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Fourth Range Rover model has abundant style but how much breadth of ability does the Velar really have?

Semi-skimmed is how we’ve previously characterised the Range Rover Velar.

Mid-sized is how Land Rover prefers it, the model filling out the obvious white space between the decidedly compact Evoque and the comfortably large Range Rover Sport.

Land Rover likes to use specific badge designations. So we’ll need to get used to decoding D180, D240, D300, P250, and P300

But our preferred description refers to more than just the Velar’s dimensions. Unlike its full-sized siblings, the fourth addition to the Range Rover line-up is the product of something other than Gaydon’s full-fat approach to SUVs. Because this new Range Rover is unequivocally car-based.

Its predominately aluminium platform is the same architecture used by the latest Jaguar XE and XF. The F-Pace is an even closer blood relative, despite starting at £10,000 less than the Velar.

Naturally, four-wheel drive and Land Rover’s Terrain Response system are both standard, even at the base of the line-up – but so, too, are four-cylinder engines, coil suspension and an usually low ride height for a Range Rover.

In this garb, perhaps even more so than the stoutly mechanical Evoque, the Velar smacks of a modern, immodestly expensive crossover – the kind of car many would describe as the antithesis of Land Rover’s usual off-road-capability-centric modus operandi. Taking a view on the philosophy behind the Velar, and where it leaves Gaydon, will be one objective of this road test.

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At the outset, it’s merely possible to acknowledge a few home truths: the Velar plainly looks the part, can be had with comparatively economical Ingenium engines and can also be bought in entry-level trim from around £15,000 less than a Range Rover Sport.

Taken without any additional context, those facts alone ought to guarantee the kind of feverish new-buyer interest that the Evoque generated in 2011.

Whether or not that level of attention is actually deserved on a fitness-for-purpose basis will be the second objective of this road test.

The Range Rover Velar line-up at a glance

The Velar range currently consists of three petrol and four diesel models. The P250 and P300 use Land Rover's turbocharged four-cylinder Ingenium petrol in two separate states of tune, while the D180 and D240 use a similarly-split diesel motor. The step-up D275 and D300 both use V6 diesel engines, while the Velar SVA Dynamic the top of the performance ladder with 5.0-litre V8 producing around 550bhp.

First drives