Evoque has been a huge success for the company, bringing new people to the brand and it’s expected that Velar will do the same for those who don’t want to commit to the full-size Range Rover but are attracted to the brand nonetheless.
The investment Jaguar put into developing the F-Pace was always going to be shared with Range Rover, so it’s no surprise to know that Velar shares the same underpinnings and footprint, yet they feel quite different from behind the wheel.
Whereas the F-Pace has a very car-like feel, Velar feels as though it sits taller and rolls a bit more through corners, a bit like the larger Range Rovers. It’s a plush ride and despite being more road-focused like the Evoque and less off-road like the Rangie Sport, it feels more accommodating at handling the rough stuff than the Jag.
The model we tested was the 3.0l, supercharged V6 petrol which produces 280kW at 6,500r/min and 450Nm at 3,500r/min and like all Velars, runs through an eight-speed auto transmission with paddle shifters.
Other engine options include two variations of the 2.0l turbo four-cylinder petrol putting out 184kW and 221kW as well as two diesel four-cylinder turbos and a diesel V6 turbo.
At 1,884kg, the company claims the V6 gets from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds and tops out at 250km/h.
Like the F-Pace, its all-wheel drive system is heavily rear-wheel drive biased with no transfer case or low range like its bigger brothers. It only calls upon the front wheels when traction is needed. Likewise with the traditional Range Rovers, there’s no manually centre-locked diff, but all three diffs do lock up as they detect wheel slip, which can be monitored on board through one of the centre screen displays.
Velar also includes Land Rover’s Terrain Response System (TRS), which works its magic depending on whether you’re driving across rocks, snow, sand, mud or sealed roads. The drive was a mix of on-road and gravel fire trails that included a steep climb to the top of a ski field, which in winter is only accessible by chair lift or snowmobile.
It crawled effortlessly in low gear, finding grip as the rocks dislodged and on the way back down it was a solid 15-20 minutes where I left it in hill descent mode and let it crawl its own way without touching the pedals. At the bottom a brief wading exercise through a creek up to mid-door height confirmed its ability to cross rivers even with roasting hot brakes from the long descent.