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18in alloys, Terrain Response, cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, LED headlights, InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB and AUX, suede cloth seats
250 and 300hp 2.0
180 and 240hp 2.0, 275 and 300hp 3.0
Velar, S, SE, HSE, R-Dynamic S, SE and HSE
Design can be a subjective business. But good designs - and the Velar is certainly one, as its 2018 World Car Design of the Year status attests - not only attract and keep happy new car customers, but can also boost residual values for second-hand buyers. All of which is good news for fleet managers, whether they lease vehicles, in terms of better monthly rates, or buy them outright, for better resale values. Indeed, Range Rover is already attracting plenty of them, with 15% of the 13,740 UK Velars sold going to business users.
Designed to impress
What makes the Velar stand out is somewhat counter-intuitively a lot to do with what its designers have chosen to hide, subtract or smooth out. Thus, the Velar's ultra-sleek exterior lines remain unspoilt by flush-fitting door handles or super-close fitting panels and have an overall sense of coherence - especially around the grille and front lights - that is subtle and benefits prolonged inspection.
The interior is also a masterpiece of quality, restraint and function. The twin infotainment touchscreens, with just a few key embedded dials, allow easy access to the car's diverse options, and there is great use of colour and trim, including a highly unusual (for a car) upmarket wool-mix material option for the armrests, door panels and seat edges from a supplier more associated with high-end domestic furniture (and at £620 well worth it).
A strong package
Combined with this great design is a lightweight aluminium-intensive body, decent engines and the sort of 4×4 know-how you'd expect from a Range Rover. Four diesels (180, 240, 275 and 300hp) and two petrols (250 and 300hp) now make up the Velar's engine options and the four-cylinder 240hp diesel we drove is the current bestselling unit. On everyday roads that mid-power engine still affords plenty of grunt to propel a car full of passengers past slower traffic with consummate ease, while the body cocoons them from exterior noise and vibration, and the air suspension from uneven road lumps and bumps.
The car still feels big, but at 4,803mm long it's much shorter than both a Range Sport (-76mm) and a Discovery (-167mm), and narrower and lower than both, so it is easier to manoeuvre in tight spaces. Like most Range Rovers, the whole package and imperious high-up driving position actually tends to make you drive more considerately. You end up letting people go more often because you and they know, your car is probably harder, better, faster and stronger (apologies to Daft Punk).
There's no seven-seat option, the Land Rover Discovery handles that, but the Velar's boot is still a decent official 632 litres in five-seat mode, rising to 1,690 litres with the rear seats down. The Velar's lighter construction helps its cause, offering 44.1mpg in this 21in wheel, HSE configuration and beating the Audi Q8 (41.5mpg) and Maserati Levante (39.2mpg), although its 171g/km CO2 rating keeps it, like most large diesel SUVs, in a 37% BIK tax bracket for now. The two petrol versions can't really help much, with ranges of 30.1-37.2mpg and 173-214g/km, but an electrified option is promised by 2020 if Land Rover's broader statement on this topic comes true (there are already plug-in hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport as precedents).
Specification is merely okay; you pay for most nice-to-have extras with Range Rover, as with other luxury brands, but key safety kit like autonomous emergency braking is standard on all models. Perhaps most surprising is the cost-per-mile analysis. Despite the Lexus RX450h trumping the diesel opposition here (53.3mpg and 134g/km for 27% BIK) its overall 76.1p cost per mile is still beaten by the Velar's 73.8p, and both are comfortably ahead of the Q8 (82.0p) and Levante (85.1p). Which goes to show that depreciation is almost always the key factor within whole-life costs, and is where the Velar's outstanding design and desirability surely wins the day. I'd have one in a heartbeat.