We get behind the wheel of the all-new Range Rover Velar and see what it's like in comparison to its rivals the Porsche Macan and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
What is it?
The Range Rover options used to be very simple, with the standard Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport. Now alongside the fairly recent Evoque there is the Velar, which is designed to sit between the Evoque and the Sport.
There is an all-new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, featuring two high-definition 10.2-inch touchscreens and fitted with Range Rover's latest tech - it's the most cutting-edge car that the brand has ever put to market.
What's under the bonnet?
There are several engine options including two petrols and two diesels, all with different power outputs. The base diesel pushes out 183bhp and 460Nm of torque, and can achieve a respectable 52.5mpg. Above this is a more powerful 236bhp diesel, and this still returns 48.7mpg. The lower-powered petrol version puts out 246bhp yet can hit 60mph in 6.4 seconds and return 37.2mpg, while the 295bhp unit still manages the same economy as the lower-powered version.
For those who want a little more performance, there's the choice of either a turbocharged V6 diesel that produces 295bhp and an incredible 700Nm of torque, yet can still return 44.1mpg. It's this engine that is our pick of the bunch, as it offers the best all-round usability. However, there is a powerful supercharged V6 petrol with 374bhp on offer for those who want a lot more performance.
All cars drive all four wheels via a ZF eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, with only six-cylinder-powered models coming on air suspension as standard.
What's the spec like?
The Velar costs from £44,830. For that, you get a base-spec vehicle fitted with the four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine. As standard, all cars get Terrain Response, 18-inch alloy wheels and heated front seats.
Mid-range SE cars benefit from larger 20-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree parking camera and a full 12.3-inch screen replacing the car's traditional dials. You also get leather seats, of which the front two are powered and heated. However, these cars cost from £56,060 – though are now available with the turbocharged V6 diesel.
Prices for the Velar can go as high as £85,450 for top-spec First Edition cars, though it's unlikely many drivers will choose this. The middle range cars offer excellent value for money as they come fitted with a good amount of standard equipment, and enough luxuries to keep even the most avid button-pusher happy.
The Velar is entering a tough marketplace being up against the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Porsche Macan among others. However one thing it has over any of its rivals is looks. The Velar is a very handsome looking car and as such will appeal to those looking for something super stylish with a luxury desirable brand to match. However, it doesn't feel as engaging as the Porsche and will cost considerably more than the Mercedes once a few option boxes are ticked.
What's it like to drive?
Once behind the wheel you soon realise that the Velar is vast in size and feels as big as other products from Land Rover such as the Range Rover Sport
The eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox shifts very smoothly without any fuss, and you can take manual control of switching cogs via the steering wheel-mounted paddles should you want to – though most drivers are likely to forget these in daily driving and leave the gearbox in full-auto mode. There is an impressive 700Nm of torque made by the engine - meaning that the Velar never feels out of puff, even on steep sections of road, something we discovered on our Norwegian test route.
AOL Cars Verdict
The Range Rover Velar may be placed in between the Evoque and the Sport, but it's likely to be the pick of the bunch. Those who want to stand out from the crowd will love the way it looks, while those who want a safety net for when conditions get tough will be impressed by the way it can handle almost any situation both on and off-road. Add into the deal a cutting-edge interior, and you have an SUV that's hard to beat.