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First drive: Range Rover Velar P400e PHEV

Land Rover has added plug-in hybrid technology to its flagship Range Rover Velar model as well as a state-of-the-art infotainment system and improved features for extra cabin refinement.

By Maxine Ashford
Mar 30, 2021
£47,205 (Test car was £61,770)
Pros:
  • Beautifully designed inside and out
  • Impressive driving dynamics and supreme comfort levels
  • New infotainment system is fast, simple to operate and very high-end
Cons:
  • Expensive to buy especially if options are introduced
  • Boot capacity is less on hybrid models due to battery pack
  • Official 130mpg figure is only realistically achievable if driven lots in EV-only mode

Introduction

The Range Rover Velar is the carmaker’s premium five-door SUV that delivers excellent driving dynamics, impressive off-road ability and a cabin created for royalty.

Now plug-in hybrid technology has been added to the mix as Land Rover looks towards a cleaner future. In addition, customers can also choose from new petrol and diesel powertrains with mild hybrid technology as well as a range of generously equipped trim levels.

There is a completely new infotainment system and a whole range of fresh features to improve occupant comfort and cabin refinement with prices starting from £47,205 and rising to £71,020 - before any optional extras are factored in.

On The Road

Range Rover Velar PHEV

Performance

The Range Rover Velar is the company’s flag-bearer model and this year sees the introduction of a number of new straight-six, 3.0-litre Ingenium petrol and diesel powertrains with 48V mild hybrid technology. There is still a 2.0-litre diesel version, also with MHEV, but the headline news is the all-new plug-in hybrid model.

It’s called the P400e PHEV and matches a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, 300PS petrol engine with a 105kW electric motor producing a combined 404PS and 640Nm of torque. It can power its way to 62mph from a standstill in just 5.4 seconds and tops out at 130mph.

But it’s the manner in which this model handles that really impresses. The acceleration through the eight-speed automatic gearbox is beautifully smooth as it reaches motorway cruising speeds in a matter of seconds. And there are steering wheel-mounted paddles for extra driver engagement.

On twisting country lanes, it’s both composed and assured as it grips the road, meaning tight bends can be attacked with confidence. And despite its SUV proportions measuring almost 4.8 metres in length, the body sway is almost non-existent. 

The steering is perfectly weighted with ample driver feedback making the Velar as much fun to drive on open roads as it is in busy city centres.

Range Rover Velar PHEV

Ride Handling

The Range Rover Velar is beautifully balanced so offers exceptional levels of comfort for all occupants with advanced technologies to deliver excellent composure and agility on the Tarmac along with class-leading off-road ability.

The most important of these systems is the intelligent, torque-on-demand all-wheel drive system which provides optimum torque distribution to suit the conditions. This means the Velar can perform dynamically on the open road or pull sharply away on polished ice.

The PHEV technology means there are three drive modes to select from. These are called EV mode for pure electric-only motoring, Hybrid mode which automatically combines the petrol engine with electric drive to maximise efficiency and Save mode to prioritise the petrol engine and, in turn, to store the existing battery charge for later use.

In addition, Adaptive Dynamics is standard on all six-cylinder and PHEV models, as well as HSE specification four-cylinder models. This set-up monitors the wheel movement 500 times every second and body movements 100 times per second and continuously varies the damping forces at all four corners of the car. This basically means that the suspension stiffness is ideal for the driving conditions so improving ride comfort and handling. There is also a special calibration that works when the Velar is taken off-road.

And we got to see that in action as we took to an off-road circuit and, although it’s not in the same league as the hardy Defender or Discovery models, the Velar performed admirably. It traversed boggy tracks, climbed slippery hills and dropped down steep slopes without any hesitation and all on the standard road tyres too.

Range Rover Velar PHEV

Refinement

Viewed from any angle, the mid-sized SUV Range Rover Velar is very easy on the eye. Attractive design cues include a muscular stance, floating roof, clamshell bonnet, short overhangs, super slim Matrix headlights, flush deployable door handles, twin tailpipes integrated into the rear bumper, pronounced air inlets, privacy glass, a skid plate and a distinctive grille.

In addition, the latest Velar is on sale with a striking new paintwork shade called Lantau Bronze, plus two new alloy wheel designs in 19-inch or 21-inch with two finishes.

Move inside and the level of luxury cannot fail to impress with perforated grained leather upholstery and a cabin that is modern, elegant and generously equipped with new touchscreen designs that help minimise the number of physical controls.

There is another new system that brings with it added refinement called the Active Road Noise Cancellation system. This works just like noise cancelling headphones by detecting any irritating road and tyre noise and then calculating the cancellation signal required to remove that noise. This sound is played back through the car’s speakers. 

There is also a new cabin air filtration system on the latest car that reduces the levels of harmful particulates, pollens and even odours so occupants can be assured they a breathing in cleaner air inside the car than the air outside. Clever stuff.

