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Car Review

Land Rover Range Rover Velar review

810
Published: 24 Aug 2023
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Before we get into that, let’s cover the engine choices. While rivals have narrowed their options and even chucked out diesel altogether, not here. The Velar's engine buffet table is still a long one.

Land Rover has stage by stage overhauled its engine range. A couple of years ago the original V6 diesel D300 gave way to a straight-six. Four-cylinder P250 petrol and D200 diesel options, and a P400 petrol six, bulk out the non-plugged range. Of these, only the P250 petrol goes without a 48 volt mild hybrid systems to shave off a few grammes of CO2.

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The D300 might not be fashionably fuelled but it's a great all-rounder: smooth, quiet, easy-going and good for 0-60mph in 6.1 seconds, and all-the in-gear shove you could ever realistically ask for in a two-tonne SUV. Wind it out a bit and it even generates a cultured six-pot growl.

How's fuel economy?

The WLTP measurement is 38.6mpg: we got 32mpg, and that was from an example just a few hundred miles old. Even if you have to shut your eyes and hold your nose when ticking the ‘diesel’ box on the configurator, there’s still a deep sense of ‘rightness’, of this being the engine that the Velar was born to cradle.

Even the four-cylinder D200 diesel is a decent thing. Not the performance of the D300 of course, but for cruising around it's more than enough engine, with a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds. Keep the revs low and it's quiet too. You may see over 40mpg on the motorway, where the D200 acquits itself rather well.

In 2021 a P400e came in, a plug-in hybrid. Two years later it had a slight battery boost so can now hit a notional 30 miles in e-mode. Unlike most PHEVs, this one can accept DC rapid charging as well as home AC.

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Any good?

It's smooth and quiet when driven by electromagnetic force of course, if not exactly swift – there's only so much 140 electric horses can do when pulling 2.3 tonnes of cart.

Many PHEVs hit you with an awful delayed thump as the petrol engine clutches in, but here it's a smooth process. It's quiet in petrol mode too, as there's active noise cancellation. And besides, the presence of a pretty torquey e-motor really does a grand job of bolstering mid-rev torque and cutting turbo lag. Petrol and electricity in tandem can send it from 0-60mph in a very respectable 5.1s.

Of course you'll only approach the official fuel consumption if you plug it in obsessively. But even without plugging, the hybrid operation does improve efficiency.

That said, the PHEV version is a couple of hundred kilos heavier than the P400 six-cylinder petrol, and feels it. The ride is a bit more turbulent, especially if you don't have the optional air suspension. At least the brake pedal isn’t typically mushy like some hybrids. If you’re doing city work, this is the Velar to have.

And the handling?

Don’t come to any Velar for agility. Like a proper Range Rover, it’s dignified and in command of most situations, with well-oiled accurate steering. If you’re in a real hurry, the sport mode does tauten the damping, lower the body and shift more power to the rear.

It doesn’t really want to be hoiked around tight corners like this, mind. It’s too heavy, remote and isolated. In fact, a Range Rover Sport, with its adaptive anti-roll bars, can actually feel more lithe and engaging. Also, Velars come as standard with all-weather tyres, not the dry-surface performance grippers some rivals get.

The ride is generally civilised and quiet, swallowing big bumps well. It's a relief from the thumpy, rocky progress of too many 'sports' crossovers. The air-suspended Velars are a step up from the steel-coil versions too.

The other pole of the Velar's CV is the off-road modes, raising it off the ground (if it’s specced with air springs), changing powertrain calibration and the traction and diff thresholds. It’s got wade sensing so it’ll ford a flood, and doors that wrap down around the sills so you don’t get mucky calves when you get in and out.

When you are in those modes, even the head-up display does its bit, showing axle articulation and inclination angles and diff lock status.

Oh, and when you take the PHEV off-road, you can enjoy the gorgeous tweet-tweet-rustle sounds of nature, as you ooze along on battery power, crushing everything in your path.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Land Rover Range Rover Velar 3.0 P400 HST 5dr Auto
  • 0-625.5s
  • CO2
  • BHP400
  • MPG
  • Price£71,745

the cheapest

Land Rover Range Rover Velar 2.0 D200 5dr Auto
  • 0-628.2s
  • CO2
  • BHP204
  • MPG
  • Price£45,515

Variants We Have Tested

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