Classy,

sophisticated luxury

from latest Range

Rover

Range Rover Velar, rear
Range Rover Velar, front
Range Rover Velar, rear
Range Rover Velar, dashboard
Range Rover Velar, front
Range Rover Velar, front
Range Rover Velar, front
Range Rover Velar, front

MOST people probably don't remember the first Range Rover, which was a bluff three door with plastic seats and rubber-covered floors so that it could be hosed out inside.

What a long way Land Rover has come, eschewing the rough and ready of off-road prowess for the height of luxury and tarmac-rippling performance.

But even these luxurious later models almost all come with four wheel drive and will go just about anywhere if the owner doesn't mind a few scratches.

That's probably a very small minority of course, but I've done it more than a few times and believe me these vehicles will get you through the worst of terrain or water and out the other side.

The basic shape of the Range Rover has hardly changed down the years since the launch in, would you believe, 1970, apart from the lower and slightly sleeker Sport.

The smaller Evoque is much sleeker and judging by the numbers I see on the roads, probably Land Rover's biggest seller.

But the sleekest and most aerodynamic car the company has produced is the quizzically named Velar, fitting between the Evoque and the Sport.

Few experts thought there was a gap in the range, including me, but Land Rover has produced a stunning coupe-SUV to compete with the likes of the BMW X4 and the Porsche Macan.

As you would expect - this is a Range Rover after all - despite those sleek, gorgeous looks with the low roofline, it still has the high driving position so many people love, giving an imperious view down onto the roofs of lesser cars.

The latest model in the Velar line-up is the least powerful and most economical D180 and when I drove it, the trip computer gave me an average of 41 miles per gallon, which has to be excellent.

The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine is remarkably smooth and quiet and it is more than man enough for the car's fairly heavy weight, accelerating from zero to 62 miles an hour in just under nine seconds.

It drives through a very smooth changing eight-speed automatic gearbox that has three drive modes - Drive for normal use, Sport to give a more immediate response and manual, when the gears can be changed using up and down paddles behind the steering wheel.

Oddly though, there is no 'manual' button that I could see and so to make manual changes, you simply start using the paddles.

The ride is excellent over almost all surfaces, only slightly spoiled by being slightly unsettled at low speeds on poor surfaces.

It's brilliant on the road, dynamically superb for such a big vehicle. It doesn't roll much and sticks to the road surface beautifully even when pushed very hard through a series of corners.

Refinement is right out of the top drawer and it can be a hugely enjoyable car to drive.

The interior is beautiful, plush and sophisticated with interesting touches all around and lovely leather covered, heated and electrically adjusted seats.

It oozes class and quality with a very high tech premium feel with digital controls on the steering wheel for a number of functions and an excellent voice control system.

I drove the R-Dynamic SE, which comes with sat nav, loads of airbags, lane keeping aid, parking sensors, keyless entry and starting, traction control, cruise, a heated windscreen and lumbar adjustment.

There are three digital screens in the dash for various functions and it comes with enough other safety devices to give it a five star rating.

FAST FACTS

Price: £55,210

Mechanical: 180bhp, 1,999cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 120mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 42

Insurance Group: 35

C02 emissions: 152g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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