One for the enthusiast: Range Rover Velar

October 01 2020
One for the enthusiast: Range Rover Velar

Second-hand Style, with Richard Cooke

SOME people see their car as no more than a white good, a means to an end. It takes you from A to B and back again.

These people buy Hyundais and Kias or, if they have lots of money, Teslas. And that’s fine; it frees up some time in their lives to think about other things. As a motoring enthusiast, I’m not quite sure what that might be though. Soft furnishings?

Having no interest in your conveyance also makes it easier to get rid of it when it starts to become unreliable. Your Tesla will, I can assure you. It’s made in America, for crying out loud.

I can forgive an unreliable car that I love many times over before getting rid of it. In fact it takes a pretty major failure (like a collapsing gearbox or an engine that drinks more oil than petrol) before I trade in a really beautiful car.

And so to the Range Rover Velar. Is there a better looking SUV on the market, new or used? Or in fact ever?

I think the Velar ranks as a fabulous looking car, regardless of segment. And yet when I asked the owner of this month’s example his opinion of it (just six months after swapping it for a more expensive Porsche), his response was a worrying "I’m going to keep it, but…"

Oh dear. More in a moment, but first some history.

Velar’ was the codename Land Rover gave to the original Range Rover in 1967, and they actually put a Velar badge across the front and back to disguise it during testing. These original cars are now worth high six figures, if they ever come up for sale.

The current Velar is more affordable, but certainly not cheap. The chassis is shared with the Jaguar F-Pace, and engines range from a 180hp diesel to a 540hp petrol V8. I drove the mid-range 300hp diesel. All Velars have an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Drink in the looks before you drive it, note the long overhang at the back, which somehow works and gives the car a huge boot.

Door handles are flush and pop out of the bodywork on request, which is very cool. Will they one day fail though? Oh crikey, have some faith.

Inside it looks and smells expensive. The leather is lovely, and although the roofline is low (aiding the sleek looks) there is plenty of room front and rear.

On the move, and despite massive 21 inch wheels, this car rides beautifully. It is also very easy to place on the road, which I wasn’t expecting.

The reduced size over a ‘full’ Range Rover makes parking easier, not really to the detriment of interior space, and I suspect other road users won’t hate you quite so much. How can they when the Velar looks so wonderful?

The lane departure system was weird and distracting, and I would turn it off full-time if it were my car.

The three litre engine is effortless, the gearbox smooth and performance is mighty thanks, to a colossal 516 lb ft of torque (more than the petrol V8). I wouldn’t bother with either of the 4 cylinder engines (petrol or diesel), as on the used market you don’t pay much more for six cylinders. Their power and refinement suits the car much better.

And so to the caveat, which sadly applies in some measure to all Land Rover products: build quality.

Range Rovers don’t rust or blow their head gasket like they used to, but they do still have electrical gremlins that Japanese and German rivals don’t. This particular car has suffered from a sat-nav screen that goes wappy, Bluetooth that refuses to recognise your phone (that the car won’t even charge unless you ask very nicely) and a digital radio that would have pushed me to justifiable homicide by now. When you select a different station, it insists on then playing a snippet of all stations in between. Madness!

And yet I forgive it everything because of those looks. Could you?

Range Rover Velar, 2017 – date. What to pay: £40k for a 2018 model, 13k miles