The Cost of Entry

Here’s one you won’t find in the brochure.

The disappointing reality. Entry level.  (c) DTW

We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives, have we not? You want something so badly, you feel there’s almost no privation you wouldn’t endure to obtain it. Rationality be damned; even to the point of detriment, just as long as you achieve that goal, attract that person, leave that economic/ trading union, buy those shoes, have that car.

The Range Rover Velar is the sort of vehicle which elicits unfettered yearnings amongst those susceptible to its charms. It’s a striking looking thing I grant you, albeit one which for this scribe has diminished in visual appeal over the period following its announcement. There is a little too much contrivance and not enough substance to its demeanour, I might suggest, and while elements of its shape appeal, its frontal aspect has always appeared gauche and somewhat ill-fitting the Range Rover nameplate.

The cost of entry to the Velar club has always been high, this being time-honoured JLR practice, given that brand-RR is the Warwickshire-based carmaker’s ticket to ride. So much so it is believed, that JLR was forced to moderate its rapacious claims during the model’s early months, owing to customer resistance. It’s difficult to say how successful the Velar has been; they’re certainly a regular enough sight on London’s roads, if not to the extent I might have predicted.

Rarer still however are examples like this one – gentlemen and ladies both, I give you boggo-Velar. Or, to put it in old-school Ford trim-level terms, the Velar L. Now, the mid-Ranger is at the best of times rather colour and specification-sensitive. Get both right and it can look rather distinguished, but ill-considered choices in either arena can lead to something which falls some way short of fascination.

What we have here are the standard-fit 17” wheel option. Alloy, for what it’s worth, not that this means much nowadays. These are generic JLR base-model fitment, shared also by Jaguar on their entry-level vehicles. As such there are worse out there (Mercedes for example), but nonetheless they are rather mean looking – especially on something as high-sided and tall (despite RR’s protestations of being its most car-like model) as this.

Indeed, from some angles, this example appeared to be on castors rather than wheels. Taken alongside the white paintwork (some of you might disagree, but no fan am I of this colourway), the Velar thus captured screamed ‘I cast a fleeting glance at the options list and shut it again very quickly’.

The dreamscape.  (c) : Daily Express

Now it goes without saying that on 17-inchers the unsprung weight is less, with all the benefits this brings for steering, cornering control, stability and (one assumes) ride. (Although the latter is questionable with the stiffness of tyre sidewalls these days). But by heavens, one pays a visual price.

This is the point where design and marketing collide, recognise the incompatibility of their respective positions, and then go to their respective corners to sulk. I of course understand that carmakers are in the business to make money and this is simply sound business practice. Up-sell, up-sell and furthermore, up-sell.

But surely entry-level models such as this do more harm than good, painting the vehicle in the least flattering light – (mind you, I’ve seen one in this spec finished in black and honestly folks, that’s a whole other dimension of awful.)

But on the other hand, perhaps this serves to do the opposite. To mortify the prospective buyer (or leasee) to dig that little deeper into the specification chart while at the same time rummaging further into their bank accounts. Could this be the true cost of entry?

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

35 thoughts on “The Cost of Entry”

  1. Good morning, Eóin. It is always instructive to peruse the approved used selection on the manufacturer’s website to get a sense of what colours and options have been popular or otherwise with buyers. As you might expect, the vast majority of Velars are running on optional larger wheels, but there are two examples on standard 17″ items and they’re both in non-metallic black:

    You’re right about the colour: black does the Velar no favours at all, making it look rather blocky and dull. Regarding the wheel size, is it simply the case that we are so accustomed to seeing the “aspirational” up-market versions of much smaller cars on large wheels that makes the Velar look so under-wheeled? How much does the rather weak looking design, with those multiple thin spokes, contribute to the unsatisfactory appearance, and is this a deliberate strategy on the part of JLR?

    Our Mini looks good on its optional 17″ wheels. For me, the standard 15″ items were not only too small, but of a (deliberately?) ugly and cheap looking design that made them a non-starter for me. Mini extracted about £1,200 from us for the upgrade, which must have been 90% pure profit for the company. Unlike the Velar, there are lots of Minis running around on the standard items, so we (me, really) might have been unusually sensitive in this case.

    It’s an interesting dilemma for manufacturers: does fitting ugly looking standard wheels harm sales by making potential buyers look elsewhere, or enhance profitability by coercing those buyers to upgrade?

