Kyalami – A Range Rover may not be the most obvious type of car to pilot around SA’s most iconic race track but after Land Rover South Africa’s surprise unveiling of its new Velar at the recent Festival of Motoring, there was little chance of us turning down the offer.
The new Velar offers some innovative new features destined to filter through to future Range Rover models. The most notable of these is a new touchscreen infotainment system, dubbed Touch Pro Duo, as well as a revised multifunction steering wheel. Both these highlights lend the cabin of the Velar a much neater and futuristic ambiance compared with older LR offerings.
The model featured at the unveiling was fitted with optional striking R-Dynamic trim, adding a number of Narvik Black finishes to the Firenze Red body. 20-inch seven spoke gloss black wheels completed the package. Other notable visual upgrades included a black contrasting roof and the Matrix-Laser LED headlamps with Signature daytime running lights.
The Range Rover Velar we were handed the keys to was the flagship P380 R-Dynamic HSE, powered by JLR’s supercharged 3,0 V6; making light work of this car’s 1 884 kg curb weight. This model also features electronic air suspension, an open rear differential and a torque vectoring system. Despite these innovations, however, on a race track it was impossible to hide the Velar’s sheer bulk, its front end washing away should a smidgen too much speed be carried into a corner.
For what it’s worth, at R3 174 300, the Range Rover SV Autobiography Dynamic with its 405 kW/680 N.m supercharged 5,0-litre V8 and eight-speed Quickshift torque converter transmission felt that much more manoeuvrable. Here the standard air suspension also includes a load levelling function which helps balance out the roll through corners.
Dynamics aside, the Velar offers an experience of luxury and comfort one would find throughout Range Rover’s current portfolio. The perforated Windsor leather seats and leather steering wheel with chrome bezels lend the cabin a premium feel and complement an otherwise impressive level of perceived build quality. There’s also a selection of USB ports for fast-charging of mobile devices.
Including an optional four-zone climate control package, surround camera system, an active rear locking differential and an 8-inch rear seat entertainment systems the options list of our test unit added up to R125 200, bringing the overall price of this unit to R1 665 000; some R195 000 more than our Top 12-winning Range Rover Sport HSE SCV6.
At the lower end of the spectrum, however, with prices starting at R947 700 for the 2,0-litre turbodiesel D180, the Velar is a promising step between the “entry-level” Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, thus making it a rather enticing middle ground.
Price:R1 539 800
Engine:3,0-litre, 6-cyl, supercharged petrol
Power:280 kW @ 6 500 r/min
Torque:450 N.m @ 4 500 r/min
0-100 km/h:5,7 seconds
Top Speed:250 km/h
Fuel Consumption:9,4 L/100 km
Maintenance Plan:Five-year/100 000 km Maintenance Plan