Driven: Range Rover Velar
That’s Sanskrit for unparalleled and you could not have missed that word, splashed in the Devnagiri script, on billboards announcing local assembly of the Velar. It’s one of the rare instances of an element of Indian-ness being added to the communication of a luxury car and as for the word — it is so apt. Nothing looks like the Velar. The design, in particular its styling, really is unparalleled. What a head turner, even in white, the most unflattering colour for the Velar. The door handles sit flush with the body and pop out when required, the slim all-LED headlights look so sexy, the copper accenting on the R-Dynamic S trim (around the air dam of the sporty-spec bumper and bonnet louvres) are a neat touch but is lost in this colour, the pillars are blacked-out for the floating roof effect and — the best part! — the wheels are now 20-inchers that fill out the arches unlike our first examples that we tested last year.
The Velar we tested last year had the three-litre V6 diesel but that engine has been dropped altogether from the lineup and you now have the option of the Ingenium turbo-four engines, drinking either petrol or diesel. The one here is the P250 petrol and with 247bhp of power it does not feel out of its depth, delivering a claimed 0-100kmph sprint in 7.1 seconds together with a top speed of 217kmph. However what the numbers don’t tell you is that despite 365Nm of torque you really need to work the engine to get the Velar moving and I really do miss the effortlessness of the V6 diesel. And when you do work the engine, the fuel efficiency numbers drop worryingly to 6kmpl. The eight-speed box while smooth and unobtrusive does fumble at times, especially at low speeds.
As for the way it drives, the Velar shares its underpinnings with the Jaguar F-Pace but here it trades some handling prowess for comfort in keeping with the badge on the nose while adding serious off road ability to the mix. It remains a very nice SUV to drive, with the sense of theatre enhanced by the beautiful cabin with the dual touchscreens that wake up when you start the car, all-digital instrumentation and the massive panoramic sunroof. Much like the exterior, the interior too looks and feels like a concept car! And that remains the most compelling reason to recommend the Velar over the (bigger) SUVs you can get at this price.