2020 Range Rover Velar P250 review: price, specs and release date
You’re looking at our Coupe SUV of the Year, albeit one with a small difference. Does a new entry-level petrol engine in the Range Rover Velar P250 make it even more appealing?...
Priced from £45,260 On sale Now
With great power comes great responsibility – and by that, we mean having to pay more in fuel costs and having higher CO2 emissions on your conscience. So the arrival of a new entry-level 2.0-litre petrol engine for the Range Rover Velar P250 looks to be a relatively justifiable option for those that want to ditch diesel.
But it’s the 178bhp diesel-powered Velar D180 that is our 2020 What Car? Coupé SUV of the Year, and offers better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. So why would you opt for petrol power? Well, with the demonisation of diesel – which has some cities, such as Bristol, threatening to ban the presence of diesel cars altogether – some may be leaning back towards petrol, even when considering a large four-wheel-drive SUV. The P250 is also cheaper to buy outright than the similarly powerful, mid-range diesel Velar D240.
So how does it fit into the range, and is it indeed a worthy alternative to our range favourite? Read on to find out more. And don’t forget to visit our New Car Buying pages to find the best price – whichever engine you decide on.
2020 Range Rover Velar P250 on the road
An output of 248bhp might sound like a decent amount of shove, but in a car as big as the Velar, it's not enough to make it feel particularly fast. Sure, on paper it’s quicker than the diesel D180, heaving from 0-62mph nearly two seconds more swiftly, but this petrol engine needs to be worked hard before things actually feel as brisk as the numbers suggest. Lacking the low-down pull of the D180, it feels less urgent when moving away from a standstill. At least the P250’s engine is smooth, with a power delivery that's free of noticeable peaks and troughs.
More of a problem, though, is the Velar’s automatic gearbox. As with a lot of modern ‘boxes, there's a noticeable delay when you want it to change between gears, so you’re often left waiting when trying to make a gap in traffic, for example. When your command is finally acknowledged, the resultant lurch forward makes pulling forward in traffic a fraught experience. Thankfully it’s nowhere near as dimwitted as those you'll find in certain rivals, such as the more expensive Audi Q8. Things are helped by switching the gearbox into Sports mode, though: this sharpens up its responses and makes it slightly snappier to react. If you really get frustrated, you can take control of the gear changes yourself using the steering-wheel mounted paddles.
Our test car came with Range Rover’s ‘adaptive dynamics’ pack, which monitors the conditions of the road and adjusts the suspension appropriately; depending on the surface and how the car is driven, the adjustments can promote a softer ride or firm up the handling while tightening up body control. It proves more supple than the BMW X4 or Mercedes GLC Coupe do on their standard springs, giving a wafty but composed ride over undulating roads. However, potholes and other surface imperfections still cause the Velar to fidget, especially with the bigger 21in wheels fitted here.
The handling is also typical Range Rover – that is to say, there’s considerable body lean around corners and you can feel its heft swaying when you tackle a roundabout. It betrays its size a lot more than the stiffer, sportier Q8, that’s for sure. That said, its steering is smooth, especially when manoeuvring around town, and, though light, still offers enough precision to help you place the car's hefty nose where you want it.
The P250's engine doesn’t sound strained, even under harder acceleration, and at a cruise, it quietens down all together. Wind and road noise are also well contained, allowing for a calming and cosseting experience inside. You won’t feel too much vibration through the steering wheel or pedals, either.
2020 Range Rover Velar P250 interior
The Velar's interior looks smart and more expensive than that of the BMW X4. However, poke around further and you’ll find that some of the plastics feel a little flimsy, plus you’ll find some panel gaps and dashboard creaks that show it’s not quite as well screwed together as the X4 or Audi Q8.
All Velars get a pair of 10.0in touchscreens mounted one atop the other in the centre of the dashboard. The lower screen is used 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 sat-nav. Both screens are sharp, with smart-looking graphics and responsive inputs. Despite that, though, we still prefer systems with physical buttons or rotary dials, such as the class-leading iDrive setup in the BMW X4.
There’s also plenty of space inside regardless of where you’re sitting; drivers should have no problem getting comfy with the 14-way electrically adjustable seats, with power-recline rear seats standard on SE trim. That there’s also plenty of headroom and shoulder room means front passengers won’t feel too hemmed in.
In the back, there’s easily enough head space for six-footers, despite the sloping coupe roof, even with a panoramic roof fitted. Leg room isn’t quite so generous, though, especially with a taller driver in front.