I BET I know what you’re thinking… something about footballers, right?
Range Rovers have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with petrolheads as although there’s been supercharged original Sport models in the mid-noughties and current fire-breathing SVRs, they’ve always been a bit ‘footballer’. You’ll have seen countless Premier League stars being pictured in them, and no doubt their spouses turning up to a designer shop in one in some glossy magazine.
Time’s been hard on those early Sports and it remains to be seen whether or not the newer Velar will be consigned to the same fate in ten years’ time. Having been a sales hit, original Range Rover Sports are now worth a tenth of their when-new price. The new one’s very different, though - £90,000 is a lot of money but that’s exactly what this P400 version costs in this supremely plush spec. Okay, it’s a bit ‘look at me’ in white with black alloys, but cor does it look good. Every angle; it’s imposing, handsome and ticks every box you’d expect from a car of its price.
Open the gigantic door and you’re met with supreme luxury. There’s cream leather which you’re almost afraid to sit on out of fear your denim jeans will imprint their blue tint onto them, and an alcantara steering wheel that’s usually found on road-going racers, not a Range Rover. The only cheap item, although it’s bettered by the inclusion of more alcantara, is the gear shifter as it’s the same one found in all automatic Land Rovers and Jaguars.
Start it up and there’s a nice six-cylinder thrum from the 400bhp 3.0-litre, which effectively is the second-in-command to the V8-powered SVR. It’s a cracking unit, though; 60mph is done in just over five seconds which, for such a big car, is mightily impressive. It’s quick when on the move, too, but given it’s a petrol it does rather enjoy a drink at the pumps.
Sure, it’s never going to be a communicative companion on challenging roads, but body roll is perfectly admissible and its commanding driving position is rather comforting when you’re carrying your little bundle of joy in the back, who’s absolutely obsessed with the optional - but essential - panoramic sunroof that’s absolutely huge.
You don’t slide down into the car, you kind of step up into it. When you’re there you just don’t want to leave; the luxury and sheer comfort of the thing truly is a magnificent thing to witness. It might wear the Sport moniker on its rump, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a hard-riding alternative to a full-fat Range Rover Vogue. The Sport is supple, supremely comfortable and swallows miles to make long-distance journeys feel like a breeze.
There’s a vast amount of space, both inside the cabin and the boot, so it just shows that you should never judge a book by its cover. Yes it’s flashy and yes it’s expensive, but if you could, you just would. I know for a fact that if my numbers ever came in I’d head straight down to my local dealer and order one as my daily driver, it is that good at commuting.
But what if you can’t quite stump up the £90,000 required - or the eye-watering monthly payments - for a Sport in this spec? Land Rover’s got the market pretty much covered from £40,000 onwards, as they’re still making the Evoque, Discovery, Discovery Sport and this, the Velar, which through my eyes is even better looking than the Range Rover Sport.
In black, with silver wheels, it’s the complete antithesis of the flashy Sport - its spec is classy, subtle and it does look fantastic with the black badging option. In this spec, it’s about £60,000, so a good amount less than the other test car but still a considerable amount of cash.
It just looks more modern. Unlock it and the hidden door levers pop out, the front end is much more sleek and the rear lights look brilliant when illuminated. It’s smaller, but step inside and you’re met with undeniable quality. Sure, it’s less luxurious than the Sport - which you’d expect given it’s a ‘lesser’ model - but you’re not going to feel aggrieved by it as many components are shared, including the fantastic infotainment touchscreen that’s lifted every Land Rover model into the modern age.
Start it up and your ears will pick up its unmistakable diesel tone. Unfashionable they might be, but I’m still a big fan of diesel power, especially on large cars, as petrol-powered alternatives are simply too heavy on fuel. The Velar’s 180bhp unit is perhaps a little underwhelming, though, as it just does not have sufficient grunt to haul its considerable mass anywhere near brisk enough, but fuel economy is always 35-plus.
Its lower centre of gravity when compared to the Sport shows, too, as it’s by far better dynamically. You sit lower, it weighs a bit less and you can feel the benefits, but the ride isn’t a patch on its sibling’s and it can wallow when it’s unsettled by any imperfections in the surface.
But still, there’s a reason why the Velar is a common sight on the road and it’s because it too is a cracker. It shares many traits with its more expensive stablemate, but if anything it’s even more modern and also has masses of room.
Two quality cars which both continue the brand’s resurgence.