Friday, 4 August 2017

The Range Rover Velar in Norway

I'm just back from Norway where I was a guest of Jaguar Land Rover to drive the new Range Rover Velar. We had a wonderful time driving not only the Velar but the Jaguar F-Type and also experiencing some of the best of Norway's scenery, food and hospitality.

Range Rover Velar in Norway


This was a timely trip for me as I've been considering possible replacements for the 4WD SUV I use regularly on the challenging mountain roads of Cumbria. Cars of this type offer high driving position (to see over stone walls and ahead on narrow lanes), robustness (on poor roads), off-road ability (finding spots for parking for mountain walks and farm tracks) and grip (4WD has helped me on wintery Cumbrian roads on more than one occasion). But it's no shame if your car never leaves town; the best 4WD SUVs are roomy, comfortable and safe whether you're on Regent Street or grinding (as I often do) up the Hardknott Pass in Cumbria.

With the Range Rover Velar at the beautiful Storfjord Hotel

The Velar

How does the Velar fit into the Range Rover lineup? A casual observer may have seen increasingly similar looking cars coming out of the Solihull factory over the last few years. The obvious styling differences of the Defender, Freelander, Discovery and Range Rover of a few years ago are now gone and a more generic look now unites the range, possibly causing confusion to those not following developments closely.

The Velar comes between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport in terms of size and function, placing it on the larger end of the mid-size SUV market: and this is the luxury end of that market. The Velar starts at £45,000 and you will need to budget for at least £10,000 more to access the more desirable features and looks of a true luxury performance SUV. Having seen and driven the car I've no doubt that this beautiful and capable car will be a huge success for Jaguar Land Rover. Why do I think that?

Lunch stop

Offroad at The Storfjord Hotel

Firstly, the Velar looks very handsome. We all prefer our cars to look good and the Velar has had much thought given to exterior and interior design. The philosophy has been one of what Land Rover calls 'reductionism' or "taking away the visual noise" as the design team explained it to us on our trip. And this approach to design has worked. There are a few cars that, for me, stand out as design milestones. These include the Audi TT, the Land Rover Series 2, Ferrari Dino. The Velar is a car to add to that list. Its clean lines build on the Range Rover DNA but take it to another level. I have slight reservations about shape of the rear end, but in some ways (as with a beautiful woman) the very slight disproportion adds to the attraction.

The Velar in Norway

The Interior

The interior continues the reductionist theme. With the aid of modern technology there are few buttons or switches and I love the clean and simple look this gives as you climb into the car. In practical terms I wonder if it can be better to have a switch to hand rather than having to scroll through the options on a screen to find how to switch something on (or off); but then I'm a bit old school and a few hours play would no doubt get me used to the functions.

Modern materials (including a high tech and sustainable alternative to leather), very comfortable seats, pin sharp screens for nav, in-car entertainment and other off and on-road controls make this a great toy for the driver who admires excellent design, technology and the concept of the perfect do-almost-anything car. Space, as you'd expect, is generous for passengers and luggage.

Driving the Velar

On road it's quiet, comfortable and our V6 petrol gave a sporty growl when required with excellent acceleration and massive torque. Off-road the various traction and off-road technologies allow the car to be driven up and down steep and loose slopes and sideways (as I discovered, heart in mouth) along steep contours safely and skilfully. Long gone are the low and high range levers and diff locks of early all-terrain Land Rovers; these features are now safely controlled by computer accessible through the digital instruments on screen.

Driving across the slope - one of our experiences at Salmon Wharf

Buying the Velar

The Velar would be ideal for my type of driving; long five to six hour motorway journeys to Cumbria which end with challenging driving on steep, poor roads surrounded by high banks and stone walls, occasionally with snow and ice to contend with in winter. I own a VW Tiguan and I find its robustness, high driving position, off-road ability and grip invaluable. To access these properties in the higher-end luxury package available in the Range Rover Velar would be perfection. 

However, when I come to choose, the Velar will have to compete with beauties like the Porsche Macan and Audi Q5 which can be available for less. I'd prefer to buy a British product as Jaguar Land Rover employs thousands directly and pays indirectly for thousands more employed by its suppliers in the UK. In reality budget might make the decision for me in relation to the Velar, but there's always its more affordable stablemates, the Jaguar F-Pace or the Discovery which also offer much of what I need in a car. 

For much more information on the beautiful and capable Range Rover Velar, see Jaguar Land Rover.

Afterword - The Land Rover heritage

I love the Land Rover heritage. I've owned a Freelander in the past and am the proud owner of a fifty year old Land Rover Series 2a Station Wagon. That car (which is being restored; another story for the future) is a direct linear ancestor of the Velar as the Station Wagon was designed to carry passengers and not just bales of hay or sheep or sacks of animal feed. Another link is that the original Land Rover used an aluminium body, as does the Velar. From the early Station Wagons sprang the first Range Rover (called in code the 'Velar', Latin for 'hidden', as it was being developed. 


I was a guest of Jaguar Land Rover on a two day trip to Norway where we drove the Velar and had a taste of the Jaguar F-Type, about which I will tell you more later. We stayed at the Storfjord Hotel, whose large rooms are made of traditional pine logs with grass roofs overlooking the mountains and fjord. This feature is not sponsored and all views are mine alone.

1 comment:

Juan Manuel Ballesteros y Allué said...

Just one word... envy! Very nice experience and article!
It seems Jaguar is coming back to where it should? Lol!

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