A vehicle that will serve shooting customers well, writes Ben Samuelson

Were you horrified when Land Rover announced that they were stopping making the Defender? Do you miss being able to buy a nice understated Range Rover with small wheels and teddy bear seats? Does the idea that Land Rover’s chief designer Gerry McGovern has his own range of swimming trunks (he does) fill you with horror? If so, please turn away now and concentrate on this  lovely shooting estate  – the Range Rover Velar.

Range Rover Velar – the most modern car produced

For those of you still reading, welcome to the 21st century, where Jaguar Land Rover is owned by the Indian conglomerate Tata and employs some 40,000 people in the UK to build more cars than it ever has before. The new Range Rover Velar (named after the original Range Rover prototype) is arguably the most modern car either brand has ever produced.

Let’s start on the outside, where Mr McGovern shows why his bosses allow him to do daft things with swimwear. It looks absolutely bloody brilliant, a perfectly-proportioned concept car that has somehow stepped off the motor show turntable and onto the streets. Step inside and it gets even better, with smooth lines, modern materials and five configurable screens across the dash and even on the steering wheel that finally give Land Rover an infotainment system that betters the very best from its German rivals.

 

A lovely thing to drive

Whether it is the base two litre diesel or the range-topping supercharged V6 petrol that I drove, any Velar is a lovely thing to drive. They ride beautifully, handle tidily (if not quite as entertainingly as a Macan) and are impressively quiet in terms of wind and road noise. If you spend the extra money on the petrol, it goes well and sounds really quite rorty but only does 300 miles before you’re thinking about where to fill up. If you go for the four pot diesel, it never feels brisk, doesn’t sound terribly premium but will go to the moon and back on a single tank. Nor, probably rather more significantly, will it be the car tax equivalent of the Nawab of Bahawalpur, who donated enough to HMG to have a Spitfire named after him. The V6 diesel is probably the sweet spot of the range with most of the good qualities of both but you pays your money and all that …

Not as good as a Range Rover Sport

Off-road, the Velar is superb when compared to its rivals, but not as good as a Range Rover Sport. It may be the first Land Rover to be based on a Jaguar platform, but if you tick the right options boxes, most notably the air suspension one that raises the ride height, it’s plenty capable enough for most muddy-field-to-get-to-the-third-drive eventualities. A towing capacity of only 2,500kg is a less positive result of its Jaguar roots, however.

Plenty of room

If you talk to the chaps at Land Rover, it fits in neatly between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport in both size and price. And I suppose it does, with the Velar having plenty of room for a family of four, half term luggage and a double bass while not being so big that you have to find four parking spaces every time you want to moor up. From a price point of view, things are a little more complicated, with the £85,000 that the fully-loaded one I borrowed would get you quite a lot of Sport, or even full-fat Rangey. A more typical price for a 3.0 litre diesel with a few options would be closer to £70,000 and you can get a 2.0 litre for less than £50,000, which all makes rather more sense, as long as you don’t look too closely at F-Pace prices.

 A superb car

The Velar may be available with vegan seat coverings (not actually made from real vegans, I checked) and green isn’t even an option in the paint range, but the Velar is still a superb car. We can’t pickle ourselves in aspic and I’d rather have a healthy Jaguar Land Rover exporting hundreds of thousands of cars all over the world than one struggling to survive building cars solely for chaps in tweed.

Specifications

  • Range Rover Velar P380 First Edition
  • Price £85,450
  • Top speed 155mph
  • 0-60mph 5.3 seconds
  • Combined fuel consumption 30.1mpg
  • CO2 emission: 214g/km

Insider dealing

For those still wanting a more traditional car with a green oval on it, or even green paint, used Discovery 4s are still holding onto their values extraordinarily well. Indeed, like for like prices of previous generation Discoverys and Range Rover Sports have pretty much reached parity. The new Defender won’t be here until 2019, but my prediction is that well before then, we’ll all have grown used to the looks of the new Disco and will be valuing it for its amazing range of abilities.