  2. Here’s the Jaguar I-Pace on the same standard fit 17″wheels, from the Jaguar approved used website:

    It’s facing the wall, apparently ashamed of its appearance and trying not to be noticed…

    1. If I was looking for a vaguely SUV electric car and based on styling alone I would probably choose a Mazda MX30 rather than an I-Pace for example. The MX30 was one of my favourite car at the Tokyo show this year. The more ‘Latin’ front and back ends are a bit at odds with the more modern and angular profile but I would buy it just for that headlights-grille-bonnet combo alone. Gorgeous. I like this return to smaller, upright grilles that are a bit recessed from a razor-sharp bonnet, as seen the the 508 II and the brand new, just revealed, Kia Optima for example.

      MX-30

    2. Talking about the new Optima, did you see the way its grille is built ? I don’t think I’ve ever seen something quite like it, the way the grille descends into the bumper, quite unusual.

  3. This is all a matter of taste not to mention practicality. There will be some who may prefer the look of smaller wheels and don’t won’t the constant stress of kerb damage from blingy large wheels which imho look ridiculous on a large 4×4. The key for me is does the vehicle look “under tyred “ and it both examples you have shown, the wheel arch appears to be filled which is not always the case with some manufacturers. I will admit to it being a different debate on a sports car.

  4. Humans are funny little things, aren’t we? With a brand new Velar weighing in at over £45k and road tax at nigh on 500 quid, someone must think “That’ll do, I’m NOT ticking any more boxes, spent enough.” And that person would have a fully capable and handsome vehicle. But we all know we WANT to spend more on the lucrative extras. Take Daniels example: twelve hundred on fancier wheels. Ker-ching went the salesman., dealership, factory. You pays yer money…
    Most Velars near me appear to be Corris grey SE or above. Now at a shade over two years since their arrival, one can snap up an approved used for a shade over thirty grand. For that “Ford L” version, obviously. I’d love to see a dealer principal s face when asked for a boggo or L version! “ But sir, madam, there’s no such thing. Yes, it’s fridge white, smaller wheels than that one but you’re entering the rarefied world of Land Rover. You can always upgrade those wheels should you wish…?”

    1. Options can have a really disproportionate effect on lease/PCP repayment costs. They do almost nothing for the resale value, so the finance company will amortise the full cost of them over the term of the agreement. £1k for paint, £2k for wheels, and £4k on some other desireables will have you paying nearly £300 a month extra on a 24 month term and £200 on a 36 month. This would likely be a 50% uplift over base spec on many two year lease deals on a Velar.

    2. You’re absolutely right, David. I remember back in my company car days ordering a new E30 BMW 325i convertible. The car, with black leather seats and electric folding roof came to pretty much my monthly leasing allowance. Being a 1990’s BMW, it didn’t even come with a radio as standard, so I asked what the additional monthly cost would be for a particular Radio/CD player, including speakers and installation. The figure was a shocker: knowing the cash cost of this unit including installation and working backwards, I calculated that, not only was the leasing company charging me the full cost (i.e. fully depreciating the cost over the three-year lease period) it was also charging me interest on the “loan” to buy and install the unit at a rate of about 40%. Needless to remark, I took delivery of the car without a radio and got a local audio company to supply and install the unit at my cost. As it was mine, I could have removed and kept it at the end of the lease, but didn’t bother.

  5. The 17″ wheels at least look like they might survive the odd pothole. Personally I dislike the look of liquorice strip tyres.

  6. Eóin your thoughts have struck a chord with me. We currently have two cars, both ‘basic’, specified with absolutely nothing extra at all. In a similar fashion to the Velar it would appear that this makes my XC60 quite an unusual beast as I drive around spotting others.

    We have mere 17″ alloys (which are ‘proper’ rather than those corrosion prone, vulgar diamond-cut larger things) and no chrome trim around the DLO. The latter was a positive choice as Mrs T and I prefer the non-chrome look in conjunction with our wheels. Virtually all others I see have dark tinted windows and chrome DLO trim which come together as a ‘pack’ out of the factory. We did decide to have the dealer apply a partial tint (lighter than the Volvo version) to the rear windows but that’s it.

    And as Andrew points out, we have a ‘fully capable and handsome vehicle’. What really raises it above most of the others in my eyes was actually a no-cost option and can’t be seen from outside; amber leather upholstery. The vast majority of others have either dismal black or cold ‘blond’. We have a lovely light but warm environment in which we waft around, feeling very pleased but not attracting attention with lots of bling.

    The other ‘basic’? A Clio 0.9TCE. Bog standard, white. Looks basic and by current standards I suppose it is.

    So in summary that’s one car that looks quite basic compared to most of its breed but is actually a pretty luxurious vehicle, and one car that doesn’t stand out as basic even though it really is…..

  7. This thing isn’t worth considering at all if you are half aware and you know, actually scout the internet a bit before purchasing/leasing or whatever PCP is.

    https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a25574981/2018-range-rover-velar-reliability-maintenance-20k-update/

    “While our perseverance for informative reporting kept the Range Rover Velar in our garage for far longer than we imagine many buyers would tolerate, a pretty face or not, we don’t miss it now that it’s gone.”

