with a few key options.

Glorious contradictions all, but contradictions nonetheless. And yet here’s the thing: nobody ever sniffed at the merits of a Swiss Army knife.

Especially not at a barbecue with plenty of beer and wine but no bottle opener or corkscrew. The Velar, rather brilliantly, is that useful, and slips into both your life and your psyche with consummate ease.

It’s smaller than big brothers Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and larger than baby brother Evoque. So three bears’ porridge style, it’s just right – room for five to have an adventure, easy enough to place in traffic.

You sit SUV-tall, but within a coupé profile, so the driving position is commanding but relaxed. And the high-style, Conran-meetsIKEA cabin is a joy to behold, replete with a sustainable (made from recycled plastics), softtouch Kvadrat upholstery that’s a must-have.

Albeit as a premium price option. Armed with the top-flight 300bhp diesel powerplant as tested, the Velar is a sweet drive, too: quick off the mark, quiet on the move, punchy in the mid-range and feeding back through primary controls that are as light and responsive as the eight-speed automatic gearbox is seamless.

It’s a complete piece. Which is rather the point. People choose cars for all kinds of reasons. But this one is a rare sweet spot where the whole is, truly, greater than the sum of its parts. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without one.

Range Rover Velar D300 3.0-litre // twinturbocharged V6 diesel // 300bhp // 516lb/ft torque // 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds // top speed 150mph // eight-speed automatic // up to 42.8mpg // 175g/km CO2 // £50,990 //