When the Velar officially launched in 2017, the fourth model Range Rover brought additional glamour, modernity and elegance to the family - a statement highlighted by it winning the 2018 World Car Design of the Year.
With the design all sorted, the brand's electrical gurus have recently taken another look, and we got our hands on the result - the new Range Rover Velar P400e R-DYNAMIC SE PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle).
The Velar is a mid-size luxury SUV that sits between the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport in their family line-up. Not only does it offer their customers the perfect balance of jaw-dropping design and state-of-the-art technology, but it now comes with an electrically plugged-in heart.
Virtually the entire new Range Rover Velar range now comes with mild-hybrid assisted (48v) powertrains, but the one we really wanted to get our hands on (as the local distributors have loaded it with all the goodies) was the PHEV.
Let's get the electric stuff out of the way first. The Plug-In Hybrid Range Rover Velar 'P400e' offers an all-electric (EV only) range of 53km and only emits CO2s at a rate of 68g/km (WLTP), so it's both efficient and environmentally friendly.
Under the bonnet sits both a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder ICE engine (221kW) and when combined with its 105kW electric motor, the totals escalate to 297kW/640 Nm. This all equates to an off-the-line-to-100km/h speed of 5.4 seconds - so stylish and damned quick.
Powering the electric motor is a 17.1kWh lithium-ion battery which is located under the boot floor, which according to Range Rover, can be charged to 80 percent in just 30 minutes using a fast DC charge point, or one hour and 40 minutes using a standard 7kW wallbox - yes, my friends, it can take both. Plus it can also draw on the ICE engine to charge, but I'll get to more on that in a moment.
What's more, provided you avail yourself with some plug-in energy, you'll be able to whizz past your local fuel pump too. The fuel economy is good for up to 2.2 litres/100km - although I personally didn't get to that number due to having a heavy foot and blasting the A/C.
Moving inside, the new Velar's infotainment system has been updated with the new Pivi Pro. It's designed around ease of use, with a simple interface reducing the number of interactions to enhance safety. This updated version has crisp new graphics and super-fast responsiveness thanks to a dedicated power source. An embedded data connection means you have access to the latest maps, apps and vehicle software modules with updates scheduled via the touchscreen at a time to suit them - software updates can now be done 'over-the-air', reducing the need to visit a retailer.
The 3D parking cameras are mesmerising and provide a view of the Velar from any angle at the touch of a button. It's supposed to switch off when on the move but for some reason, mine didn't and allowed me to see me on the road - damn, I looked good.
Keeping with the screens, the lower screen - the area that essentially handles the cabin temperature and comfort - is also where you find the driving modes (everything from Eco to Dynamic and Off-Road options too - this is a Land Rover at heart after all), as well as your EV/battery settings. Hybrid has the Velar automatically switching between ICE and battery when it deems necessary. EV keeps your stylish Range Rover from emitting any harmful gases, and Save, where the ICE becomes an energy provider for all.
There's more EV info on the top infotainment screen, which aside from giving you charging data, will also give you an EV driving score, energy usage, eco tips and history, while the instrument cluster comes to the EV party with battery range estimates and energy splits.
At low revs, in slow-moving congested traffic, the Hybrid mode is a little stuttery as it best serves your most fossil-fuel frugal desires - I'd recommend using EV. But from there on in, it's just the sweetest of rides.
I actually needed to head to Hampton Downs during my test time and I must say, there's something disconcerting about travelling on SH1 at around 100km/h and seeing the rev needle on 0. Plus, thanks to its Active Road Noise Cancellation (mics in the wheel arches sending modulated sound to the cabin), the ride is so quiet it would shame a church mouse.
It's a smooth ride too, gracefully tackling both the highways and country roads with a touch of British upper-class, raising its nose at pesky uneven tarmac surfaces. The elevated driving position, leather furniture and piano black trim all combine to give you a wonderful driving experience. You can breathe easy too as there's also a new Cabin Air Filtration system on-board to keep away any nasties.
The new Range Rover Velar P400e is as modern as they come, is loaded with extras and offers a confident, efficient ride. Seriously, what else would you expect?
Why you should: It's a stylish Range Rover that's a smooth and quiet ride, more capable off road than you are and probably cleverer.
Why you shouldn't: Slow-moving traffic is its nemesis but a flick to EV only and you're sorted.
What else to consider: There are a number of big and medium-sized luxury SUVs out there but few offer the added benefits of PHEV and Land Rover off-road heritage. Depending on your requirements, take a look at th eBMW X3/X5 es, Volvo XC90 Recharge, Porsche Cayenne Hybrid. There's also a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe PHEV (hopefully) on its way and a Porsche Macan EV.