Range Rover Velar – gorgeous from any angle

If the pretty Range Rover Evoque is the Gucci handbag of SUVs then the company’s new Velar is the Louis Vuitton suitcase. Big, bold and even more stylish, the Velar is set to be THE travel accessory of 2018. With both Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini launching super SUVs over the next 12 months, all-wheel drive, luxury cars like the Velar are set to remain first choice for any well-heeled motorist. Our D240 costs £64,160 and is powered by an eight-speed 1999cc diesel engine. It produces 240bhp and can average an impressive 49.7mpg (combined).

Velar slots in to the Range Rover line-up between the entry-level, compact Evoque and the rather bling Sport (no jokes about footballer’s wives – it’s a serious driving machine). The ‘full-fat’, original Range Rover is still the big daddy.

Expensive, smooth and simply gorgeous from any angle, Velar is a beauty queen in the everyday car park of BMW, Mercedes and Audi rivals. The steeply raked windscreen, low roofline and pert derriere are pure car couture.

I found visibility a little restricted around town through that narrow, rear screen but otherwise the interior is a revelation. Expect minimalist cool – with not one but two control screens that sweep away an ugly rash of dials.

Just like the futuristic Tesla, Velar takes interior design to a whole new level. The steering wheel buttons are touch sensitive, the graphics oh so sophisticated and the Meridian sound system is an ear tingling joy.

Land Rover appears to have thought of everything with the multi-purpose Velar. Even vegetarians are catered for with optional, textured cloth upholstery that pretends to be leather. Mouthwatering indeed.

Velar was the code name given to the concept Range Rover back in the 1960s – so this new model has pedigree. Not that anybody would want to go mud flinging in a machine that costs upwards of £44,000.

That’s the entry-level price. My mid-range 240D HSE costs in excess of £70,000 with a few ‘must-have’ extras, like head-up instrument display flashed onto the windscreen and rear seat entertainment.

Of all the Range Rover models, this one is primarily designed for the road, with a range of eco-friendly petrol and diesel engines. No doubt a hybrid will be along soon, too. Priced to fill the £30,000 gap between the Evoque and the Sport, Velar may be cute but it is still super capable on the rough stuff.

Most versions feature air suspension, which allows the driver to adapt the Velar to suit the terrain – or it can manage the whole lot automatically.

High off the ground and rather chunky, I found the Velar didn’t handle with the pinpoint accuracy of a sportier BMW X5. A Porsche Macan is the best driver’s car.

It’s difficult not to fall for the Velar, perhaps because it has the advantage of being the newest, most sought after SUV available and looks like nothing else.

German rivals do certain things better but as a beautiful package, the Land Rover is something of a head-turning tease. And you can’t really say that about any Audi, Mercedes or a BMW equivalent, can you?

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The fastest Land Rover on the planet…

At the more ‘affordable’ £100,000 end of the luxury SUV market is the Range Rover Sport SVR. Powered by an upgraded, supercharged V8 that sounds sensational via four tailpipes.

Now, Range Rovers have long been the embodiment of good taste but I’m not sure the red and black leather interior in my SVR does the cabin any favours. It’s no wonder the Sport has a slightly ‘downmarket’ image in some circles.

Whatever you think of the styling, there’s no denying the SVR is a phenomenal driving machine. Fuel is guzzled at an alarming rate but it is ridiculously fast, either on a motorway or across country.

If the SVR doesn’t get you recognised just hit the sports exhaust button. The grumble from the quad tailpipes is silly loud. Order now for £99,680.

Launching in the spring is the Sport P400e, JLR’s first plug-in hybrid model and said to be good for 101mpg, if you believe the official figures.

For me, the SVR is more than enough…

Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury 2.0 TD4

Back in the days when Land Rover didn’t have such an exceptional model range, this would have been called a Freelander.

The first generation of that 4×4 was a dog – the second much better. This one is better still and borrows some kudos from the Discovery moniker.

Baby brother to the new, full-fat Disco, this full seven-seater sits on the Evoque chassis and is equipped with the brilliant 2.0-litre TD4 unit. It’s just about best-in-class, with 0-60mph in 8.4 seconds and up to 60mpg (combined).

Our specced up model is £58,183 with a load of extras fitted – it’s still pricey at £43,400 standard…

Land Rover Discovery Sport – good but not the best

So here’s the thing. The Discovery Sport slots into the Land Rover range about mid-ways. It’s important to remember that because apart from the pointless Evoque convertible, there isn’t a bad car in the line-up.

The Sport wouldn’t be my first choice, even though it does have an excellent engine and is super versatile. That’s because I think there are better, less expensive SUVs to be had from the likes of Hyundai and Audi.

You are paying a handsome premium for the legendary Land Rover badge but that doesn’t seem to stop people opting for a Disco Sport. The new, full-size Discovery is very similar in looks too – just bigger and even more expensive.

Many drivers will like the lightweight steering of the Sport, which makes it very easy to manoeuvre around town. Maybe I’m a Land Rover diehard but I think it should feel like a more substantial machine, rather than a rather luxurious shopping trolley.

Land Rover Discovery Sport – let’s stay out of the mud, shall we?

I’ve just spent the weekend bouncing around the new Land Rover Experience at Eastnor Castle, in Herefordshire. It’s rather unusual that they use Defender’s for the exercise – a vehicle Land Rover doesn’t make any more.

Perhaps part of the reason is that currently, there isn’t a ‘proper’ Land Rover that could handle the Eastnore course – used for decades to test Defenders to the limit.

I doubt the Discovery Sport would get that far either, even though it is more than capable in the dirt. Who would have to scuff those 20-inch Aeroviper alloys, or risk a mud bath around the leather cabin?

Until the new Defender arrives, the Landie fleet is rather lacking a rufty-tufty model. The Disco Sport is very much an urban mobile – but its for parking on the pavement rather than a full-on off-road experience…

Land Rover Discovery Sport – class-leading, apart from the orange paint jobpary

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The Germans won’t agree but the Disco Sport is just about the best car in it’s class. Tons better than the Freelander it replaced – now fitted with a 2.0 Land Rover ‘Ingenium’ engine instead of an ageing 2.2 diesel.

You just have to consider the costs of all the ‘must have’ options before running away with the idea of Land Rover ownership. It’s a mini Range Rover, less glam than the Evoque but still with a cabin that reeks of premium.

Complaints? Just that 2.0 engine which, although considerably better than the outgoing unit, just lacks a bit of punch, even in 180bhp guise.

Whether you can live with the orange paint job of our test car is another matter! Settle for a nice gun metal grey and the Sport looks superb…

My Land Rover has turned moss green – better than Discovery Sport orange

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So yesterday a very rare thing happened. I washed my 1972 Land Rover. It was more a case of scrubbing the moss from the wings – trees and bushes have helped give it a green tinge.

Somehow, I can’t imagine the orange Discovery Sport parked next to it is ever going to survive for 50 years. Well, perhaps not in that colour scheme anyway!

The only orange Land Rovers I remember are the G4 Challenge versions that, for some reason, seem to be worth a lot more than a standard car.

My Series III is Marine Blue. It’s actually kind of tempting to give it an orange paint job. Would that be cool? Perhaps not…