Range Rover Velar

HSE D300

Range Rover Velar, front static 3
Range Rover Velar, side static
Range Rover Velar, front static 2
Range Rover Velar, rear static
Range Rover Velar, dashboard
Range Rover Velar, boot 2
Range Rover Velar, rear seats
Range Rover Velar, front seats
Range Rover Velar, boot 1

TALK about spoilt for choice. Faced with spending a fat year end bonus on a proper grown-up off-roader bearing a Land Rover badge you'll be presented with plenty of options.

In the end it will come down to the depth of your pockets and the looks you fancy most.

Sitting at the top of the big SUV pile is the Range Rover. And big it certainly is, in both pricing (from £76,000) and physical bulk (as you may have noticed in front of you at the lights).

But add Sport to the Range Rover tag and you'll still have a great big chunk of machinery, except this time the cost of entry is lower, from £50,000.

Drop the Sport and replace with Velar (are you keeping up?) and the sheer presence of the car remains but the cost drops a little more, to £45,000 for the least expensive model.

Then note that the car you see here with a Velar nameplate costs comfortably over £70,000 after a few extras are added and the waters muddy a bit more.

In the end it may come down to looks - as so many car purchases (and marriage proposals) do, even if we like to attach nobler and more mature reasons to our decision.

The Velar is certainly a distinctive looker, in a good way. Lower and a lot sleeker in profile than other hunky 4x4s, the long bonnet and swoopy rear end making it a sort of mud plugging sports coupe.

Inside, there are enough computer-like display screens to keep an IT nerd in a state of contented delight while under the bonnet of the test car beat an engine of rare ability.

Yes, it's a diesel when that fuel source has become a dirty word, but my word it works well.

There's enough power on tap from its 3.0-litre V6 to deliver properly sporting performance, it never raises its cultured voice and showed a heady 39.5mpg average after 600 miles of mixed use.

That actually beats the (newly toughened) official economy test and was partly the result of many gentle motorway miles, but it's a still a good enough result to confirm that posting the death of diesel may be premature.

All that easy power combines with the SUV-high seating position and deliciously supportive seats to make this one of the most perfect choices for a long drive home on a Sunday evening motorway crawl.

Pick your road surface - smooth and pot-hole light - and the Velar's air suspension produces near silent and cossetting progress. Coarse chippings and the ravages of unrepaired time spoil things a bit, though, as the huge wheels and tyres make themselves known.

All that rubber on the road combines with surprisingly sharp steering to make the Velar feel lighter on its feet that you might expect but a narrow lane is always going to need special care in a car this wide.

The HSE spec drips with goodies, from intelligent cruise control and an 825 watt sound system to massaging front seats and (essential) rear view camera.

FAST FACTS

Range Rover Velar HSE D300

Price: £68,280

Mechanical: 296bhp, 2,993cc, 6cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 150mph

0-62mph: 6.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 38.0

Insurance Group: 46

C02 emissions: 167g/km

Bik rating: 37%

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