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Range Rover Velar — long-term review

Just how utilitarian is the Range Rover Velar?

Specification:
Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE D300
Engine:
3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
Claimed MPG:
44.1mpg, 167g/km CO2
Performance:
6.5sec, 150mph
Weight:
2029kg
Price:
£67,740 / £72,145 as tested / £829 PCM

Towing. Roof-boxing. Hauling. The traditional tasks of a family SUV basically. The hard graft, the long yards. A couple of years back I ran a Discovery, and this was its bread and butter. Under duress, whether at the top of Mont Ventoux in gale force winds or pulling vans out of snowdrifts it never blinked. Not once. The infotainment was dire of course, but it worked like a shire horse.

I didn’t expect the same from the Velar. Too much the prissy urbanite, I thought. Somewhere along the lines the engineers would have had to compromise on their 4x4 values and accept this one played by a different set of rules. But last month it coped admirably with mountain bikes. And this month it’s played an absolute blinder.

Size first. I’d always thought the Velar was relatively small. Wrong. It’s low and trim which creates that impression, but in fact it’s only 75mm shorter than big brother Range Rover Sport. No wonder I’d been surprised with the amount I could fit in it. Back seats folded, a single mattress slid straight in. And the bed that went with it.

And being 150mm lower than a Sport at 1665mm made it relatively easy for the not-lofty Marriage clan to lift a roofbox on top when the passenger + luggage equation failed to add up. The side rails – a no cost option – can be either black or silver and are very neatly integrated so when you don’t have a great white whale of a Thule roofbox on top, your Velar still looks sleek.

Anyone used to towing will appreciate just how much of a luxury an electric towbar is. No scrabbling in the dirt under the rear bumper with 5kg of greasy steel. Instead, just press a button and fold your arms in happy satisfaction. £985 does sting, but only until you use it for the first time. Last month it was a bike rack, this month a whole trailer full of logs. The Velar tows as effortlessly as you’d expect from a big diesel with 516lb ft of torque. More than that it’s heavy enough at 2029kg that the tail can’t wag the dog and the towbar metalwork is well insulated so you don’t get the clanks and rattles back through the chassis.

So this is good, the Velar has passed every test. Except one. You see the boot opening button is sited down by your right knee, just below the flush-fitting slippery-metal press-for-on handbrake. Can you see where this is going? On two separate occasions recently I wondered why the boot was opening as I got out of the car. On the third occasion there was a wall edge right behind…

At first I thought this was Land Rover electrics, but then I realised that as I park and press the handbrake without thinking, my careless fingers have also been touching the boot open button. As a result I now have a scuff on the edge of the tailgate. My fault. But also: not exactly a great piece of button location. It’s hard to find when you do want it, easy to press when you don’t. 

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