Up to this point, there are no other SUVs that are like the Range Rover Velar; none comes close. It is a thing of beauty, an example that you can still be big and beautiful. The Velar is sleek in every way possible; its lines and curves sweep back as if the sheet metal is being pulled into a vanishing point.
And it looks better on the move. The door handles, which extends as if reaching out to you, retracts when it moves forward. In my mind, I’m thinking of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. To be honest, this door handle is extraordinarily gimmicky and very unnecessary. Also, let’s not forget the optional side steps that deploy whenever the door is opened. Still, I like it... a lot!
Just as appealing is this Range Rover’s size. It’s not compact, but it is also not massive. It measures just 4,803mm from nose to tail, 2,145mm from wing mirror to wing mirror and 1,665mm from roof to ground. In that hides a generous wheelbase of 2,847mm. The boot space volume is considerably cavernous, able to take in 673 litres of things with the rear seats up or 1,731 litres with the seat folded down.
The Velar can accommodate five adequately and four very comfortably. Four will also sit in luxury, on seats wrapped in grained leather and accentuated in suede cloth. The same materials are afforded on the armrests, door cards, steering wheel and on the dashboard makes the interior appear more like a lounge than in a vehicle.
You sit in an open cockpit. Most of the physical interfaces are now behind the two touchscreens, one of which rises from the dashboard to greet you. This Touch Pro Duo allows you to run two functions at the same time, such as having the navigation on the top while Terrain Response is active on the bottom. There are also who multi-function rings, called Dynamic Dials, lets you select the air conditioning and Terrain Response mode.
Actually, there are three screens in the Velar with the remaining one located in front of the driver. The 12.3-inch display is vast, allowing you to display the navigation, the speedometer and vehicle status in one screen. You control that screen with Switch Joy-Con lookalikes on either side of the steering wheel.
The steering wheel itself feels meaty, soft and supple. As with nearly all premium vehicles these days, the Velar’s steering wheel gets heavier as it goes faster. And fast it what the Velar does all too well.
A 3.0-litre Supercharged V6 that produces 375hp and 480Nm. It is powerful enough to move the Velar’s advertised weight of 1,884kg from zero to 100kph in 5.7 seconds. Accelerating at speed, though, isn’t as blistering. Perhaps done to protect the transmission, the moment’s pause right after the kick-down is enough to make you question your next action.
Once it clicks into action, the eight-speed automatic gearbox ensures the transfer of power remains smooth to all four-wheels. It does not matter which Terrain Response mode you’re in — Comfort, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, Sand, ECO and Dynamic, the performance never compromised.
Regardless the terrain decides to drive on, your ride will be ever pliant, poised and polished. And quiet, too. The Velar on test is fitted with the Electronic Air Suspension that adapts to the road conditions quickly. Almost instantly, the suspension contracts and extends when they should so all four wheels are always in contact with the ground. And the air suspension’s usefulness doesn’t stop there. At speeds of about 105kph, the Velar gets lowered by 10mm to reduce aerodynamic drag.
You’ll be spending most of the time in Comfort mode, where the air suspension’s damping soaks up most, if not all, of the road’s imperfections. Handling the Velar in this mode feels relaxed and semi-engaging. The steering wheel also dials back in its feedback.
Dynamic mode pushes everything to the other end, improving handling and body control with a much of the button. Power and transmission click in quicker but the suspension firms up also. You’ll be feeling more of the tarmac, although more massive humps are made to feel flatter than it is. The steering also feels tighter with more information being telegraphed through it.
The Velar is superficial and practical all at the same time. It is attractive, interior decked out with tech and luxury, has a uber-refined ride, balanced handling and moves with power and purpose. Only one thing that can stay your hand from signing the dotted line is its price. The Velar P380, as tested, is priced at RM722,787. It is a premium price to pay and for once won’t have you feel shortchanged.
Specification: Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic P380
Engine 2,995cc, V6, supercharged | Transmission 8-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel drive | Power & Torque 375hp @ 6,500rpm / 450Nm @ 3,500rpm | Performance 0-100kph in 5.7s, max speed 250kph | Price RM722,787 | Score 10/10