The Velar has made a steady start to life. In its first full year of sales in the UK, some 13,000 found homes. That’s impressive, if not quite the 20,000 Land Rover had planned at its reveal in spring 2017, before falling demand for diesel and a depleted car market in general thwarted those ambitions.
Intriguingly, though, that’s only ever so slightly more sales than the larger and more expensive Sport, a car that still feels like such a sweet spot in the Range Rover line-up and now very much flavour of the month with the aforementioned plug-in hybrid powertrain.
While the full-size Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are closely related, the Velar’s DNA is more closely shared with Jaguar models. It’s a sister car to the F-Pace, in a natively rear-drive aluminium architecture that’s also found on the XE and XF saloons.
That means there’s no hardcore off-road running gear, the Velar instead using a conventional four-wheel-drive system. The 3.0-litre V6 is hooked up to an eight-speed automatic, and while there’s no low-speed ’box, the Velar should still go further than most of its peers off road with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and other electronic trickery.
It’s unashamedly the most car-based model Land Rover has yet made, then – something that’s evident not only in its technical makeup but also its long, low, sleek styling and low-slung driving position.
That’s the first thing that strikes you about the Velar when you first sit in it: just how enveloped you are in the cabin with everything wrapped around you – the glasshouse is slim, the bonnet long and the seat far back. That’s a real departure from the Range Rover norm, where you typically have an imperious, perched view of the road ahead and a view of each of the car’s four corners, however large it is.
In that cabin you can also admire the Velar’s other party pieces: the interior design, material use, technology and perceived quality. While the dual-screen layout has already made its way down to the Evoque, there remains a wow factor about this cabin and its modernity, something only enhanced by the absence of leather and the use of luxurious fabrics instead.
This being the range-topping HSE, all that comes at a cost, though. That the price tag starts with a six (well, a seven by the time you add up the options on our year-old, 10,000-mile test car) is intriguing in itself.
When Land Rover was busy showing us the Velar at its launch two years ago, it had plenty of charts to illustrate that as most buyers spent £40,000 on an Evoque and £80,000 on a Sport, there was a large hole in the middle where people wanting to spend £60,000 on a Range Rover couldn’t do so.