The suave SUV

K Shivraj
Saturday, 10 March 2018

Comfortable, refined and exciting, the Range Rover Velar is perhaps the most charming SUV in the market

Placed in between the Evoque and Sport, the Velar is the fourth model in the Range Rover line-up. Sharing the platform with the Jaguar F-Pace, the SUV uses aluminium extensively for its construction. With wheelbase similar to that of the F-Pace, the Velar stands out for its looks. Defining the charming form of the SUV is its relative low silhouette. It is supported by the flow of the roof, the backed-out upper half with a prominent ridge around it, the high sides with ‘flush-fitted’ door handles, and the large wheel arches. Measuring 4.8-metre in length, the Velar has immense visual appeal that reflects from its taut skin and crisp lines. The ‘flush-fitted’ door handles pop out when the car is unlocked. Once on the move, they recede to assume their ‘flush-fit’ position. 

Inside, the Velar looks cutting edge. Without letting go of the interior that a Range Rover has come to be known for, the Velar makes clever use of technology to take it to the next level. The technological highlight is the Touch Pro Duo. An infotainment system, the interface of the Touch Pro Duo comprises not one but two high definition 10-inch touchscreens located at the centre of the dashboard. 

The top unit is electrically adjustable for angle and helps control routine functions like navigation, phone or audio. The bottom screen provides access to alter settings for climate control and drive modes. The resolution of the bottom screen is good enough to watch a movie. The drive-mode graphics on the screen are brilliant. Requiring the driver to take eyes off the screen, the bottom screen is for less frequent use.   

The digital instrument cluster is high-resolution and the steering buttons are touch-sensitive. A head-up display is optional. Ironically, the infotainment system does not include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The robust build of the interior, complemented by a neat dashboard, provides charging sockets and a number of storage spaces. 

Not exactly tall, the Velar has occupants sitting at a good height. The small rear windows do rob the rear occupants of some view, the optional full-length glass roof does compensate. The high door sill makes access to the rear seat a bit tricky. For two, there’s good leg room on offer, but third person may find it uncomfortable to sit. The seat is supportive and the back rest electrically recline-adjustable. The split-folding rear seats offer the ability to have good storage space. 

Available with three engine options — 180bhp 2.0-litre diesel, 300bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, and 250bhp 2.0-litre petrol, the Velar in the petrol guise comes across as highly refined. Even on the move, not much noise or vibrations are felt. Strong and linear all the way up to 6,500rpm redline, the engine presents the SUV with a strong performance. 

Extending a feeling that it is larger than its displacement capacity suggests, the engine responds quickly to changes. It often gives an impression that there’s some more power on offer, and makes tasks like overtaking easy. The eight-speed auto-box does its job well. Manual over-ride with the aid of paddles adds to the pleasure of driving the Velar. 

Weighing a good 1.9-tonnes, the Velar comes with independent suspension all-round. The front is made up of double wishbone, and the rear consists of a multi-link arrangement. 

Air suspension is available on the V6 version. On versions like this, which make do with steel coil springs, the ride quality is good even though it may not be like what the bigger Range Rovers offer. Broken surfaces do induce a pronounced side-to-side movement, and the shock of the expansion joints is felt to some extent. Dynamic mode is useful when travelling over such surfaces. 

At low speeds there’s a feel of firm edge to the ride. Fitted with a rear biased all-wheel-drive system as standard, and with a Terrain Response system too, the Velar, responds quickly to direction changes.   

Priced upwards of Rs 80 lakhs, the Velar is perhaps the most charming looking SUV in the market today. The high-tech stuff found in the cabin has the ability to make other luxury SUVs feel and look old. 

Pros: Styling, technology, premium feel and comfort
Cons: Price

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