Going in search of hidden depths under the skin of the Range Rover Velar has been encouraging and disappointing but utterly worthwhile.

Critics may claim it is an entirely superficial car; a little bit cynical, even. At least in part, this road test proves them wrong.

Stylish, advanced and accomplished but in need of a better powertrain

The Velar plainly has the luxurious finish and feel, the technological sophistication and the highly accomplished ride and handling to be considered superior to the premium-branded medium-sized SUVs whose proportions it roughly matches.

In all three respects, it goes some way to justifying its very high price. And if you like the way the Velar looks, ‘some way’ may well be far enough.

But ‘some way’ is still a long way from all of the way. Because if you’re going to charge a 50 percent premium for a medium-sized SUV – and that above an already premium price – you’d better deliver an outstanding engine.

The Velar D240’s engine and transmission let it down in more ways than one, leaving such a yawning margin between the car’s claimed and actual performance level that we can’t count it among our preferred luxury SUVs.

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