A work of automotive art. Let’s cut to the chase here – the Range Rover Velar is an exquisite piece of design. In a silver or light gray paint finish, it looks like it was fashioned from a single block of molten aluminum. You can pretty much order any color imaginable, such is the level of customization offered by Land Rover, but we’d skip darker tones which disguise the minimalism of this SUV’s profile. You’d never guess it’s a close cousin of the Jaguar F-Pace, which is handsome enough despite lacking the Velar’s T-1000 liquidity.

A British Volvo. Once you tear your gaze off the body and deploy those flush-fitting handles, you find the interior matches the outside for style. Land Rover is challenging Volvo for the title of Europe’s most desirable car interiors – even Porsche and Audi can’t compete with this. Everything oozes understated quality, from the crisp dual ten-inch dash screens to the Union Jack-patterned seat perforations. We also appreciate the extensive personalization options offered – you can really make this your own in the dealership.

Standard equipment is comprehensive, even on the base trim. Every Velar receives leather seats with 14-way power adjustment in the front, a 12-speaker Meridian audio system and a panoramic glass roof, plus wireless smartphone mirroring. We wouldn’t advocate the pointless R-Dynamic trim, which adds design detailing that undermines the Scandi-chic without adding comfort or wow-factor. Far better to spend spare cash on a head-up display and steering assistance. That’s assuming you have cash spare – even the cheapest Velar costs over $61,000, while the HST takes you north of $80,000 even before you view the options menu.

Impressive performance. The Velar’s sleek looks resemble a pumped-up wagon, and its road manners also belie its SUV size. Again, you don’t need to look past the base turbo-4 engine for impressive performance – it’ll hit 60 in seven seconds, using the same eight-speed automatic transmission fitted to the supercharged and turbocharged three-liter engine. The latter has an effective mild hybrid system built in for additional smoothness. There’s also a supercharged V6 in two states of tune, with the higher output variant serving up 395 hp and hitting 60 in just 5.2 seconds.

Needless to say, this is not an especially fuel-efficient vehicle. Despite its slippery shape and relatively low stance (even with air suspension, ground clearance doesn’t reach ten inches), you’re looking at 23 mpg combined from the turbo-4 engine, and 21 combined in the HST. The Velar’s requirement for premium unleaded will also raise the cost of fill-ups. At least it’s comfortable while it empties your wallet – the ride is excellent, and the optional air suspension is pillowy; we’d avoid wheels over 20 inches in diameter, which do their best to spoil the smoothness. By the time you reach flagship HST trim, road-holding is boosted by adaptive dampers, air springs, and intelligent braking that reduces understeer to impressive effect.

2022 Land Rover Range Rover Velar Interior

Space for four, not five. Despite being marketed as a five-seater, you’d struggle to transport more than four people in comfort. With that caveat, there’s much to admire about the Velar’s cabin. The seats are comfortable, with the option of power reclining in the rear for those who like to be chauffeured. Cargo space of circa 34 cu ft virtually doubles once the back seats drop, while there’s plenty of cabin storage. The roofline is lower than you might expect, but a panoramic roof at least makes it feel bright.

Visibility is decent without being exceptional, but there’s a surround-view camera system fitted to every model, so it doesn’t really need to be. Other safety aids include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and emergency braking. Safety testing hasn’t been carried out yet, but Land Rovers are traditionally robust, so we have no qualms about its impact protection.

Final thoughts. We can’t think of another SUV with as much wow-factor as the Velar, and for many people, that will be enough to seal the deal. Inside and out, from any angle or seat, this is a masterclass in automotive design. The fact it drives and rides so well is another feather in JLR’s cap – we’d pick a Velar over its F-Pace sibling any day, and that’s a fine car in its own right.

Of course, no car is perfect. The Velar is really only a four-seater, and you’ll need to look elsewhere in the Land Rover range if you want to carry additional passengers. Fuel economy is disappointing, and concerns remain about reliability, especially since Jaguar’s free maintenance isn’t carried across to Land Rover models. Then again, if the Velar does ever leave you stranded at the side of the road, you won’t tire of looking at it while you wait for assistance.

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