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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Nothing comes close to the Range Rover for all-rounder luxury

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The only chance I get to drive off-road these days is taking my lawn cuttings to the farm compost heap. Today I did it in luxury – gliding down the rutted track in the Range Rover.

Sometimes you forget how good this vehicle is in the dirt. The Rangey is classed as ‘luxury SUV’ and shamefully, few owners will ever engage the Terrain Response off-road software.

If they did, they would discover just how far off the tarmac you can travel in such a large and heavy machine. You will lose your bottle way before the land Rover gives up.

All this is done inside a beautifully appointed cabin, listening to The Archers on the radio and relaxing in sumptuous leather seats. Farmers never had it so good.

Nothing comes close, wherever you want to drive it…

Could you live in a Range Rover for two days?

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Sixteen years ago I decided to live in a car for two days. Unfortunately, it was a Ford Focus estate and my company was a particularly smelly journalist with bad teeth.

It was as difficult as you can imagine – everything had to be ‘done’ in the car for 48 hours. I mention this because I can say that goday, there is no other vehicle I’d rather spend 48 hours in than the Range Rover.

Headroom in the cabin is so high I can almost walk about. The Autobiography has a TV system in the rear, the seats recline and are heated. I mean, what else could you want?

It’s much more comfortable that flying long distance to Australia – and with a drive-through Costa near here, the food isn’t too bad either.

The Range Rover Hybrid has a motor borrowed from an electric toothbrush

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You can’t claim the Range Rover Hybrid is green enough to help save the lush fields of England. No, no, no.

It is, after all, equipped with an electric motor so small that it would barely power an electric toothbrush (by the way, one of the few features not fitted as standard to this Autobiography model).

Instead, the real grunt of the Hybrid comes from the same 3.0-litre TDV6 fitted to the standard Rangey, which without the £10,000 hybrid technology, returns 40.9mpg and emits 182g/km of nasties.

The Hybrid by comparison returns 44.1mpg and emits 169g/km. Slightly better but nowhere near good enough to beat the London Congestion Charge – and only saves a meagre £20 on your annual road tax bill.

But you wouldn’t believe the amount of interest I’ve got in this particular Range Rover over the weekend. It’s like driving an SUV powered by a wind up elastic band.

I suppose we’ve always thought of Range Rovers as gas-guzzling monsters. But while the Hybrid version may not be perfect, it does show the direction Land Rover is travelling.

And you can bet your last few acres that somebody at Land Rover in Birmingham is already perfecting the first all-electric Range Rover too…

Time to go green in a Range Rover? Only if you live in a city

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There are few clues that this Range Rover is equipped with electric technology. A discreet badge on the boot reads ‘Hybrid’ but otherwise this looks like a standard diesel version.

And that’s just the way Land Rover want it. The Range Rover is the company’s most conservative model – any change is greeted with scepticism.

In truth, it’s also hard to tell the Hybrid is being powered by a 47bhp motor when driven too. It may start silently but any pressure on the accelerator swiftly brings the 292bhp V6 engine in to play.

To really get any benefit from this model then you need to live in a stop-start city environment, long for improved fuel economy and have a strong will to be greener than other Rangey owners.

A longer electric range of more than just one mile would make it a truly great car…

The best job on the planet – watching the Northern Lights in a Range Rover?

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Bolt may have another gold to hang on his bedpost today but the story that caught my eye was a hotel in Lapland offering a dream job – watching the Aurora Borealis.

More than 200 people applied for the position in Finland last year and now it’s up for grabs again. Sadly it doesn’t come with a Range Rover as a company car.

Shame because even I would be tempted if that was so. Few Range Rovers hit the dirt these days, even though we all know it is THE machine for handling the rough stuff.

There’s tons of onboard technology to cover any terrain but unlike many rivals, the Range Rover cabin doesn’t scream about them.

It’s a classy place to sit, beautiful in all areas and better than a Mercedes S-class. If only they had one on offer in Lapland…

A green Range Rover? And we’re not just talking about the wellies…

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Let’s get one thing straight. The electric motor in the Range Rover Hybrid isn’t designed to pull the king of SUVs along at a smart pace. It very much works in tandem with the V6 diesel engine and can only move the Rangey for one mile under electric power alone.

The battery is recharged under engine deceleration and working with the diesel unit offers the same kind of performance as the larger, V8 diesel. Plus much better economy.

It’s also rare to trundle around the streets in silence in the Hybrid because even the slightest acceleration makes the diesel unit kick in. If you drive most of the time in the country, opt for the standard V6 diesel instead because the Hybrid will offer no benefits.

Still, the 44mpg economy is impressive for such a large car and those rare moments when the electric motor does take over are almost worth the wait…