In The Car

Range Rover Velar PHEV

Behind the Wheel

With powered seats and a fully adjustable steering wheel, finding that perfect driving position is a doddle in the Range Rover Velar. Then it’s just a case of sitting back and taking stock of one of the most beautifully designed cockpits out there.

The all-new Pivi Pro infotainment system is accessed via the vehicle’s pair of high-definition 10-inch touchscreens with sharp graphics and the 12.3-inch interactive driver display behind the steering wheel. Physical switches are kept to a minimum and the Pivi Pro set-up allows two smartphones to be connected at the same time via Bluetooth. And to keep the innovative technology bang up to date all the necessary software updates are carried out over-the-air.

The system will also personalise a driver’s experience based on habits and preferences that are learned over time, so systems such as the smart guidance will learn to keep quiet on regular driving routes, while heating settings, mirror and seat positions, along with media preferences, will be set up as the vehicle recognises the driver by the key fob.

Creature comforts are plentiful and include a navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, plus a pitch perfect Meridian sound system, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a 3D camera system and plenty more besides.

The elevated seating position means the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility and the cabin is bright and airy thanks to the fixed panoramic sunroof.

Range Rover Velar PHEV

Space & Practicality

The Velar is a comfortable, spacious model that would fit in nicely with any active family. With impressive storage options, the boot is accessed via a powered tailgate and can swallow 625 litres of luggage, a limit that increases to 1,693 litres with the 40:20:40 rear seats lowered. This is marginally less than the capacities of 748 and 1,811 litres on the standard Velar as the battery pack is stored beneath the boot.

The gesture powered tailgate can be opened by making a kicking movement beneath the rear bumper – this is great if you are loaded with shopping bags.

Designers have been clever to maximise the storage options throughout the cabin too with a split, sliding front centre armrest that allows either of the up-front occupants to individually adjust each half, and concealed underneath is a cubby with a cup holder and four litres of storage. Another cupholder is located next to the drive selector and the cooled glovebox provides a further 7.5 litres of storage.

The doors all have deep storage pockets designed to hold 750ml drinks bottles and the centre console has extra storage behind the lower touchscreen. And there are all the necessary USB points for all occupants to stay connected on the move.

With its elevated seating positions, the Velar is ideal for anyone needing regular access to child seats or with mobility issues.

Ownership

Range Rover Velar PHEV

Running Costs

The line-up starts from £47,205 for the entry-level Velar powered by a 2.0-litre 249PS petrol engine with AWD. The costs rise to £71,020 for the P400e, 2.0-litre 404PS PHEV in range-topping R-Dynamic HSE grade. And with a whole range of optional extras, the price could climb steeply in no time.

By timing the charging of the car to coincide with cheaper electricity tariffs overnight, the EV running costs can be kept to a minimum especially as the compact battery can be charged from 0-80 per cent in 1 hour and 40 minutes from a standard 7kW home wallbox. It takes just 30 minutes if plugged into a rapid charger.

Our test car, with the PHEV technology, but in a lower S specification, was priced at £61,770. When it comes to running costs, the official combined fuel figure is 130.2mpg (expect to see much lower unless the EV-only miles are high) with a carbon emissions figure from 49g/km.

This low CO2 reading would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of just £10 which would increase to the standard charge of £155 for the following years. 

The new Range Rover Velar PHEV in S grade is in insurance group 45.

Range Rover Velar PHEV

Quality & Reliability

The Range Rover Velar looks pretty invincible and feels like it will survive any challenge. As well as delivering all the bells and whistles when it comes to luxury, the car has been designed to overcome the roughest of terrains. So it should be just fine powering along our motorways and somewhat pitted country lanes.

The high quality upholstery is crafted from the finest leather but it has also been designed with longevity in mind. In addition, the snazzy, new-look touchscreens are easily wiped clean and all the switchgear feels sturdy too.

But, and it’s a big but, Land Rover does have issues when it comes to reliability and it’s a reputation that’s proving hard to shake. It frequently scores poorly in customer satisfaction surveys which is not what you would expect from a premium manufacturer (even though many other high-end carmakers also have their own issues).

The Velar comes with a standard three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Range Rover Velar PHEV

Safety & Security

The Range Rover Velar was awarded a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and is packed with technology to protect occupants, pedestrians, other road users and also to help prevent accidents happening in the first place. 

Our car featured the likes of blind spot assist, high beam assist, wade sensing, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, rear traffic monitor, front and rear parking aids and the excellent Terrain Response system for dealing with any of Mother Nature’s more severe mood swings with separate modes to combat grass-gravel-snow, mud-ruts and sand. 

The hill descent control system will automatically brake the car when descending steep drops and the ClearSight Ground View 3D camera offers an excellent image of the wheels to help prevent kerbing when parking.

Every car has a full suite of airbags, rear ISOFIX fixtures to keep the family safe, as well as an excellent alarm system and immobiliser to keep away any uninvited attention.

By Maxine Ashford
Mar 30, 2021