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First drive: Range Rover Velar D300 MHEV. Image by Range Rover.

First drive: Range Rover Velar D300 MHEV
Inline-six diesel power with MHEV back-up really suits the refined character of the Range Rover Velar 2021MY.

   



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Range Rover Velar D300 2021MY

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Our second go in the 2021 model year Range Rover Velar is in a version fitted with one of the shiny new inline-six engines, plus all of its 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) electrical assistance. Should you therefore go for this D300, or purchase one of the four-cylinder Velars instead?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Range Rover Velar D300 MHEV R-Dynamic SE
Pricing: Velar range from 46,110, D300 MHEV from 60,255, R-Dynamic SE from 63,105
Engine: 3.0-litre inline-six turbodiesel with 48-volt mild-hybrid electric vehicle technology
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed ZF automatic
Body style: five-door mild-hybrid SUV
CO2 emissions: 194g/km (VED Band 191-225: 1,305 first 12 months, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 38.2mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Power: 300hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 650Nm at 1,500-2,500rpm
Boot space: 748-1,811 litres

What's this?

The lovely Range Rover Velar 2021MY, now in D300 MHEV R-Dynamic SE specification after our first go in the P400e plug-in hybrid as an S. This means it gains those slatted outer intakes in its front bumper, visible exhaust exits at the back of the vehicle and a set of whopping 22-inch nine-split-spoke alloys in Gloss Sparkle Silver to enhance its unquestionable aesthetic appeal. Very nice. Inside, it looks the same as the P400e S and also benefits from all the tech/design updates Land Rover has made to the Range Rover Velar line-up for 2021, so if you want a full rundown on those then click on through to our review of the PHEV model above.

The difference here, then, is that this is one of the newly introduced straight-six engines that parent company Land Rover has parachuted into the mid-sized Rangie. All three of these newcomers are 48-volt MHEVs that drive all four wheels through an eight-speed ZF gearbox, and they all sit on twin-axle air suspension as standard to befit their upper-echelon status in the Velar hierarchy. There are two petrols, the P340 and then the sublime P400, which we've already exulted in driving in the magnificent Defender 110... although we did note the P400 has a raging thirst on it, so it's unlikely either of these juicy inline-sixes will find much favour here in the UK.

Turn your eyes, then, to this D300 MHEV as maybe being the sweet spot of the modern-day Velar line-up. It's the same silky unit we tried recently in the Discovery 5 2021MY, only here it's installed in a significantly lighter, lower and more aerodynamic body. So the Disco, hovering in the unfortunately bulky zone of 2.5 tonnes as a D300 MHEV, claims data of 218g/km of CO2, 33.9mpg combined economy, a top speed of 130mph and a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, but the Velar clocks in at a relatively trim 1,993kg. That's DIN, mind, but even so it's nice to see a plush SUV dipping below two tonnes in at least one weight measurement; on a fairer, EU-versus-EU comparison with the Discovery, the Range Rover is 2,068kg. Nevertheless, that is a colossal 369 kilos lighter than the Land Rover with the same powertrain and so the Velar D300 improves on every single metric listed for the Disco - with 194g/km, 38.2mpg, 144mph and 6.5 seconds, respectively. Naturally, the Land Rover can claim its full-seven-seat USP and a cheaper starting price of 56,440, because in the Velar range the I6 turbodiesel is only available in sporty R-Dynamic specification, starting from 60,255. For an R-Dynamic SE like our test car, you'll be paying at least 63,105.

Anyway, never mind the Disco D300 comparisons; the question is whether the MHEV D300 Velar is preferable to the PHEV P400e Velar and, perhaps more crucially, the thing you should be choosing over talented competitors like the Porsche Macan, the BMW X3 and the Volvo XC60? Time to find out.

How does it drive?

On pure numbers alone, something odd has happened in the transition from a V6 turbodiesel lump to this straight-six unit: the Velar D300 has lost some torque. Fifty Newton metres, to be precise. Whereas pre-2021MY models had 300hp and 700Nm, this one matches the horsepower number but dips to a maximum 650Nm. Thankfully, as the torque-infill duties of the MHEV gear more than make up for that, you don't really notice any difference between V6 and I6 in terms of speed.

What you will notice is that the Ingenium I6 is a belting powerplant. Super-smooth and so eager to rev when many turbodiesels give up the ghost beyond 3,000rpm, it blesses the D300 Velar with a serious turn of pace in a wide variety of conditions. Good on fuel, too, a cruising economy approaching or even surpassing 40mpg not out of the question, although we enjoyed the, er, other side of the 3.0-litre engine's character on the test route and then the tricky off-roading course - which the Velar D300 blitzed easily with its Terrain Optimisation 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control equipment, plus of course the ubiquitous Hill Descent Control - so that by the end of the day, only 26mpg was showing on the Range Rover's instrument cluster. Ahem.

Anyway, just like the P400e Velar, we found this D300 R-Dynamic to be a joy to drive around. It's composed and suitably talented in the corners (especially as it's a good 165kg lighter than the plug-in model), you could not ask for much more refinement from it on the motorway, what with its active-noise-cancelled cabin being whisper quiet even at 70mph on a very blustery day, and the air suspension does not have any compromises in terms of either ride comfort nor body control when compared to the steel-sprung PHEV we drove back-to-back with the turbodiesel model. Indeed, whereas in other markets there can be a big price disparity in favour of the P400e due to its lower CO2 output, that's not the case in the Velar's home market of good ol' Blighty. Although you can get in a PHEV variant from 56,550, that's for a non-R-Dynamic spec vehicle, and the D300 MHEV is only available in R-Dynamic S/SE/HSE grades. Therefore, on a like-for-like basis, a Velar P400e R-Dynamic starts from 64,365 and the SE is 67,215; or, put another way, the plug-in hybrid is 4,110 costlier than its equivalent D300 MHEV. Factor in that the diesel's boot doesn't lose space like the PHEV's does in order to accommodate the lithium-ion battery pack, and that although there's apparently a second between the pair for 0-62mph then we're surprised to report we didn't notice any appreciable performance difference betwixt P400e and D300 on the day, and you can probably see where we're heading with the verdict already...

Verdict

While it's true that there are a lot of SUV models clamouring for buyers' attention in the showrooms of the Jaguar Land Rover conglomerate in 2021, the updated Range Rover Velar remains an understated yet charming model that deserves your fullest consideration. It doesn't quite drive with the same verve of a Porsche Macan and perhaps lacks the starry Scandi cool of a Volvo XC60, but the inline-six MHEV drivetrain is a peach, the cabin is superb, refinement levels are as good as anything in this class and you'll enjoy the way you can throw the Velar around in the corners, without making all the occupants of the car feel ill in the process. It's not cheap, naturally; however, the Range Rover Velar D300 MHEV R-Dynamic SE is marvellous nonetheless - and it's definitely the model to aim for in the revised 2021MY line-up.

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

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 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

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 22 Mar 2021



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2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.

2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE UK test. Image by Range Rover.








 

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