Velar beauty beats the Beast
The Beast from the East caused chaos in the UK last month – especially on our roads
Some drivers and their passengers were stranded overnight on a motorway not too far from my house.
It didn’t matter what type of vehicle they were in – the road was closed for hours as lorries, vans and cars got stuck up ahead in the snow.
Many motorists were also stranded at their homes for a couple of days as minor roads were left untreated after the heavy snowfalls.
But there were no such problems for me as I was once again fortunate to have a test model more than capable of getting me out onto the main roads.
Land Rover’s Range Rover Velar was my four-wheel drive chariot to take on the elements.
This is the fourth member of the Range Rover family – coming in between the Evoque and Sport.
It’s got lots of eye-catching style – inside and out – and comes with high levels of luxury and refinement.
The Velar arrived in the UK last summer and is available in four trims – entry-level S, SE, HSE and an exclusive First Edition that is available for the first-year sales only.
There are six engines, ranging from 2-0-litre 180ps diesel to supercharged 3.0-litre 380ps V6 petrol.
Advanced technology brings items such as slender full-LED headlights, and flush door handles contribute to making this the most aerodynamically efficient Land Rover ever produced.
Switches are kept to a minimum in the elegant interior where there is a new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system featuring two 10-inch high-definition touchscreens in the centre of the fascia.
The door handles pop out when you click the fob to unlock the Velar and you enter a quality cabin with luxurious soft perforated Windsor leather.
There’s stacks of room up front and the rear will accommodate three passengers.
Boot space is also good with the 623 litres rising to 1,731 litres with rear seats folded flat.
My test model was a Velar HSE D240 that brought the higher-powered 240ps of the two diesel engines.
And I got plenty of opportunities to test out the different terrain modes.
Simply turn the rotary control and you see the selected diving mode on the touch-screens.
After firing up with the power button I selected grass-gravel-snow mode.
This alters the calibration of the engine, transmission, all-wheel drive system, suspension and stability control systems for optimum traction.
The power came smoothly through the eight-speed automatic transmission and I was off and running.
There was plenty of grip to take me over packed snow and icy road conditions.
With a 20-way adjustment, my seat offered ideal comfort and I liked the high driving position in this mid-size SUV.
In normal driving conditions this model accelerates quickly from zero to 60mph in just 6.8 seconds and is capable of reaching135mph.
The auto box moved up and down the gears smoothly and responded quickly when immediate power was required.
There are also paddles to make manual changes on the heated, leather steering wheel.
Motorway driving was smooth and relaxing with little engine, wind or road noise coming through to the well insulated cabin.
Ride quality was good on rutted surfaces and there was little body roll when cornering.
This Velar oozed quality inside and out to match its on-the-road price of £64,160.
Okay, I would have been stuck like others if I had been caught in a jammed motor-way, but the luxurious Velar would have made my stay a lot more comfortable than some.
I would have been pretty relaxed in my heated driver’s seat that also had massage functions.
And the Meridian surround sound system 825w with 16 speakers plus subwoofer would have brought me super sounds.
There are also four USB ports and three 12V power sockets for mobile charging.
And an Intel quad core processor, high-speed 60GB solid-state drive and fast Ethernet network keeps you connected while on the road.
It’s no surprise that the sleek Velar has been named among the top three finalists for the World Car of the Year and World Car Design titles.
Winners will be announced at the New York Auto Show on March 28.
It also received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating with high levels of safety equipment including autonomous emer-gency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with queue assist and adaptive speed limiter.