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What do we have here?
We have the Range Rover Velar HSE R-Dynamic P300. This means Land Rover has now plumbed in a 296bhp version of its 2.0-litre turbocharged Ingenium petrol engine into a range that already includes a 247bhp version of the same engine, a 375bhp supercharged V6 P380, a 296bhp V6 diesel D300 and a 237bhp 4cyl diesel D240.
Confused? Essentially Land Rover is plugging a niche in the Velar range for those who are diesel-adverse, don’t want a full-fat supercharged V6, but find 247bhp a little underwhelming. As I said… niche.
How do the numbers stack up?
Firstly there’s the price - £67,380 for this top-spec HSE R-Dynamic model we drove - £2,500 more than a P250 in the same spec. That’s £50 per extra horsepower. Or look at it this way, for only £3,000 more you can have the V6 diesel D300, Top Gear’s top pick when it comes to Velars. Oddly, upgrading from a P300 to a V6 diesel engine in a Discovery sets you back just £600. Clearly, everything costs a bit more in the world of Range Rover.
Moving on to performance. This P300 will do 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds, that’s 0.7 seconds faster than the P250, 0.5 seconds faster than the D300 and a mere 0.3 seconds slower than the P380. In the real word, where you don’t tend to launch yourself to 62mph at every opportunity, those are fairly negligible differences.
What about fuel consumption?
Glad you asked. Land Rover claims economy and CO2 emissions of 36.2mpg and 178g/km for the P300, that’s compared to 44.1mpg and 167g/km for the D300 and 48.7mpg and 154g/km for the most frugal D240 model. However, as we know from running a V6 diesel Discovery for six months, Land Rover LIES. The Disco’s currently returning around 24mpg, waaaay below its claimed figures. During our few days with the P300 Velar (all spent in London) we struggled to stay above 20mpg, which is frankly atrocious.
To be fair, smaller capacity, turbo petrol engines rarely work in bigger heavier cars, because to move anywhere you need to stay on boost and in doing so destroy your mpg. On paper then it’s hard to make a watertight case for the P300, unless it’s utterly superb to drive…
Well go on then, what’s it like to drive?
Smooth, quiet, everything you’d expect from super-sleek Velar. It’s a great fit in other words, combining near silent cruising with a decent turn of pace. By comparison the grumbly 4cyl diesel sounds like a tractor and while the V6 diesel is smooth and packed with all sorts of thrusty torque, the P300 always feels a little lighter on its feet, a fraction more willing to turn in.
But the Velar is still not a car for any sort of childish shenanigans. It’s about floating serenely through the world in a first-class bubble. Go for the petrol engine and the isolation chamber effect is only amplified.
Tell me about that interior…
It’s wonderful and infuriating in equal measure. The Luxtec and suedecloth trim is beautiful and actually makes leather look cheap, but lacks the wipe-clean properites of cow hide (parents of the world will be nodding silently at this point). The quality of finish and first impressions of JLR’s spangly new touch Pro Duo infotainment set up is equally high-end. “Yes, this is a car designed for the modern person, like me,” you say to yourself as you climb in.
Unfortunately I found operating the system, be it by random jabs at the central touchscreens or via the annoyingly unresponsive thumb touchpads on the wheel, frustrating and needlessly complicated. If technology is all about making our lives easier, this system has missed the mark.
So, a miss then?
Overall, no, this is still a handsome, beautifully designed SUV and the serenity is only enhanced by this punchy but polite 296bhp 2.0-litre engine. Shame the number-crunching makes it hard to recommend. If you really want it, go for it, if not then stretch to the V6 diesel. As you were, then.