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First drive: Range Rover Velar P400e. Image by Range Rover.

First drive: Range Rover Velar P400e
The electrification of the entire Land Rover-Range Rover fleet is complete with this excellent new plug-in hybrid Velar.

   



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Range Rover Velar P400e

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

The Range Rover Velar line-up was one of the few in the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) group that didn't have any electrification within its ranks. Well, that all changes now with a series of mild-hybrid inline-six engines, as well as this P400e plug-in hybrid (PHEV) derivative.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Range Rover Velar P400e S
Pricing: Velar range from 46,110, P400e from 56,550, S as tested from 61,770
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol plus belt-integrated starter-generator (BISG), 105kW electric motor and 17.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed ZF automatic
Body style: five-door plug-in hybrid SUV
CO2 emissions: 49g/km (VED Band 1-50 Alternative Fuel Cars: 0 first 12 months, then 465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 130.2mpg, 33 miles EV range
Top speed: 130mph (hybrid, 87mph electric)
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Power: petrol 300hp at 5,500rpm, electric 143hp, system maximum output 404hp
Torque: petrol 400Nm at 1,500-4,400rpm, electric 275Nm, system maximum output 640Nm
Boot space: 625-1,693 litres

What's this?

An updated 2021 Range Rover Velar but don't spend a long time looking for visual changes on the outside, because there are none. Well, aside from some new colours, including Lantau Bronze, Santorini Black, Eiger Grey and Hakuba Silver, the last of these being the one you can see on the car in the pictures. R-Dynamic models of the mid-sized Range Rover get chunkier, eye-catching styling in the front bumpers and bigger alloys, but in essence any Velar is a good-looking thing.

Moving inside and it's a similar story of 'not much has changed'. This, though, is once again not a criticism, as the Velar has a lovely cabin layout. You sit low in the vehicle and it doesn't feel towering or vertiginous from behind the wheel, yet there's enough elevation to your eye point that you are always reminded you're in an SUV - crucially reinforcing the subliminal message to customers that they were right to go with a high-riding machine like this in the first place. The quality of all the materials used is excellent too, so if you want to seek out the few detail changes, they are these: there's a new design of steering wheel with different haptic switchgear; Active Road Noise Cancellation (ARNC) and Cabin Air Filtration systems have been added, in order to maximise the wellbeing of the Velar's occupants even further; and the new Pivi Pro infotainment system is drafted in. However, on this last score, and unlike the Land Rover Discovery D300 we drove the other week (which has also gained the same swish software from its manufacturer), the Velar's screen is not the 11.4-inch curved-glass display seen in the wider JLR stable but is in fact the same ten-inch screen which leans forward out of the dash that it has always been. Nevertheless, Pivi Pro works just as brilliantly on this as it does on the showier central screen of other models, so it's a major boon to the 2021MY Velar.

It's therefore all the oily bits which have been revamped this time around. You can still get the four-cylinder, 2.0-litre Ingenium units, in the form of a new D200 mild-hybrid (MHEV) turbodiesel and a P250 non-MHEV petrol, but above this the previous V6 engines have been replaced by new inline-six units, all of which are blessed with 48-volt MHEV ancillaries. Choose from the P340 or P400 petrols, the latter of which being a drivetrain we tested recently in the incredibly charismatic Land Rover Defender 110, or alternatively opt for a D300 derv-drinker; we'll bring you a supplementary review of that Velar very soon.

All of which leaves this model as the main talking point of the 2021MY Velar range. It's the P400e, nomenclature which JLR has just introduced to the Jaguar F-Pace SUV family. And it means exactly the same thing here as it did in the Jag: this is a PHEV Range Rover, mating a 2.0-litre, 300hp/400Nm four-cylinder petrol unit to a 105kW (143hp)/275Nm electric motor and 17.1kWh lithium-ion battery. The cargo space on this model is depleted by 123 litres as a result of the battery's location beneath the boot floor, but beyond that almost all of the Velar P400e's on-paper stats are the same as the F-Pace P400e's, with identical economy (130.2mpg), CO2 (49g/km) and electric driving range (33 miles) numbers quoted. As the Velar is, according to the specs, slightly heavier than the F-Pace, its acceleration to 62mph is a tenth-of-a-second slower at 5.4 seconds, while its top speed has to be limited to 130mph, instead of the Jaguar's 149mph; however, that's in hybrid running, as in pure EV the Velar P400e can match the F-Pace at a ceiling of 87mph. They're even priced the same, there being a mere 510 gap in it with the Range Rover PHEV the slightly more expensive choice at a base price of 56,550. We're not testing the boggo plug-in here, though, but a slightly more upmarket S derivative from 61,770. So the question is: does the Velar convince us of its merits more than the F-Pace P400e did? And is the Range Rover the PHEV SUV in this class you should be aiming for, first and foremost?

