In cockney terms, a diamond geezer is a type of good bloke, a stand-up man, an all-round good sort, in other words, the Range Rover Velar. For as well as the Velar hailing from the UK, being a ‘bit of awright’, driving well and having some blinding good tech, it also comes loaded with diamonds – unfortunately, only the pattern kind though.
I don’t normally begin with the interior but I’m happy to make an exception as the Velar’s is very, very notable. At a first glance you will see that it’s crisp and unobstructed, there’s no sea of dials and buttons, just a well designed and laid out dashboard and 2 x 10” touchpad screens that I’ll get to soon. The SE version(s) that I had been given had a bright creamy white finish with high gloss black contrast accents all very posh and yet not overdone. Look a little closer and the diamonds (and Union Jacks) appear. The fascia on the dash that greets the passenger, the mesh that covers the speakers, door cards, even the leather seats you sit on, they all sport a raft of subtle diamond patterns, I didn’t try and count them – but there are loads! The resulting look is very refined.
The two screen options give you the chance to really personalise what information you wish delivered and how. Top screen, bottom screen, plus Instrument Cluster or Head-Up Display views. The screens are easy to navigate around (after a little bit of getting to know) and incredibly accommodating. The new InControl infotainment system (Touch Pro Duo) is tablet easy to use and comes complete with Apps, Mood lighting, Navigation, Commute planner, Media, on/off road support, in fact, it’s a list so long, we don’t have enough space here. I ended up feeling fully in control and the master of my own destiny (well at least until I got home).
On the subject of technology, I had been given the login and passwords for the Land Rover app and felt brave enough to use it. Following a visit to the Jaguar/Land Rover stand at the Big Boys Toys event, I dipped into the feature and started up the Velar before leaving the showgrounds. By the time we had walked to Cornwall Park, the SUV was up and running and the temperature inside was a cool 16 degrees – I guess it won’t be long before it will come and pick me up too!
Although the Velar’s exterior design has an upmarket elegance about it, the short overhang to the nose gives off quite the masculine appeal. Plus with a Length of 4.8m and a width that is a shade over 2m ensure that’s it’s no shrinking violet either. The Velar has a seat down loadspace of 1,731L ready and waiting for most weekend/DIY chores but I somehow get the feeling you’ll want to lay down some protective covering first – to keep the interior pristine.
The copper coloured accents on the bonnet and lower front air intakes act as eye-catching features and add an extra touch of class to the bodywork while the pop-out door handles are both cool and aerodynamically functional.I was given the option of either petrol or diesel power, went for the petrol and ended up going back to back with both, and I’m glad I did. The P380 – 3L petrol produces 280kW and 450Nm (at 6,500rpm) while the D300 is equally a 3L but delivers 221kW and a whopping 700Nm at 4,000rpm. Although the reported 0-100kph are 5.7s vs 6.5s in favour of the petrol, just quietly I ended up preferring the diesel – oh that torque.
There’s no denying that you do feel a little special when you have the keys to a Range Rover and I was in a rush to get behind the wheel. Here’s a top tip, the A-pillar is something to look out for, its sloping angle will have the ability to clock you one on entry. And on the subject of the clock, from the outside, the indicators are cool directional LED’s but inside they are relatively loud and sound like the tick-tock of a grandfather clock – in truth this is quite relaxing and therapeutic (especially after being introduced to the A-pillar).
From then on in, the Velar met with and exceeded my expectations. As I said earlier, it’s got plenty of power and is an incredibly versatile SUV. I didn’t get chance to go off road but I can assume that with Hill Descent Control (HDC) as standard along with the optional Terrain Response 2, a ride height of 251mm (Air suspension), wading depth of 650mm, and approach/departure angles nearing 30degrees, it’s no slouch when it comes to venturing off the tarmac. But I can, however, tell you how well it rides on the road.
With its lightweight aluminium architecture, the Velar feels way lighter than it should. In comfort, it’s smooth and road bump absorbing while in Sport, it hunkers down and allows a more fruity, in touch drive. The ‘bull nose’ means that the front corners are visible and the steering allows for responsive directional changes (it’s sure-footed around the bends). No need to worry about NZ changeable climate either, the intelligent, permanent Land Rover All Wheel Drive (AWD) systems serves up all-weather and all-surface capability – phew.
Although the Velar has been built on Jaguar iQ platform and shares a number of components with the Jaguar F-Pace, XF and XE models, it drives and performs differently. It’s more luxurious than sporty but don’t think for one moment you’ll be embarrassed at the lights. It has the pedigree (and ability) to go way off the tarmac but with a few caveats and it’s certainly got style but not the catwalk kind. It’s an SUV with its own certain swagger and of course, possesses the heart, spirit and sparkle of Land Rover, in other words – the Velar is a diamond geezer.