Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover Velar - P380 First Edition
Land Rover models
Special exterior and interior, indulgent equipment list, syrupy and brisk supercharged V6, lovely steering, plush ride even on 22-inch wheels
Room for improvement
Now very expensive, could be faster and roomier, glitchy touchscreens, merely decent handling
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13 Dec 2017
THERE has arguably never been a better time to be Land Rover. As our more affluent nation snaps up a greater number of expensive cars and, in particular, premium SUV models, the British brand has become positioned to leverage its vast experience in building off-road-focused vehicles.
Land Rover, it would seem, has not been content with a segment-leading share of the $70K-plus large SUV class with its two-pronged Discovery and Range Rover Sport attack.
Nor is it even finished with a majority share of the $60K-plus medium SUV class with its Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque duo.
Enter a third contender in that segment, the Range Rover Velar. It is larger and more opulent than Evoque, but smaller than a Sport, and tested here in range-topping P380 First Edition specification.
Price and equipment
The P380 First Edition packages $37,000 in optional equipment over the HSE R-Dynamic on which it is based, all for around $32,000 above that regular model grade when equipped with the top, 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine – saving buyers about $5000 give-or-take.
All told this Range Rover Velar is not cheap, at $172,372 plus on-road costs.
In terms of pricing, it rivals only the Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Pack and forthcoming Mercedes-AMG GLC63.
Virtually everything is standard, however, with the exception of a disappointingly optional digital radio ($940) and four-zone climate control ($1910). Outside there are 22-inch alloy wheels and Matrix LED headlights with adaptive-auto high-beam, while Windsor leather drapes the dashboard and seats, suede lines the panoramic-sunroof-equipped ceiling, and carbon-fibre flanks the doors.
There are also 20-way electrically adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, plus heated rear seats with electric-recline backrest, a head-up display, surround-view camera, active cruise control, and a 21-speaker, 1600-watt Meridian Signature sound system. Indulgent is the word.
This is a proper Range Rover interior in every measure except one. Beyond the rich leathers and tactile finishes, the twin-centre 10-inch colour touchscreens and 12.3-inch colour driver display present as a near-perfect finishing touch to the most opulent dashboard of anything at this price.
Some of the navigation graphics and menu intuition are not to Audi’s equivalent Virtual Cockpit standards, however the division of functions between the screens, and the partial use of rotary dials for cabin and seat temperature, and a physical knob for the audio volume, is extremely inspired.
Vehicles may be becoming more like smartphones, but the critical difference is that a driver must keep eyes affixed to the road more than a screen. ‘Feeling’ around the cabin for buttons and switches is still arguably important, then, and Velar designers have scored a major win here. The only asterisk is that the system was sometimes glitchy and slow to respond.
Otherwise, the upright driving position is a classic Range Rover trait, with sumptuous seating front and rear, and an expansive view in each direction. A slight lack of rear legroom misses the Range Rover brief a little, but only in the context of the pricetag.
It is certainly roomier (and richer all over) than a Porsche Macan, and that position continues once the electric tailgate is raised and the 558-litre boot is viewed. For the most part, this is just a ‘mini Vogue’ and it is all the better for it.
Engine and transmission
With claimed 5.4-second 0-100km/h performance, the P380 First Edition is certainly not slow. But nor is this 280kW/450Nm 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol model as quick as a Macan Turbo Performance or Mercedes-AMG GLC63. They claim 0-100km/h in 4.3s and 4.1s respectively.
Range Rover has not focused on traffic-light drag races and Nurburgring lap times with this medium SUV, and thankfully so. Being supercharged, the engine actually delivers superb throttle response in all conditions, so it feels responsive underfoot at all times. Thanks can partially go to an intelligent and intuitive eight-speed automatic transmission, with ‘D’ and alternate ‘S’ modes.
The syrupy noise of the V6 encourages a smooth driving style, while still being swift. For only a couple of thousand dollars less a 221kW/700Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 diesel is alternatively available in this specification.
With a 6.5s 0-100km/h and claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption of 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres, it could be a better option for some buyers.
That said, we were surprised by the economy of this V6 petrol. Although it claims 9.4L/100km, and delivered 15.0 litres per 100 kilometres around town, it lowered to 12.6L/100km even after spirited backroad driving. While that seems high, even turbo four-cylinder engines can deliver the former figure in an urban environment.
Yet the auto has enough gears, and the V6 enough low-rev urge, to ensure the duo are not overworked. Plus, picking diesel would forgo the petrol’s throttle response.
Ride and handling
Adaptive suspension is standard on all P380 supercharged V6 petrol and D300 twin-turbo V6 diesel variants, and it proves to be a brilliant addition. Even riding on a jaw-dropping 22-inch alloy wheel and tyre package, the Velar is both beautifully supple and superbly controlled in all conditions – so much so, in fact, that the two-mode set-up does not really need its alternative Dynamic setting.
Only on coarse-chip country roads does this Range Rover display slightly jittery behaviour, in addition to some ‘un-Range Rover’ road noise levels.
However, these are only slight reminders that this P380 First Edition costs under, rather than over, $200K like a full-sized Range Rover. In other words, for both ride quality and refinement, this medium SUV is still one of the best in the class.
Even better, perhaps, is that general softness proves no barrier to immediate responses and overall driver enjoyment. The steering, for example, is crisp, light and quick enough to ensure a driver’s hands can be pinned at 9-and-3 without getting crossed up in tight corners.
Handling tends towards pushy understeer, but there is grip aplenty and the Velar even relishes in a lift of the throttle mid-corner, where it displays fine balance by gently swinging its portly backside around to help the nose point. In essence, it is rewarding to drive at public-road speeds, without chasing sportscar-rivalling sharpness on a racetrack that is utterly irrelevant in an SUV.
Safety and servicing
Six airbags (including dual front, front-side and curtain), ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), front and rear parking sensors with around-view camera, blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning and assistance, and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) are all standard.
ANCAP has tested the Range Rover Velar and it scored five stars with 35.5 out of 38 points.
Land Rover’s servicing plan for five years or 130,000km includes costs $1800.
The Range Rover Velar P380 First Edition is expensive at $170K-plus. However, it absolutely feels like a distilled version of a ‘proper’ Range Rover, and indeed the top model thereof.
Even stronger performance could be added, and the Velar could be a fraction quieter and even better equipped for the price, but most importantly it delivers a distinct character all its own, away from both of its Range Rover siblings and the Macan Turbo Performance Pack and GLC63.
It looks stunning on 22s, yet it rides beautifully. The cabin is deeply luxurious and exquisitely finished, with fine ergonomics and rich appointments, even if it does not feel super spacious compared with larger models – such as the Range Rover Sport – that start from about this price.
In short, it feels all-of-a-piece, and premium from door opening, to seating, to driving experience. That sort of cohesion is rare, and is arguably worth paying for.
Mercedes-AMG GLC63 from $164,900 plus on-road costs
Noisy and brash to the Range Rover’s luxury.
Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Pack from $143,900 plus on-road costs
Blends ride and handling beautifully, but interior is less beautiful.
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