By Mike Torpey on 2020-06-14 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Range Rover Velar
WHEN petrol heads talk about cars possessing the ‘wow' factor the conversation usually finds its way to low-slung supermodels from Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche.
SUVs rarely entered the equation, at least not until the Range Rover Velar came along with its streamlined sense of glamour and elegance.
The Velar references the codename for the original concept Range Rovers of the late 1960s and fills the space between the Range Rover Sport and Evoque.
Neither of these stablemates can live with the Velar when it comes to style though - it may be a big vehicle but it's got a truly sweet silhouette.
The show starts the moment you approach the car. That's when a press on the key fob instructs the door handles - which are flush to the bodywork - to pop out, then retract when you hit 5mph.
But if the Velar's view from the outside is striking, its cabin just oozes quality, class and ingenuity - from the ‘hidden until lit' controls to the pair of high definition 10-inch touchscreens.
Everyone aboard is engulfed in perforated leather luxury, though space for a centre rear passenger is slightly compromised by the wide transmission tunnel.
That said, there's ample room for oddments and family paraphernalia while boot space, ranging from 632 to 1,731 litres, is impressive for a mid-size SUV.
The entry grade variant, costing from Â£44,350, is powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel engine from Jaguar Land Rover's Ingenium family and it was this 180ps unit that featured in our tested model, though with high level R-Dynamic S trim.
The Velar may be officially categorised as a mid-size vehicle but it's nonetheless quite heavy - a weightiness you can feel through the steering.
And while the 2.0-litre diesel does an adequate job of powering the Velar, we prefer the stronger 3.0 V6 oil-burner which suits the car extremely well.
Not that this hinders what is a superb vehicle to drive - comfortably flicking through the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox and driving smoothly on its 20-inch wheels.
Technology like four-wheel drive, hill descent control, adaptive damping and Land Rover's multi-mode terrain response set-up are standard on every Velar and higher spec models also get air suspension.
In Comfort mode the ride is compliant and cossetting, ironing out bumps with ease, the while Dynamic setting stiffens the suspension.
Ground clearance is more than eight inches, almost 10 inches with the variable air suspension and the Velar has a safe wading limit of around two feet.
It would take all day to list the safety and traction systems on the Velar, suffice to say that Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 and All Terrain Progress Control systems ensure that, like its siblings, this is a vehicle that can pick its way up or down mountain slopes, along fast-flowing rivers or over rocky landscapes that would make the hardiest of explorers think twice about.
Of course, like with many prestige models there scope to add extra cost options and the Velar, which it has to be said is kitted out luxuriously as standard, offers plenty to tempt its owner.
Metallic paint, for instance, is extremely desirable but costs £725 while a fixed panoramic roof makes a real difference at £1,315.
Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic S
Mechanical: 180ps, 1,999cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 120mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 42.0
C02 emissions: 152g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles
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