The Range Rover Velar P380 HSE R-Dynamic loves to oversteer. That’s an unusual sentence to write, but a factually accurate one, nonetheless. It feels important to start with a simple statement, as in many ways the Velar is incredibly complex.
In essence it’s a mid-size SUV that slots between the Rangie Sport and Evoque for those who want plenty of style to go with their substance. It’s quite the looker as SUVs go, though the sombre black paintwork and 21-inch wheels lessen its visual impact.
However, if you’re in the market for a Velar, be prepared to do some research. There are a mind-boggling 50 variants of Velar to choose from, with four engines in six states of tune all available in either base, S, SE, or HSE trim levels. From there you can tick the R-Dynamic box, which adds more aggressive styling, snazzier interior trim and a Dynamic drive mode.
As mentioned, our test car is a P380 HSE R-Dynamic, meaning it’s the sportiest looking model with the most kit and the biggest engine, a 280kW/450Nm 3.0-litre supercharged V6.
(Note: The 5.0-litre supercharged V8-powered Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography was announced after this review was first published in MOTOR Magazine.)
You can theoretically buy a Velar for $71,550, whereas this range-topper starts at $135,762. I say starts, because there is also the (not so) small matter of the JLR options. Somehow, our black test car with its standard wheels wears almost $30K worth of options, bringing the total to $163,842.
MOTOR review: Range Rover Sport SVR
Just as well, then, that it’s enjoyable to drive. The engine is smooth, responsive and powerful, the outputs feeling nicely in tune with the amount of grunt the chassis can handle. It can be a little jerky during quick on-off throttle manoeuvres, but the biggest bugbear is the lack of noise. Uncorked, Jag’s blown V6 sounds magnificent, but here it’s more of a muted growl.
As you’d hope, it’s refined and comfortable, the standard air suspension smothering most, though not all, bumps. At 1884kg, the Velar isn’t particularly heavy, but the weight is up high and, combined with the soft setup, there is a reasonable amount of body roll to contend with. On the way into a corner, the Velar is remarkably playful, turning in under brakes easily provoking the rear end.
Pressing the throttle continues to involve the tail, the variable all-wheel drive system feeling to send a healthy dose of power to the outside rear tyre, sharply pivoting the car towards corner exit. The Velar’s dynamic talents are such that it deserves better tyres.
It’s impressively able. It just makes no sense at this money. A Range Rover Sport is little more, while the likes of the GLC63 AMG, forthcoming X3 M and Jaguar’s own F-Pace SVR offer much more performance for similar cash.
Tested and rated: Read more MOTOR reviews
2019 RANGE ROVER VELAR P380 SPECS
Engine: 2995cc V6, DOHC, 24v, supercharger
Power: 280kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 450Nm @ 3500-5000rpm
0-100km/h: 5.7sec (claimed)
Price: $163,842 (tested)
Likes: Luxe interior; eye-catching exterior design; rear-biased handling; decent pace
Dislikes: Lack of growl from the supercharged V6; options are very costly; poor tyre choice
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars