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