    Nothing but trouble from beginning to end, an absolute stinker. Who cares what it looks like if it’s designed and assembled with such lack of attention to detail? If Car and Driver, a commercially driven magazine/website prone to giving praise where it’s not earned to keep up advertising revenue finds the Velar horrible, then you’d better believe it was basically completely unfit for purpose and an overpriced joke. JLR seems to lead the way in presenting underdeveloped horrors to the market.

    It’s not the first time JLR products have been found to be rubbish, and the Chinese even rebelled a year ago about execrable quality, primarily causing that $4 billion loss in a quarter. So I seriously wonder why there’s discussion of the Velar’s worth and options list if it’s nothing but a poseur and not worth the trouble of consideration in the first place. Yup, it beats me. I just don’t get it.

    1. From the review:

      “The additional cost of certain ancillary charges related to those dealer visits, such as a hefty $187 to have three new wiper blades installed, furthered our appreciation for the Range Rover’s modest level of (expected) upkeep.”

      Wow.

  8. Ford L Spec you had popular and popular plus before you reached the luxury of L Spec !
    Remember the Sierra base with an un painted grill ?

  9. I really must ask if I am the only one here that doesn’t fancy the Velar? – well except Bill who doesn’t even consider it to be a real automobile!
    I find its design more accomplished and interesting, appealing to the logical part of my brain -left/right, upper/down, little/much….not very sure about this whole Neuroscience topic. Now, what emotions does it arouse to me when I see one…well not that many or nothing much.
    I saw two of them last week. The first, a white one, entering a car parking place. It hat a really hard time finding a spot, a single one seemed out of the question. It even gave it a try or two, well, that was a cry business. The little white dinosaur left and tried somewhere else, rattling its way at low revs and high decibels. It must have been a diesel, if not, I don’t know, I already feel sorry enough for the young driver.
    The second one came and parked outside a cafe where a kind of festivity was going to take place. A grey one with some black lines, looking quite smooth. It must have had quite a few EXTRAS added on its price list. But the biggest EXTRA was the lady who stepped down from the drivers seat. Dressed in some peculiarly geschnitten pieces of leather and cloth, wearing some kind of pointed stilletos made out of only black net covering some of their front end, and immediately starting the arrangement of the Festival’s decoration, well she and her Velar really matched together- and not even a slight sense of irony is intented here, dear sirs.
    If I was RR I would include her in the long list of options, of course as the most expensive! But I know that, fortunately, it’s not a valid option – at the very least during the last two centuries of most of humanity! and thank Got for that.
    So, where does this leave our Velar now?

    1. Fancy the Velar or not? I was a bit hesitant at the beginning – I’m not into SUVs at all, but in this case I tended to be a bit more forgiving: at least the format matches the brand. The interior options were what made me like this car in the first place. A strong point of the interior is that when you’re in it, you don’t see the ungainly, too long and too up-sweeping rear overhang.

      The longer I looked at the car however, the less fond I was. The reports here don’t help, either. And the black ones are truly horrible – gone is the floating roof effect, and the odd, rounded shape of the third side window becomes extremely irritating – especially in lighting conditions where its wide black border and the minuscule effective area become visible.

  10. Having unearthed the brochure, I note that the standard wheel size for the Velar is in fact 18″. Prospective buyers have one wheel option in this size – a ten, rather than 15-spoke design, which to these eyes more closely resembles a plastic wheeltrim. In the Velar options list, there are two distinct 18″ choices, two 19″ options (identical design, different colour finishes), five 20″ choices, four 21″ options and five 22″ styles to choose from.

    Nevertheless, I must point out that it is not the wheel diameter that is at issue here. Either a 17 or 18″ wheel ought to be sufficient. The issue is one of style and how that subtly nudges the purchaser towards larger, more expensive wheel options.

    1. Hi Eoin,

      Peugeot does the same with the free paint on the new 208. Yellow is the only colour you can get for free on the base model so it forces customers to pay to even have a white one.

    2. Good morning, Eóin. I think you’re right: the thin and insubstantial style of those 18″ wheels is very much to blame for the fact that both the Velar and I-Pace look so “under-wheeled” on them. Even the 10-spoke 18″ option, a £400 option which does, as you say, resemble a plastic wheel trim, looks more substantial. However, I could find no cars at all on those wheels. It appears that, once a potential owner decides to upgrade the standard wheels, they are easily persuaded to spend a lot more on larger items.

