The infotainment beats even the Virtual Cockpit of Audi’s Q5 for visual drama, although it’s less intuitive to use. Its touch responsiveness is comparable to that of a smartphone but, frustratingly, the reaction time for menus to load is not quite as swift. Our Velar’s system occasionally needed up to two seconds to respond when multiple applications, such as the satnav and music player, were called into use soon after one another.
The car’s large front seats are extremely comfortable and come with a four-mode massage system. Combined with the screens and soft-touch materials strewn around you, the Velar’s interior is certainly not wanting for luxury, so much so that the cabin is the first feature that’ll grab you during your first ride whether you’re sitting in the front or back.
The car’s V6 engine is shared with the Jaguar F-Pace S, with which the Velar also borrows its aluminium structure. The motor channels 375bhp and 332lb ft to all four wheels via an eight-speed ZF gearbox, with power biased to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions.
This stout SUV offers brisk, effortless performance, but it does so with considerably less aural drama than it does in, say, an F-Type. The quick-shifting gearbox, which can be controlled via paddles, does add to the occasion if you choose to change gear yourself, but you’re never left craving that next open stretch of road to fully open the throttle like you might be in a more focused machine – not least because the fuel gauge falls at an alarming rate if you do. We averaged no better than an indicated 21mpg on a B-road run, the clearest reminder of this car’s near two-tonne mass.
On-road handling is drastically boosted by the presence of adjustable air suspension, which can be set in several modes ranging from Comfort for a more forgiving damping through to Dynamic for the most composed ride. While the Velar can’t mimic the hunkered-down stance of the more sporting F-Pace S or its rival, the Porsche Macan, it still mixes good ride comfort with impressive body control. Where it loses ground to its rivals as a driver’s car is in steering. The car’s electronically assisted system is no match for the more feelsome systems of the F-Pace and Macan, but this is clearly not an area of focus for the Velar. Ease of use is.
The Velar does at least stay true to its namesake by possessing the best ground clearance and wading depth in class, albeit with a smaller advantage over competitors than we’ve become used to. In some ways, this powerful, luxury SUV feels similar in character to Rover V8-engined Range Rovers of yesteryear. But those models still possessed a clear off-road focus, something not even Land Rover has tried to claim with its new, road-biased Velar model.