How does it drive?

We mentioned the weight issue between the Velar P400e and F-Pace P400e in the previous section, because the Range Rover's EU mass (fluids, 90 per cent fuel and a 75kg driver onboard) of 2,233kg is in excess of the Jaguar's 2,189kg figure. Yet, out on the roads, we know which one of the two drove in a tidier and more enjoyable fashion - this Velar.

Quite how this has happened, given JLR's internal marque differentiation suggests Jaguar is the sportier manufacturer while Range Rover is the overtly luxury outfit, we're not sure. But the Velar better controls its bulk in the corners. It feels tauter and more of-a-piece, with none of the weird superstructure wobble after rapid direction changes that we encountered on the Jag. Make no mistake, the P400e can still feel hefty, most notably on the brakes and during corner turn-in at higher speeds/levels of commitment, but it provides an excellent handling package nonetheless. The steering is lovely, there's precious little roll, pitch or dive to report, and of course the grip and traction levels its drivetrain and wide tyres (it rolls on 21-inch alloys with 265-section rubber all round) can muster up are immense. Come rain or shine, the Velar P400e proves itself adept and enjoyable on a twisting road.

It's also brutally quick. Petrol and electric propulsion firing with all their might, the Range Rover really takes off up the road with pleasing alacrity. Like the F-Pace P400e, there are traces of discernible and artificial sound augmentation going on to make the four-pot up front sound a touch fruitier, but this technical tomfoolery that's the automotive equivalent of Auto-Tune (that's a trademark, folks; see Alan Partridge and 'Tannoy') never attains the point where it'll set your teeth on edge. Furthermore, the 2.0-litre combustion unit is beautifully smooth and insistent right up to the redline, while it's accompanied by another corking ZF automatic gearbox. For speed and handling, the P400e won't let you down.

It also won't seem to let you down for refinement, either, the ARNC doing a smashing job of limiting road roar at motorway speeds. As it ever has, the Velar's slippery, elegant shape cuts through the air with minimal fuss and the ride quality is exceptional. This last point is particularly noteworthy, because alone of all the 2021MY Velars with the more powerful new drivetrains, the P400e rides on steel springs; all the inline-six versions have twin-axle air suspension. We didn't notice any significant detriment to the way the P400e S soaked up the lumps and bumps when driven back-to-back with a sporty D300 R-Dynamic SE on a set of 22s, so that's a major feather in the cap of the Range Rover's chassis engineers. Another positive: our test route was reasonably challenging and even involved some off-roading (surprise, surprise, it was a pretty tough forest course and yet the P400e aced it on its Michelin All-Terrain rubber), and at the end of it all the Velar PHEV had given back a 56.5mpg average. Admittedly, it was all out of charge by this point and had started with a full battery, and the route was only about 30 miles long, but the point is that the petrol-electric drivetrain can be frugal if you can regularly actually plug in your plug-in hybrid to make the most of its twin propulsive resources. So, the Velar P400e: fast, frugal and fun, all in one SUV body. That's quite a compelling bundle, we're sure you'll agree.

Verdict

We often think the Range Rover Velar is unfairly overlooked these days, as there's such a wealth of choice in the mid-sized premium SUV marketplace right now - and that counts even if you want a PHEV model more than you want a turbodiesel or petrol variant. There's also, as we said in our Discovery review, quite a lot of product congestion in the middle of JLR's vast SUV portfolio in the 2020s and the Velar line-up is one of the ranges which is jumbled up in that confusing mix of 50-80k machines.

That said, this P400e S is a wonderful hybrid SUV. It feels as luxurious and cosseting as any self-respecting Range Rover should, while it drives in a sharper and more enjoyable fashion than regular models of its larger Sport and full-fat Rangie relations. The PHEV model isn't perfect and it's not notably cheap either, with a starting price of almost 62,000 in this specification, but if you want a composed, assured and downright desirable SUV with a rakish roofline, you could do a lot, lot worse than the Range Rover Velar P400e these days.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 22 Mar 2021



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2021 Range Rover Velar P400e S UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar P400e S UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar P400e S UK test. Image by Range Rover.  







 

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