The Range Rover Velar is a very upscale premium SUV. Up to now, we’ve enjoyed it in both V6 petrol and diesel guise – the P380 petrol and D300 diesels deliver the multi-cylinder refinement you expect of a plush machine like this.
But we’re now well into the era of downsizing. We were a little disappointed with the relative refinement of the rattly four-cylinder D240 diesel: can the 2.0-litre P300 four-cylinder turbo petrol do a better job of convincing us you can still have luxury refinement without having a big V6 under the bonnet?
Land Rover offers two flavours of 2.0-litre engine. The P250 is the cheaper one and produces 247bhp. The P300 we’re trying puts of 296bhp, which is good for surprisingly brisk performance. 0-62mph is over a second faster than the four-cylinder diesel, and just 0.3 seconds shy of the P380 V6 petrol. Combined with a slick eight-speed gearbox, it serves up loads of seamless surge.
Sadly, it also serves up a bit of a droney engine note when worked hard, particularly when compared to the creamy V6. And although on-paper economy suggests over 36mpg, we struggled to manage 26mpg. It’s a huge drop – and leaves this downsized Velar’s real-world economy little better than the bigger V6 petrol…
Range Rover Velar P300 HSE
Engine: 4cyl, 1996cc, petrol
Power: 296bhp at 5500rpm
Torque: 295lb ft @ 1500rpm
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Top speed: 145mph
Official economy: 36.2mpg
CO2, tax band: 178g/km, 34%
It still drives nicely though, with light and precise steering and lots of grip from the standard four-wheel drive running gear. It’s not as sporty as something like a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X6 though, so will feel a bit cumbersome if you try to change direction as eagerly as you can in one of those.
The ride is plush, helped in our car by the £1140 option of adaptive air suspension. In Dynamic mode, this firms things up and cuts body roll, but it’s better in Comfort mode when, on the motorway, it becomes very settled and plush. With low levels of road and wind noise, the Velar is a very agreeable cruiser.
It’s just a pity the optional 21-inch alloy wheels of our test car struggled to cope with city centre surfaces at slower speeds. In Dynamic mode, it was much too harsh, and even in Comfort mode, it rarely truly settled.
It spoiled the Velar’s otherwise fine front cabin, which has plenty of space for adults, and a modern, stylish interior to mark it out from the competition. It would be nice if the infotainment systems were as easy to use as they are to look at, and quality is mixed, but the Velar’s bigger hindrances come in the rear: legroom for adults is limited and the boot is so-so as well.
Overall, the turbo engine isn’t bad. It’s smooth, quiet in town and performance is decent. But we still think the better Velar at the cheaper end of the range is the D240 diesel. No, it’s not as quiet or quick, but it is more economical and puts out less CO2.
We also still think that a six-cylinder Velar is better than either of them – this is a luxury car, and it deserves a luxury engine…