There’s something about Range Rovers that’s difficult to explain.
I think it’s mostly their elegant design that sets them apart from the rest of the premium SUV contenders that often look like bigger and bulkier versions of their saloons.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call it art, but damn, they’re good looking.
They’re perfectly proportioned with smooth lines as if made of clay with nary a line to take away your gaze and the interior isn’t too shabby either.
We often get comments on some of the cars we test but every time we drive a Range Rover it’s as if people are more inclined to take a closer look.
That was also the case with the Range Rover Velar P400e Dynamic HSE which also happens to be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
There’s no obvious way to tell it’s a hybrid except for the two “fuel” flaps on either side of the car.
Under the hood sits a quiet 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that on its own produces 221kW and combined with the electric motor provides a total of 297kW.
The petrol mill supplies 400Nm and it’s good for a total of 640Nm coupled with the electric motor. It’s all connected to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that in true Land Rover fashion, drives all four 21-inch wheels and with ICE and electric in tandem should get you to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds, which isn’t bad considering its weight of 2.2 tons.
The interior is as you would expect, premium and extremely plush and in fact you feel almost guilty clustering it with phones, keys and water bottles.
It’s minimalistic to be sure, which is aesthetically pleasing to the eye but I do feel that a simple volume control dial wouldn’t have done any harm. Your only option is on the steering wheel or on the Pivi-Pro touchscreen which can become a hassle.
It’s less of a mission to set the air conditioning on the screen, but still, so I figure the designers have gone for form over function and in the process overloaded it.
Still, the graphics are crisp and clear and it’s quick to react to inputs.
A handy feature on the navigation system is a list of charging stations showing their distance from you, how many bays there are and what their rated kW is.
A shout out though to the Meridian sound system fitted as an option to our test unit. We had four adults in the car packed for a family gathering out of town and there was enough leg and headroom with cooler boxes and odds and sods stored behind the rear seats.
The Velar P400e is incredibly quiet and smooth even when it switches over to petrol, which is helped by active noise cancellation, and unlike some PHEVs the transition isn’t notable at all.
It’s not the quickest or most agile but behaves like a well-appointed Range Rover should. There’s no brutish showing off or cornering shenanigans. The steering is accurate and light, and in tight parking you can literally swing it from side to side with one swing of the steering wheel.
If you do want to add a bit of spice you can change to Sport Mode which tightens it up, lowers the body and sends more power to the rear wheels.
But you almost feel as though you’re disrespecting it, rather preferring to cruise along gently, allowing the air suspension to gobble up road perfections and pesky suburban speed bumps.
And because it’s a Land Rover it has more than enough off-road toys to prevent it from becoming stuck (the air suspension lifts it) with the head-up display showing you articulation, angles and a few other handy information bits.
I doubt very much though that average Velar owners, especially PHEV owners, will be heading to rough mountain trails and will more likely be at home in bespoke lodges with well graded gravel roads.
It has an electric range of 69 kilometres but expect a real world range of closer to 55 kilometres depending on how you drive and you have to be almost manic with the charging routine to keep it juiced up. The regenerative braking helps to a degree but not really enough to make a significant difference.
If you do keep it charged while at home, the office or at dedicated charging bays and you basically drive like Miss Daisy you could theoretically get the claimed consumption of 2.2l/100km but once the battery runs out and you do a lot of highway driving expect figures of between 7-8l/100km.
At R2 202 700, it’s a whack of cash but if I was in that space I would take it over any of the opposition in a heartbeat.