Land Rover Range Rover Velar Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Car Review

Land Rover Range Rover Velar review

£44,350 - £66,945
Published: 09 Jun 2021


What is it like to drive?

To keep the Velar on pace with rivals, Land Rover has totally overhauled its engine range. And the buzzword, as you’d expect in our changing times, is ‘hybrid’. The straight-six petrol and diesel offerings are now offered with 48-volt hybrid boost assistance, to reduce turbo lag and enhance throttle response. You know the drill.

Electro-zap doesn’t make the Velar’s engines night-and-day snappier than before, but the D300 is a great all-rounder: smooth, quiet, easy-going and good for 0-60mph in 6 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.

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Land Rover claims 38mpg – we got 32, 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 most appropriate engine that the Velar was born to cradle. Of course, this is probably the last diesel engine Jag-Land Rover will ever develop. If so, it’s a masterpiece to sign off on.

Even the four-cylinder D200 diesel is a decent thing. Nothing like the performance of the D300 of course, but for cruising around it's more than enough engine. Keep the revs low and it's quiet too. You may see over 40mpg on the motorway, where the D200 acquits itself rather well, too. 

So, what’ll take the diesels' place? Plug-in powertrains, of course. The headline act for Velar v1.2 is the P400e – not to be confused with the P400, which is a 400bhp straight-six petrol offering, sitting above the P340 engine in the range. Anyway, the P400e teams a 300bhp four-cylinder engine with a 17.1kWh battery pack beneath the boot floor, fed from a 7kW on-board charger that’ll juice up to 80 per cent in half an hour from a public rapid charger or 1hour 40mins on your home wallbox.

Teamed with a 140bhp e-motor, the Velar’s P400e powertrain sends it from 0-60mph in a very respectable 5.1 sec, and gives official test results of 130mpg with CO2 emissions rated at 49g/km. Now, if you’re PHEV-literate you’ll know such numbers are a fiction unless you allow the engine to switch on less often than a student flat’s central heating, but even so, we found an indicated 75mpg was possible on a 30-mile test route, which conveniently consumed all of the battery reserves.

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Enough stats. What you need to know is this is a good PHEV, not a token one. You don’t get the sense this is merely an underpowered petrol car with the motor from a stubble shaver shoved in as an afterthought. Performance on the e-motor alone is adequate, and the handover moment between electric and petrol is seamless. There’s a real sense the electric half of the equation is pulling its (considerable) weight and adding potency to the powertrain, while keeping engine revs low so the fossil-fuel burning bit doesn’t come over all reedy and strained.

Yes, its feels heavier in the thickset steering and the body control, and you can sense the ride isn’t as deftly damped as a regular Velar. It’s a bit of a shame given this car’s styling only works on enormous ferris-wheel sized alloys, but not a dealbreaker. The brake pedal isn’t typically mushy like some hybrids too. If you’re doing city work, this is the Velar to have.

Another well-resolved aspect is how you interact with the P400e’s modes. VW Group SUVs see fit to bury their driver modes in a touchscreen sub-menu dungeon where you’ll never find them. Land Rover has reserved a handy slab of touchscreen real estate for the EV Mode, Hybrid Mode and Charge Save Mode buttons, so they’re always at hand to make best use of your chosen power source. Well played.

Don’t come to the Velar for Porsche Macan-like 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 remote and isolated. In fact, a Range Rover Sport, with its adaptive anti-roll bars, can actually feel more lithe and engaging.

Acting like this is just one pole of its abilities. The other pole 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, the head-up display shows 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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