The Velar may be a great looking car teaming with new technology and plush leather seats, but the real question is how does it drive? (Read Part 1 covering the overall appearance here!) The Range Rover Vogue drives like you would expect, it’s quiet, comfortable and you just gently waft along with a feeling of luxury and refinement, looking down on mere mortals from your elevated driving position. The Sport is just what it says on the tin really, a tighter, sportier feel but still keeping that lovely “Range Rover” feel and the Evoque is also very good. What it lacks in height it more than makes up for with its modern boutique hotel-style interior. So how does the Velar feel?
The main platform on the Velar is shared with both the Jaguar F-Pace SUV and the Jaguar XE saloon, and both of these cars are great driver-focused cars so straight away you would expect the Velar to offer up the same feel, but how does this fit in with Range Rover’s luxury approach to the world? When I drove the F-pace back in 2016 I must be honest, I didn’t want to like it. I have always loved Jaguar cars from their painfully beautiful racing cars of yesteryear right up to their current offerings with the fantastic F-Type and hugely successful XF range, but Jaguar makes road cars. Land Rover makes the muddy, high-up ones and Jaguar make the low-down road ones… that’s just how it is. However, my mind was changed very quickly. Its F-type/XE derived chassis made it feel like a really good road car, but then you also had that commanding height advantage that everyone seems to want these days. My other half also liked it, and she doesn’t care about cars, so it must have been good. With that in mind, I was genuinely interested, and a bit excited to see how this Velar would perform.
Now it may be because I was driving the D300 diesel model, not the more powerful P380 supercharged V6 petrol model which may have offered more of a thrill, but the Velar just didn’t “wow” me behind the wheel. I know that that really isn’t the point of a Range Rover and I also know that 99% of its buyers will not care as it does everything a Range Rover-badged SUV should very well, but to take such a great platform that offers so much feedback and control and turn it into a £78,000 sofa on wheels just seems like a bit of a shame. It could have been so much more, however, I do also understand that then it would risk being better than the Sport and so on and so on. It’s not all bad though, with the model I drove being the top spec R-Design HSE D300, it came with air suspension, meaning it was height adjustable and very comfortable and had very little road noise and as a big(ish) SUV, it was very smooth and very pleasant to drive. The gearbox is the standard JLR 8-speed one that is now in most cars across the brand and it really is very good. The driving position is also very good, you sit nice and high up but the windscreen is sloped in a way that makes you feel lower down and closer to the action. The D300 unit is no slouch either, it pulls like a train and is lovely and quiet, not like my chuggy tractor of a Discovery. Braking and cornering were as expected, a bit wallowy and not the sharpest, but you get that with anything this high up and heavy, but again, it was still impressive. Although again, I feel the SV6 petrol model is probably a bit more fun in this area.
All in all, it’s a good car and like all things Range Rover, it will fly off the shelves, but if someone told me I had a choice between the Velar and the F-Pace, I’d have to take the Jag. It just gives you more to work with with regards to feel and driving experience. I also, rather controversially, think it has the edge on looks too. None of this matters though, as you will see hundreds, if not thousands, of these Velars clogging the streets up of Knightsbridge very, very soon.
Words and photos by James Ford.