Ultra-posh version of Range Rover’s ultra-posh road-biased SUV
With the Velar, Land Rover says it’s made the Range Rover into a driver’s car. Traditionally, that’s firmly been sister company Jaguar’s role, but such is the way of brand expansion, one of the world’s most renowned off-road brands is having a go at providing plentiful on-road fun.
Trouble us, up to now, we’ve been a bit disappointed by it. Lower-range engines have proven a bit mediocre, the chink in the Velar’s armour. Can a top-spec supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine transform its fortunes? We spent some time in a First Edition P380 model to find out.
Range Rover Velar P380 First Edition
Engine: 3.0-litre, V6, supercharged, petrol
Torque: 332lb ft
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Kerb weight: 1884kg
Top speed: 155mph
CO2/tax band: 214g/km
Land Rover will only sell the Velar First Edition during the first year of production. This one is priced at a whopping £85,450, which is fully £15,240 more than a regular P380, although it does have a lengthy list of added extras to reflect this, head-up display, air suspension and All Terrain Progress Control ‘off-road cruise control’ among them.
But all Velar get a fantastic array of digital displays inside as standard. The infotainment system is superb, bettering even the standard-setting setups of the new Audi Q5; it’s initially not wholly intuitive to use, but get used to it and it’s a genuine treat to use.
It’s a roomy and very classy interior, packed with quality surfaces and soft-touch materials. The seats are luxurious and there’s loads of space front and rear: passengers may actually find it even more desirable than the driver, such is the level of comfort on offer.
The engine is a big improvement over other Velars driven to date. Shared with the Jaguar F-Pace S, the 375bhp V6 motor is paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and drives the rear wheels most of the time, switching drive to the fronts when it detects a loss of traction.
It’s a great performer, even if it does sound quieter and less dramatic than the Jag. The gearbox is also a slick-shifter. The biggest grip we have with it is the hefty fuel consumption. Even on a gentle B-road run, we averaged little more than 21mpg, and that was an indicated figure – the reality was probably much worse…
It doesn’t handle as keenly as the Jag either, although the ride improves as a result: if you’re looking for composure rather than dynamic prowess, this is the JLR SUV for you. It’s very easy to drive and effortless to ride in. It’s just a pity the steering doesn’t have the feel of the Jag, or Porsche’s arch-rival to this duo, the Macan.
It’s better than either off-road, of course. Some things never change with a Land Rover. Ground clearance can’t be matched by any rival and it will happily wade into eye-opening depths of water as well.
Overall, the niche for this expensive Velar is a bit of a narrow one. The price is whopping and for most people, a lesser model would make more sense. Keen drivers will prefer an F-Pace or Macan as well. Still, for some, we have no doubt this ultra-posh Velar will prove just the ticket. The fact it’s the best version we’ve yet tested helps ease any earlier disappointments.