      Here’s (hopefully) a page from the Land-Rover configurator showing a black Velar on the optional 18″ items. (The configurator does not allow you to save or share images.)

      https://orderyour.landrover.co.uk/summaryPage?nameplate=l560&externalId=rc%2Flr2%2Fen_gb%2Fl560_k20%2F_%2Fa-2td4_a-l560_a-swb_sp0%2Fn-029yf_n-1at-20&attributes%5BbodyStyle%5D=A-SWB&attributes%5Bmodel%5D=A-L560&attributes%5BspecPack%5D=SP0&attributes%5Bengine%5D=A-2TD4&attributes%5BexteriorColour%5D=N-1AT-20&journey=bto

  11. Ha ha, yes it should hide in shame. Dare I say that I don’t really like the I Pace ? I don’t hate it either but I never really gelled with it. Perhaps the impression of thin metal and short hooked nose. It’s all the more surprising because Iam usually very lenient and easily persuaded when it comes to car design, I can get pretty excited for a new Kia Picanto for god’s sake.

    1. In fact, maybe the main issue I have with the I-Pace exterior styling is the dated futurism, if that makes sense. It looks as if it was the idea of a futuristic car as imagined on a 1990’s era concept car to me.

    2. The LQ interior does an interesting thing with the IP and A-pillars. Instead of trying to hide the offset between the base of the front screen and the base of the side glass the designers worked with it. And it´s nicely, boldly assymetrical.
      The benday dots add a Po-Mo touch. Am I being too generous?

    3. Interesting remark Richard. I hadn’t even looked at the interior. It’s different, maybe a little claustrophobic because of the high and blocky dashboard ?

      One thing that caught my eye on the LQ is the 3 pointed ‘star’ that appear all over the exterior and interior. It’s similar to this year’s Mercedes EQS concept and I thought Mercedes was using its own logo but without the circle (which I thought was strange) but in fact it’s a (trendy ?) motif maybe ?

    4. Hi NRJ. On the subject of the I-Pace, I’m not really a huge fan either. Coincidentally, I was stopped at traffic lights next to one today, on the standard 18″ wheels and in a rather dreary dark red or wine colour. The thing that really caught my eye was the HUGE gap between the tyre and the wheel arch. Does a vehicle that will never go off road really need so much suspension travel? The huge radius of the wheel arches is why it looks under-wheeled (over-wheelarched, to be precise), even on the 18″items.

      Here’s a similar one, which shows what I mean:

    5. The I-pace does look like it’s on stilts alright

      If you take away the fancy transparent doors of the LQ it looks like WV’s ID3, it even has similar graphics around the C-pillar. I noticed other car-makers seem to copy the shape of the VW Group’s concept cars of a couple of years ago, the ones that shared the same shape for VW, Skoda and Seat’s concept cars. Of all the shapes and freedom that ICE-free cars can now permit they had to copy VW which, itself, kind of copy and paste across the brands sometimes.

    6. Given I-Pace’s remit, its pure-EV status and the fact that its styling is clearly intended to not only emphasise its propulsion system but also express a futuristic aesthetic, would it not be advisable for the wheel choices to both reflect this in pure styling terms, and more importantly, to be designed in such a manner as to aid the vehicle’s passage through the air – range being the be-all and end-all for battery electric cars.

      Or are we to believe that flush wheels were simply another styling device?

    7. Yes, now that you say it flush wheels would have suited the car better, or at least a more futuristic option than these which look like the typical design of the last 30 years

    8. If you like asymmetry Richard, you must have liked DS’s concept car which was weirdly so.

    9. Daniel, NRJ:
      We have become so much accustomed to seeing cars with no suspension travel and tyres apparently glued to the wheelarches. The same with the narrow windows they all have today. In the end we are seeing perfectly normal cars as being “under-wheeled”, “high-roofed” or “on stilts”. As much as I like a nice looking design, I consider it worthless if it doesn’t follow the function. Functions of a car I find necessary are, for example, the possibility to see what’s going on around me in all directions, or a well-riding suspension with enough travel even for bad roads and eventually the possibility to change the ride height.

      Other than that, I agree that the standard wheels of the I-Pace are beyond description and they should have opted for something flush and futuristic, like the wheel covers on Tesla’s Model 3. They would look way better, even without size increase.

    10. Hi Simon,

      Ok fair enough 😉
      I quite like this Espace’s wheels and thought that even such an old design (1984) would’ve looked better than regular, overtly sporty wheels the I-Pace has.

    1. Well, you learn something new every day. I thought it was simply made up from letters taken from L A N D R O V E R. Thanks, NRJ, and here’s your reward:

      I hope the fact that it’s a GT doesn’t cause you to hyperventilate.

    2. Oooh Daniel, ha ha, you could’ve warned me about showing that sexy beast Picanto ! I never noticed the Velar letters were in the name Land Rover. A bit far fetched but you must be good at Scrabble.

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