Driving position and dashboard
Top spec Velars come with 20-way electrically adjustable seats that move every which way, including for lumbar adjustment, and will even heat, cool and massage you. Add in plenty of movement for the steering wheel and it's easy to find a comfortable set-up. Put it this way: even after a few hours at the wheel, we still felt totally relaxed.
Sadly, entry-level models make do with eight-way manual adjustment without lumbar support unless you upgrade the entire seat. Thankfully S and SE cars get 14-way electrically adjustable seats including lumbar support. These might not be quite as adjustable as the 20-way items, but we found them comfortable even after a few hours in the saddle.
The settings for the air conditioning and various off-road driving modes are accessed through a low-mounted touchscreen, and switching between functions requires you to take your eyes off the road. Fortunately, the system is augmented by a pair of more intuitive rotary controllers that change function depending on which menu you’re in. SE models and above come with a 12.3in digital instrument cluster, similar to the Audi Q7’s Virtual Cockpit. It provides plenty of information clearly, but doesn’t look quite as slick as Audi’s system.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Thanks to a lofty driving position, the view straight out of the front and side are both good, but the thick windscreen pillars can obscure your vision at junctions. Seeing out the back isn’t that easy due to the small rear screen and thick rear pillars.
At least all Velars come with rear parking sensors, while S trim adds a rear-view camera as well. SE models upgrade this to a 360deg camera and blindspot monitor; these are optional on lesser models. And if you are really worried about parking, then there's always the HSE trim, which gets a park assist system that will locate a space and steer you into it. This is also an option on lower trim levels.
Sat nav and infotainment
All Velars get a pair of 10.0in touchscreens; one where you’d expect it to be, towards the top of the dashboard, and the other below it, just in front of the gear selector. This second screen is the one that you use to access the air conditioning and off-road modes, but you can also operate the multimedia system through it while the main screen continues to display the navigation.
However, we’ll focus on the top screen for this section as it deals with all the usual infotainment features. The graphics are sharp but while the menus prove easy enough to navigate when you’re stationary, they can be distracting and confusing to negotiate on the move due in part to its small icons. The Audi Q8 has a better touchscreen while the iDrive system of BMW’s X6 is even better thanks to being controlled via an intuitive rotary dial.
We’ve no complaints about the fit and finish on the outside of the Velar, but its interior is a bit of a mixed bag. High-spec models we’ve tested use plenty of soft leather on the seats, the top of the dashboard, the steering wheel and the top of the doors, but things are less impressive when you look lower down.
Although all the areas you regularly touch feel great, there’s scratchy plastic on the bottom of the door trims, around the door openings, on the front seatbacks and the sides of the centre console. That might be acceptable on a £20,000 hatchback, but not on an SUV that can cost north of £80,000.
It’s also worth remembering that much of the leather on the dashboard is part of an optional extended leather pack. Without this, the cowl for the instruments feels surprisingly flimsy. Thankfully, the top of the dash and doors are appealingly squidgy.