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Range Rover Velar SE R-Dynamic P380 2018 review

There comes a time, in every car reviewer’s life, where she gets to drive the brand new Range Rover. For a whole week. 

This was my first foray into Rangie territory, and I tested the new model, the Velar. It’s bigger than the Evoque, but smaller than the Sport, and I got the middle of the range petrol version to take to work, the school run and of course figure out how to get the most out of the car before I had to return it.

With so much going on at home - Christmas coming, the school term finishing, plus playdates, ballet concerts and swimming lessons coming out of my ears, I decided this week I needed to focus on me - to get healthy and re-energise for the busy weeks to come. And I had the Range Rover Velar for the challenge. Here’s how it went over my week of being good to myself. 

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How does it drive?

With pleasure, is how I’d best describe it. It’s smooth and so so quiet. Think of it like a big cat. I was stuck in traffic directly under the flight path where the planes are so low it feels like they’re flying through the trees, but all I had to do was shut the windows and it honestly felt like I was in my living room. Stealth.

Shut the windows and it's as quiet as being in your living room. Shut the windows and it's as quiet as being in your living room.

It’s also powerful. You would think a car this size would take a while to respond but it takes just a moment to pounce off the mark. Speaking of size, it's quite large and high which make me feel super confident on the road and remarkably safe, always a good thing when you’re shipping kids around, but it will take a few days to get used to. 

The size does not affect the car’s parking ability, however. The steering is so responsive that I squeezed into more than a few tight spots this week without any trouble - the reverse parking camera is HD so it’s basically like you’re watching a movie out the back. If this car were a celebrity, it would be The Rock. Strong and solid, but gosh, it looks good in a suit and is surprisingly agile. 

How does it look?

It’s one of the best looking large SUVs around, with sleek curves, slim headlights and rose gold accents on the exterior. But the coolest thing is that it’s customisable, to the point where there are around 50 options on the car so you can personalise it and basically make it your own - if you're willing to pay for it of course.

The Velar looks amazing and is very customisable, for a price... The Velar looks amazing and is very customisable, for a price...

Choose from six different engines, a bunch of different wheels, a whole variety of colour combinations and a zillion options, so by the time you’ve finished, you’ve basically designed your own car.

Inside is stunning. The centre console shines with glee when you turn the car on, and the two 10-inch touchscreens are super high-res, the pictures are exactly what they should be in 2018.

The inside is stunning. The inside is stunning.

There is shiny black everywhere you look and it’s all been designed beautifully. In front of the steering wheel is a digital dashboard (no more physical meters telling you how fast you’re driving) that is also customisable. 

The steering wheel is leather and feels good to touch - one of my favourite things about a car. If the steering wheel feels great, I’m instantly happier while I’m driving. The leather seats have the perfect huggability factor and are also heated and cooled. 

The model I drove came with an enormous sunroof which opens automatically when you turn the car on, and the seat moves into position as you get ready to take off. The sunroof has a glare adjustment, so it’s not letting the full harshness of the Australian sun into the car. 

Everything is in reaching distance. I don’t have to think too much about where to turn the volume up, or reach over for anything. They have pretty much thought of everything.

How spacious is it?

There is what I like to call your own airspace for each person. So, in the front, you have your own airspace in the driver’s seat and the passenger also has their own airspace. You’re not breathing each other’s air. Nice. There’s also plenty of legroom for me and my 185cm husband. The cabin is light and breezy. 

It will actually fit three children's car seats in the back. It will actually fit three children's car seats in the back.

In the back it’s the same story. My two girls, aged four and six, have plenty of room, they are practically swinging around in there - before they’re buckled in of course. It will also actually fit three children's car seats in the back, rather than just saying they fit. 

And the boot is huge. It’s 673 litres, which is one of the biggest I’ve come across in a five seater. With all the seats down, that jumps to 1731 litres. So big I can have a lie down in it, in my week of treating myself. 

The boot is huge. It's 673 litres. The boot is huge. It's 673 litres.

But more useful than that, I can fit whatever the kids need in the boot without working up a sweat trying to jigsaw puzzle things in there. Their bikes, the groceries, a double pram, it all goes in without much fuss.

How safe is it?

While there are loads of options on offer, all the important safety features come standard on the Velar SE. There’s Auto Emergency Braking, which stops the car automatically if it thinks you’re going to run into something, plus things like lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control

It has six airbags with side curtain airbags extending to the back seats, and there are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points for children’s car seats. The Velar hasn’t been assessed yet by ANCAP or EuroNCAP.

How easy is it for everyday use?

Well, I didn’t want to get out of it, if that’s any indication. My absolute favourite thing is that the boot opens automatically with a kick. Now, you do have to kick a certain way and in the right spot, but once you’ve read the manual, you’ll nail it.

The boot is high off the ground, but the back lowers automatically when loading groceries. The boot is high off the ground, but the back lowers automatically when loading groceries.

This means that when you’re overloaded carrying THINGS (ie, children, the groceries, the extra bag your toddler made you bring full of rocks), you can just kick under the car, behind the rear wheel and the boot will open. On its own. No bull. 

The boot is quite high off the ground which I noticed instantly: this is going to be hard to lift heavy bags into, I thought. But then the back of the car lowered automatically as I was loading groceries. Thanks for that, Range Rover.

There are three cupholders in the front (one is hidden under a shiny panel) because we all need more than one cupholder each, right? I do. Plus two cupholders in the back. The bottle holders in the doors have been designed to carry 750ml bottles. And there is an option to get a chilled gloved box, if you’re the type to want to bring healthy salads with you on road trips while everyone else gets Maccas. Just me? 

What's the tech like?

It’s advanced. The two 10-inch multimedia screens are high resolution and they are touchscreens that work instantly. None of this touching the screen a number of times to prompt it. If anything, it’s sensitive and I changed the air conditioning setting and the driving mode accidentally on my first drive. This stops after a few days though as you settle into the car, and the whole tech system becomes easy to use and works in wonderful harmony. 

We also need to talk about the sound system because there are 17 speakers in the Velar SE and the sound is incredible. I turned up the volume as often as possible while I was alone (read: twice) and really let loose.

It’s such a great stress-buster, especially for parents who rarely get me-time, and helps you reconnect to that person you were before children. Even if it’s just for two minutes. 

You can opt up to get a rear entertainment screen, but my children were happy without it. They were so impressed with the purple 'ambience' lights that hazily appeared under the door handles come nighttime, they forgot all about a screen. 

What does it cost to drive?

You do pay for all of this. The Velar I drove is $119,462 as standard, with $10,800 worth of extras (including the very excellent, but oh so pricey sliding panoramic roof I pointed out earlier for $4370). For a large car it’s reasonable on fuel but at these prices I don’t think the fuel cost is what you’re going to be concerned about. The claimed fuel efficiency is 12.7L/100km on the combined cycle. 

It comes with a standard three year/100,000 km warranty and Land Rover’s 24-hour roadside assistance throughout that period, and there is scheduled servicing for up to five years or 100,000km.

The Wrap

Range Rover have delivered a beautiful family car that feels as good to drive as it looks. It’s got excellent interior space without compromising on agility while driving and parking, and has a luxurious feeling that lasts long after you exit the car. The advanced technology and attention to detail is fabulous. 

Of course, you are paying for all of this amazingness, which is why I give it 8.5 stars out of 10 and my children gave it 8 bikes out of 10. They loved the space and the fancy multimedia screen.


Luxury interior
Smooth, quiet driving
Incredible stereo and boot space






The Kids:


$69,990 - $128,450

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