Velar, as I’m sure you’ve read many times in the past, was the name used for development versions of the original Range Rover before it was made available to the public in 1970. Future historians will note that the first car to be sold as a Velar 47 years later is not, despite appearances, based on a Land Rover platform but on the aluminium one previously seen in the Jaguar XE and XF and, more recently, Jaguar’s first SUV, the F-Pace.
It’s possible to read too much into this. Jaguar and Land Rover are two brands owned by the same company and have been sharing technology for several years. Furthermore, there is no major problem with a platform being used for both a saloon and an SUV. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before.
That said, you could be forgiven for assuming that the Velar, bearing as it does a close association with Jaguars which are in some cases quite sporty, might feel more like a conventional car than a big off-roader. Even though it’s quite sleek in Range Rover terms, the Velar is one of the more top-heavy vehicles based on this platform, so the assumption isn’t necessarily valid.
As it turns out, though, Velars can be quite nimble. I’ve driven a D300 and a P380 and would be happy to describe them as such, at least in this context. I can’t say the same for the D240 tested here.
The D240 has a two-litre diesel engine which, in a first for Range Rover, is twin-turbocharged. It’s less powerful than the Velars mentioned in the last paragraph, but with up to 237bhp available it doesn’t exactly hang around.
However, it’s the least satisfying of the three to drive. The 20″ wheels which come as standard in HSE models don’t cause the problems you might expect, which is a relief. Otherwise, though, this Velar feels quite clumsy, and isn’t helped by its tendency to turn quite sharply when you move the steering wheel only slightly round from the straight-ahead position in either direction.
With its relatively good fuel economy, there’s a good case for choosing the D240, but Land Rover reckons the faster and thirstier D300 will be more popular, no doubt because Velar customers are less concerned than the average motorist about running costs. More to the point, it’s a far nicer car to drive.
Generally, the Velar is quite roomy, with excellent luggage space, though as an above averagely tall driver I find it difficult to become fully comfortable. A little more downward and rearward travel for ‘my’ seat would make a big difference. Rear visibility is, as you can see from the pictures, feeble.
As well as the 20″ wheels, the HSE has 360-degree parking cameras, a 17-speaker Meridian Surround Sound system, traffic sign recognition, an adaptive speed limiter, an excellent interactive driver display, matrix LED headlights and Driver Condition, Blind Spot and Rear Traffic monitors, none of them available on cheaper versions. Perforated grained leather upholstery, 10-way adjustable heated front seats and a powered tailgate are shared with the one-stage-down S.
Engine size 1999cc
Top speed 135mph
0-62mph 7.3 seconds
Fuel economy 48.7mpg combined
CO2 emissions 154g/km
Towing capacity 2500kg (braked)
Euro NCAP (2017) Overall 5 stars Adult occupant 93% Child occupant 85% Pedestrian 74% Safety assist 72%
Information correct at publication date