The Range Rover Velar is the best looking of the current range of luxury roving SUVs. The baby Evoque even adopted most of the Velar’s styling cues in its update a couple of years ago, but the Velar still looks fresh and is arguably more futuristic and sleeker than its bigger brothers, though remains as elegant as its elevated siblings.
In the latest guise it has received a series of improvements including better infotainment – you can pair two phones via Bluetooth, Spotify is integrated, there’s over-the-air updates and artificial intelligence suggests comfort features, recommends music and even guesses who you want to call next (on the hands-free of course!)
Oh, and there’s one other thing – a new Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) petrol engine. Badged the P400e, this is a remarkable powertrain that combines a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing about 300bhp and 400NM, which is then combined with a 105kW electric motor giving another 275NM. The electric motor alone can provide a 33-mile range (it takes about 30 minutes to charge to 80% from a fast charger) and get the car up to 87mph.
There’s a EV mode to drive on electric power only, or you can run it as a hybrid and alternatively there is a ‘save’ mode that keeps the EV capability for when you might need it later in town for example.
The total powertrain of the petrol-electric hybrid provides about 400bhp and 640NM of torque which means the Velar P400e is able to accelerate from rest to 60mph in 5.1 seconds (which until fairly recently was only the domain of ‘super SUVs’) and reach a top speed of 130mph. Fuel consumption is quoted as 130mpg, though that’s not real-world by any stretch. Emissions however are usefully low at 49g/km.
The batteries don’t seem to encroach too much on the practicality – unlike in the Jaguar F-Pace P400e (fitted with the same drivetrain) where the boot floor is raised and ends up with an awkward incline to the tailgate lip that means all your tomatoes will roll out and smash into the ground when you remote open the back after having been shopping.
The Velar appears to retain a flat boot, decent cargo space, and a deep bin under the floor. The rear seats are entirely capable of accommodating a couple of versions of 6ft 2in me sitting behind two other mes in front. Up front, the new touch screen seems to erase the need for much switchgear and is genuinely intuitive to use. There’s a proper gear lever and cameras everywhere – including under the front of the car to give you a ‘see-through’ bonnet when traversing unknown precipices while off-roading.
Which of course it is abundantly competent at, as you’d expect from anything with the Land Rover green oval badge. But you don’t really want to be taking this slick SUV into muddy bogs, you want to be cruising the city lights, pulling up outside posh places and, as something of a bonus, chasing down and overtaking hot hatches on brisk B-road blasts. All of which the Velar does very well indeed. The only criticism to be levelled at this car, and only because of a direct comparison to its Jaguar cousin, is that the artificial engine aural accompaniment is more exciting and enticing in the F-Pace. But that’s just being really picky.