Velour? No, Range Rover Velar Si6

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Range Rover Velar Si6.

  • The Weekend Australian Magazine
  • 12:00AM June 16, 2018

Columnist

London

@jeremyclarkson

Understanding Land Rover’s range of cars used to be quite simple. If you got muddy for a living, either by rearing sheep or shooting people with machine guns, you had a Defender. If you were a duke, you had a Range Rover, and if you were a murderer you had a Discovery.

But then one day the bosses realised something important. People prefer working in IT to getting muddy, there are only 24 non-royal dukes in Britain and most of the murderers are in jail. So they decided to branch out. And they kept on branching out, so now it is simply impossible to work out which model is for whom.

You have what I call the proper Range Rover, which is now driven by everyone I know and everyone they’ve ever met as well. It’s brilliant. Slightly below this, there’s the Range Rover Sport, and lower down still you have the Evoque and the weird Evoque convertible. What that’s for, I’ve no idea. Clay pigeon shooting on the move, maybe.

After this, things get really complicated, because you have the Discovery, which I think is for people who want their car to look as though it’s had a stroke. And then there’s the Discovery Commercial, which is for people who don’t want any back seats, and the Discovery Sport, which is smaller than the normal Discovery and is for… er, I have no idea.

You might imagine that when you have a line-up as extensive as this, there’d be no chance of squeezing another one in. But Land Rover has.

They’ve called it the Range Rover Velar, which is stupid as people like me are going to call it the Velour. And while that’s a fabulous seat fabric, it’s a terrible name.

I was going to be petulant and simply ignore the Velar, but then I saw one. I was strolling down the Embankment in London, ignoring the velvet Ferraris and lime green Lamborghinis, when it came crawling past, and it stopped me dead in my tracks because, stylistically, it’s up there with the Ford Escort Mk 2. That is not an insult. If you actually looked at a Mk 2 while wearing a beret and sitting at an easel, you’d conclude that, while it may have been as unspecial as a Coca-Cola bottle, it was every bit as good-looking. The Velar pulls off the same trick. Yes, it’s just a five-door SUV, but look at its lines, look at its detailing, look at its proportions and its stance. And then you’ll be forced to agree that it is one of the five best-looking cars ever made.

It’s so good looking that, while I was considering a replacement for my Volkswagen Golf GTI the other day, it wouldn’t leave my head. So I asked Land Rover if I could borrow one for a few days. It arrived fairly soon in Byron Blue, the very colour I wanted. And, God, it looked good.

Inside, it looked even better. The seats had been made from some kind of recycled material that’s kind to polar bears, and that’s lovely. But what I cared about most was how they looked and how soft they felt. I wanted to rub my face on them.

Instead I climbed aboard and touched stuff. You want to touch everything because it’s all just so beautiful – the two displays, the knobs, the air vents – and then you look up and the roof is all glass and you want to touch that, too. Getting back into an ordinary car afterwards is like stepping from the cockpit of a modern-day Boeing 787 Dreamliner into the nose of a Halifax bomber. That interior? I’ve never seen better.

I was sold. And that’s the trick Land Rover has pulled off with the Velour. You want one no matter what the price, because after you lock it, you’ll never tire of turning round for one last look before you go through the front door.

Fast facts Range Rover Velar Si6

Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol (280kW/450Nm).

Average fuel 9.4 litres per 100km

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

Price: From $93,462

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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