What is it?
Why I would buy it
Smashing looks, Solid build, Feature-rich cabin
Why I would avoid it
Limited rear seat space, Slow infotainment system
Great value. There is no better way to define the 2019 Range Rover Velar, which is now locally assembled. We say great value because the 2019 version not only costs Rs 12 lakhs less than before, but also comes with more features as standard than the fully imported Velar sold earlier. That’s a win-win for everyone.
You may have read our previous review of the Velar involving the P250 SE trim, but for this test we have the R Dynamic S – the only trim the 2019 Velar is offered in, as against the 2018 model which had over a dozen versions to choose from.
On the outside, not much has been changed for the locally assembled model besides the addition of R Dynamic bumpers and some bonnet vents. Designed to fill the white space between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, the Velar undoubtedly has the sleekest profile in the SUV universe.
From its short front overhang, slender headlights, low-slung profile and the taut tapered lines at the back, everything has been designed to minimise visual weight. To give you an idea of how much emphasis has been put to make the Velar as sleek as possible, even the door handles stay flush, emerging from the bodywork only when you unlock the car.
How is it on the inside?
Inside, the Velar gets a bunch of new equipment that comes as standard. For instance, bits that were optional extras on the 2018 model including a fully digital instrument cluster, full-size sunroof, four-zone climate control, full-size spare wheel, 360-degree parking assist and configurable ambient lighting are now standard on the locally assembled 2019 model. Having said that, the Velar still doesn’t get Android Auto/Apple CarPlay or rear window blinds.
As for the look and feel of this cabin, there is something about the open and buoyant feel of a posh Range Rover cabin that the Germans cannot seem to match. Like the exterior, the dashboard is taut, uncluttered and full of high quality bits. It’s all very nice, however, it’s not perfect. The dual touchscreen (JLR calls it Touch Pro Duo) arrangement that adorns the Velar’s cabin is a neat piece of tech, but it isn’t exactly user-friendly. The upper screen is the conventional main display for GPS, multimedia and Bluetooth whereas the lower screen is reserved for the climate control and the driving modes. While the latter reduces the amount of physical buttons for a clean look, you invariably have to take your focus off the road to change the temperature/fan speed or the driving mode. The dual screen set-up is also surprisingly slow to react and even the refresh rates are nowhere as fluid as you would want. Even the premium Meridian sound system doesn’t perform as well as other systems in this segment when it comes to audio quality.
As with all Land Rover/Range Rover offerings, the Velar’s driving position is spot on – the dash is set low and the front seat itself is incredibly comfortable. Long drives behind the wheel can be an absolute treat although the same cannot be said for those seated at the back. Now we ought to make it clear that the Velar isn’t an out-and-out family SUV – the rear seat space is limited for a full-size SUV and because of the sloping roof and the high window line, the overall sense of space is hindered. That said, the seat itself is rather supportive with a great deal of contouring for that ‘seated in’ rather than ‘on it’ feel.
How does it drive?
The 2019 Velar can be had with two engine options, both 2-litre four-cylinder units. The P250 version that we have here is powered by a 2-litre petrol engine making roughly 245bhp of power and 365Nm of torque. Now these outputs may not seem stratospheric, but the way this Ingenium motor delivers power is such, you would be hard pressed to think of it as a 2-litre unit. Power delivery, in fact, is silky smooth in any driving mode and there is more than enough grunt for everyday use. Of course, the throttle response is mellowed in Eco mode but it’s not frustratingly unresponsive in anyway. For more oomph, there’s Dynamic mode which will use more fuel, clearly, but sharper engine response and snappier gearshifts more than make up for it.
Our testing data shows that the Velar is decently quick given its power-to-weight ratio – it does 0-100kmph in 8.89 seconds, hitting 150kmph in 19.66 seconds. Meanwhile, in-gear timings aren’t too bad either, with 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph coming up in 5.25 and 6.36 seconds respectively.
The Velar is a performance-oriented SUV and it’s quite obvious with the way it takes corners. Besides a certain amount of roll that is expected from a full-size SUV, it is actually quite easy to hustle through the corners. The steering is light at low speeds and weighs up the right amount over fast corners. The front-end grip is strong too, with the nose darting into bend just the way you would want it to. Now because this is a performance-oriented SUV, the ride isn’t as plush as you would expect for a Range Rover. Sure, the Velar is comfortable and feels solid over rough surfaces but is also gets affected by sudden changes in road conditions – there is noticeable lateral movement over undulated roads and you hear the suspension working more often than you would conceive.
Should I buy one?
With the price-cut and the added equipment, the 2019 Velar is something of a sweet spot in the Land Rover range – it’s great to look at and feels just as posh as a Range Rover Sport. It’s comfortable enough for a small family and is well-built, and that’s before you consider all the extra features that are now standard. All in all, it’s down on practicality and ride comfort, but in many ways, it feels more special compared to any other similarly priced offering from Munich, Stuttgart or Ingolstadt.
Where does it fit in?
The 2019 Velar is priced at Rs 72.47 lakhs ex-showroom. It competes with a bunch of cars including the BMW X4, the X5 and the top-spec Lexus NX.
Pictures by Kapil Angane