2019 Range Rover Velar review, test drive
22nd May 2019 4:00 pm
The assembled-in-India Velar is down on price and up on features.
What is it?
The Range Rover Velar you see here is among the very first to be put together at Jaguar Land Rover’s assembly facility in Pune. What’s in it for you? In brief: keener pricing. The locally-assembled Velar costs 15-20 percent less than the equivalent-spec imported one did. The Velar P250 R-Dynamic S featured here comes in at Rs 72.47 lakh (ex-showroom, India) – near Rs 13 lakh less than the one on sale thus far. Land Rover has also added in more features as standard so there’s more value to the package too.
Do note, the Velar India line-up has been trimmed – and how! From 25 versions (all engines and trims accounted for), the choice is down to just two. The 3.0-litre diesel has been dropped from the India range altogether, while the 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder petrol and diesels are solely available in the R-Dynamic S trim.
What’s it like on the outside?
We’ve said it in the past, and we’ll say it again – the Velar is one of the sexiest SUVs you can buy. The long and relatively low-slung shape works superbly and also gives the Velar necessary distinction in the increasingly crowded Land Rover universe. A form-fitting roof and tight skinning give it genuine show value, and even the door handles, that only ‘pop out’ when the car is unlocked, make a style statement in their own right.
The ‘R-Dynamic’ in the trim name means the Velar now gets sportier bumpers as standard fitment, and the style package also includes bonnet vents. However, we aren’t fans of the trim’s Burnished Copper detailing on the gills and vents. And while the Velar now gets a black roof as standard, Land Rover could have gone the whole hog with the ‘Black Pack’ that adds blacked-out wheels (20-inchers are standard) as well; the Rangie lends itself well to being ‘murdered out’.
What’s it like on the inside?
Nothing has been lost in the transition from imported to assembled when talking about the Velar’s cabin. You see the very latest of Land Rover on the inside with the highlight being the dual-touchscreen Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. You can operate routine functions such as navigation and audio via the upper screen and less frequently used functions like vehicle setting and ventilation at the lower screen. The user interface isn’t as complicated as it sounds but you do have to momentarily take your eyes off the road once in a while to select the function you want on the lower screen. The screens do away with the need for too many physical buttons and the result is a sleek and clutter-free dashboard. Touch pads in place of conventional steering buttons also do their bit to make the Velar interior look cutting edge. Material quality is typically Land Rover – there’s a reassuring heft to the controls and there’s a built-to-last look to everything.
You are sat at a good height in the Velar. However, rear-seat passengers will have to contend with a high door sill when getting in and out; and space, while good, is down on like-priced luxury SUVs. The relatively small windows also mean rear-seat passengers won’t get an SUV-like commanding view outside.
The Velar R-Dynamic S was well-loaded to start with and Land Rover has made standard more features from the options catalogue. A sliding panoramic sunroof, powered and gesture-controlled tailgate, configurable ambient lighting, four-zone climate control, a 360-degree parking camera, park assist and digital dials are new additions for the India-assembled car. LED headlights, powered front seats, powered steering-adjust and powered backrest-adjust for the rear outboard seats are some of the other features on offer. Sadly, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not on offer.
What’s it like to drive?
While we are yet to drive the 180hp, 2.0-litre diesel engine-equipped Velar, having experienced it in other JLR products, we know the engine to be fairly nice but not at the top of the game in either refinement or performance. Frankly, it’s the 250hp, 2.0-litre petrol engine that’s more in keeping with the Velar’s character. The engine is smooth and quiet and the linear power delivery actually masks the performance on offer. If anything, the 8-speed auto gearbox fumbles on occasion at low speeds.
The Velar might not be the sharpest handling of SUVs but it is quite enjoyable from behind the wheel. There’s good grip and nice enough steering feel in ‘Dynamic’ mode. What’s missing, however, is that all-conquering ride that Range Rovers are famous for. There’s pronounced side-to-side movement and expansion joints and the like can be felt in the cabin too.
Land Rover calls the Range Rover Velar it’s most road-biased SUV yet. That’s not to say the Velar feels out of place in the rough. It clambers on seemingly imposing climbs with ease and there’s JLR’s All-Surface Progress Control too, which acts as a low-speed cruise control for additional security in low grip scenarios. There’s no low range but Land Rover has upgraded the locally-assembled Velar’s off-road electronics suite to Terrain Response 2. Terrain Response 2 adds an automatic setting that monitors conditions and decides on the most apt settings for the engine, gearbox, steering et al, on its own.
Should I buy one?
The reasons to buy the Velar remain the same – concept car looks, a futuristic interior and Land Rover’s tough build. A lower price tag also makes the Range Rover Velar a more compelling package than before – and that’s before counting the additional equipment that Land Rover has thrown in on the locally-assembled model. But to call the Velar well-priced would still be overstating things. Even with the price reduction, it’s a touch too pricey for an SUV of its size.
Fact is, the Velar is not the first model we’d recommend to someone with Rs 75 lakh to splurge on an SUV. But see a Velar in the metal – and it’s hard not to want one.
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