2018 Range Rover Velar P300 review – price, specs and release date
Does the stylish Range Rover Velar still work as a luxury SUV when fitted with a four-cylinder petrol engine? We've been finding out on UK roads...
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It seems odd, but the number of cylinders a car's engine has and how luxurious its driving experience is are very closely related. You see, it's all to do with how inherently balanced and smooth an engine is in operation. The general rule is: the more cylinders there are, the better.
When it comes to the Range Rover Velar luxury SUV, we've been impressed with the luxurious refinement of the six-cylinder petrol and diesel models – the P380 and D300 – we've tried already, but less so with the harsher four-cylinder D240 diesel version.
The question is, can this twin-turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, the P300, fulfil the Velar's luxury remit, given petrol power is traditionally more refined than diesel?
2018 Range Rover Velar P300 on the road
There are actually two turbocharged four-cylinder petrol options when buying a Velar: an entry-level P250 with 247bhp or the one we're driving here, the 296bhp P300.
Although there are fewer cylinders under the bonnet, the P300's performance is surprisingly brisk. Offically, it'll sprint from 0-62mph more than a second quicker than the D240 diesel, and it's only some 0.3sec slower than the range-topping six-cylinder P380 petrol. In practice, the P300 works well with the Velar's standard eight-speed auto gearbox and pulls strongly from low revs, remaining far smoother than the D240 all the way to its redline.
The downside is a harsh four-cylinder engine note under hard acceleration that isn't exactly in keeping with the Velar's luxury image. Also, while on paper the P300 has a combined fuel economy figure of 36.2mpg, we only managed around 26mpg, according to the trip computer, during our mixed test route. Optimistic official fuel economy figures are nothing new, but that's quite a drop and not far off what the P380 will manage in the real world.
Part of the reason for that is the Velar's bulk; it still weighs around 1800kg, despite its smaller petrol engine. Hustling this high-riding SUV down a country road can be done, but this is no sports car. The steering is light but precise, and there's a reassuring amount of grip from its standard all-wheel drive, but the Velar never feels particulalry agile or involving for the driver. In truth, no luxury SUV feels outright sporty, but the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and BMW X6 all feel more comfortable changing direction.
Although optional (£1140) adaptive air suspension is available on the P300, our test car was fitted with standard passive suspension. We'd add air if you can sretch to it, though, because on its standard suspension and fitted with optional (£830) 21in alloy wheels our car was very firm, sending those inside bobbing up and down over broken roads.
That said, at higher speeds on the motorway, things were better and the Velar manages to keep tyre roar and wind noise at bay.
2018 Range Rover Velar P300 interior
You'll find a full breakdown of the Velar's interior over at our full 16-point review. Click here to get detailed information on front and rear space, the Velar's boot and its seat flexibility.
In short, tall adults will have no problem with space in the front, while the driver gets a good driving position with lots of seat and wheel adustment and good visibility front and back – although standard parking sensors and a reversing camera help with the latter.
In the back, those same adults will have more of an issue. Head room, even with a panoramic roof in place, is good but leg room is limited – you'll find more rear space in a Q7 or X6. The Velar's boot is nothing special, either, with both aforementioned rivals offering more space.
Unfortunately, the Velar's infotainment system, which is made up of two 10.0in touchscreens, isn't as easy to use as those of its rivals, either, while interior quality is mixed. You can read more about why this is in the interior layout section of our full Velar review here.