Is this Range Rover the world’s most stylish SUV?
RANGE Rover's Velar has upped the style ante in the prestige SUV world, winning awards as one of the sharpest designs of recent times. A massive model range with confusingly long names (such as Velar R-Dynamic SE P300) plus seemingly infinite expensive options boggle the mind but our family of testers braved a loaded luxe-filled example to experience the good life.
IAIN: This is the best-looking SUV in the world.
JULES: Brave call but I'm struggling to think of other SUVs this glamorous and elegant.
IAIN: The Velar won 2018 World Car Design of the Year, thanks to its coupe-esque silhouette, slim LED headlights, wraparound rear lights - and how cool are flush door handles that pop out when you unlock it?
JULES: Love them. Probably wouldn't if they broke though, locking me out.
IAIN: British engineering here, nothing to fear. I love the shape but not sure about how very gangster our one looks.
JULES: Black body, wheels, roof rails, door handles, badges and grille. My friends asked, in no particular order, whether I'm a drug dealer, rapper or English Premier League player now.
IAIN: That's the R-Dynamic Black Pack, yours for $2180. Guess how much the options cost on this Velar?
JULES: Well, our one is $104,750 already, so surely there's not much to add?
IAIN: Wrong. A mighty $50K of options here. You get reasonable kit as standard but the luxe in ours adds the price of a range-topping Mazda CX-5.
JULES: Ouch. Who buys a Velar?
IAIN: Wealthy stylish types. They start from $70K but buyers always spend more and they have 40 different selections. Ludicrous. The Velar fits between the Evoque and Sport in Range Rover's line-up and rivals the Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace and Mercedes GLE.
THE LIVING SPACE
JULES: It feels like a $150,000 car inside; truly special.
IAIN: Wow factor personified. If money's no object, ticking the options boxes makes you feel very important.
JULES: With such a black body, having two-tone colours inside is ideal, with lots of tan and black leather and suede for seats, doors and dashboard.
IAIN: Prepare yourself. The climate control massage seats move 20 different ways for an extra $8570. Windsor perforated leather and an extended leather upgrade adds another $3110 and cabin carbon-fibre finish is $3020.
JULES: But it's all so comfy, luxurious and the carbon sparkles beautifully in the sun.
IAIN: It is easy to be wooed by the beautiful finish. Two 10-inch touchscreens are bang on trend but combined with the piano black surrounds the cabin is very reflective in the sun and shows up all the dust and fingerprints.
JULES: Velar owners have staff, I'm sure, to keep things clean.
IAIN: The screens and functionality are great when you get used to them but you have to learn quickly to navigate through everything.
JULES: The voice control didn't always work for me so I spent a lot of time not watching the road trying to adjust ventilation and media. I miss simple buttons…
IAIN: The drive is superb though. What a pampering place to go to work. With electronic air suspension ($2010) and whisper-quiet insulation, it is limousine-like for cruising.
JULES: It's properly fast too - and just a four-cylinder?
IAIN: Turbocharged, and good for 221kW/ 400Nm. It means you fly off the line and it's all the performance you'd ever need.
JULES: One complaint - the indicators are clunky-sounding noisy things, ruining the serenity of the cabin.
IAIN: I noticed you headed off to the fancy shops in Brisbane in the Velar.
JULES: It looks better outside boutiques than parked at Big W.
IAIN: With a power gesture tailgate and decent 558L boot space, it is a practical thing.
JULES: It's not a big SUV and easy to park with the surround view cameras, even if they were a bit slow to load.
IAIN: Rangie refuses to make a car without off-road nous. This thing has Terrain Response to cover you over every surface, will wade to a class-leading 650mm and tows 2500kg. You can option even more hardcore off-road kit too.
JULES: Off-road? Really? How many Velar owners will go get dirty?
IAIN: None with the 22-inch rims and low-profile tyres (another $2860) ours has. But it's nice to know you can.
JULES: It's really balanced for an SUV. I could throw it into corners with confidence. My Sunday drive would be on back roads as this engine is a rapid delight.
IAIN: The boot's good for kiddie stuff but the back seat's not as wide as the exterior size suggests. No adult could fit between our two kids' car seats.
JULES: The safety kit is ideal with families in mind. We used 11L/100km, which isn't great for the family budget.
IAIN: Option costs are comical but I'm sold on the Velar. Standard kit is good enough, there's luxury in spades, it drives better than any SUV should and I don't think I'd ever tire of the looks.
JULES: Stunning and elegant inside and out with the required special elements prestige buyers demand. Our test Velar may be hugely expensive but feels worth every penny.
RANGE ROVER VELAR R-DYNAMIC SE P300
PRICE From $104,750 ($154,300 as tested)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 3 years/100,000km; $1500 prepaid for 5 years/102,000km
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 221kW/400Nm
SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, reversing camera, 360-degree parking aid, AEB, rear traffic monitor, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, driver condition monitor, hill descent control, trailer stability assist