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Long Read

Holly, our beautiful D300 R-dynamic Velar, is in the Lake District, North-West England and this gives me an opportunity to provide the forum with the latest in my long-term owner's report at four-years and 44,000 miles. As ever it's honest, albeit personal. And on a sample size of just one, I'll leave you to decide whether it's representative of Range Rover Velar ownership or not. Only one thing is certain - it's 100% representative of our family's ownership experience. Enjoy….

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Welcome to NW England's Lake District

In July 2021 I provided forum members with my last update from the Scottish Outer Hebrides. Prior to that it was December 2020 from Gairloch on Scotland's NW Coast. I've been updating folk since we bought Holly back in September 2017 - the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.

Our Velar again has added to the sense of enjoyment for this week's break in the Lake District. A huge boot that swallowed our cases, walking boots, coats, pillows (essential for a good night's sleep wherever we go) and a week's worth of Click & Collect groceries from Asda Carlisle en-route to our holiday home. No fuss, no drama - just comfortable driving all the way.

In the Lake District there's no point washing the car either before arrival or during the stay. This is Britain as we reimagine it from 1950, but with the mod-cons of the 21st century. The roads are narrow, twisting and muddy. Water cascades down from the Lakeland Fells over slate, across the roads and onward to the beck. Rocks and boulders together with overhanging hedgerows and potholes await the unwary. Driving on anything other than the main roads requires concentration as traffic approaching in the opposite direction results in squeezing past each other with the tightest of margins. As you drive, it's wise to remember each and every passing place since you might need to reverse back to it. Thank goodness for the rear camera, folding mirrors and ability to raise the air suspension - the latter also being useful for creating some off-road parking when the beauty spot car parks are full at the weekend.

My other favourites from this holiday include:

  • the heated seats and steering wheel which are wonderful after walking for hours on a chilly Autumn day
  • the speed limiter when we emerge southbound from Keswick in the 30mph zone that goes on forever into the countryside with a police car right behind us
  • What3Words which, when linked to GoogleMaps through AndroidAuto, gets us to a 2mx2m piece of planet Earth not listed on any other Satnav system
  • ICTpro, the forerunner to JLR's Pivi Pro software because...... it means the lower screen accepts swipe down commands to toggle between Satnav and music interfaces
  • our D300 V6 engine that is unbelievably frugal if you're gentle with the throttle, returning an average 38mpg from the Scottish Borders through to our destination holiday home here in The Lakes

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Hats off to Mrs A who spotted the hazard of our tailgate hitting the road sign when we opened up to change into our walking boots. She is 'hero for the day'

For those that enjoy these things we recommend a walk at the head of Crummock Water, a hike around the whole of Buttermere (the lake and not just the village) followed by lunch at the Bridge Hotel, a trip to our favourite Lakeland town of Keswick (including a stroll along the shore of Derwentwater) and a hike along the valley from Elterwater - after which the reward is lunch at the Britannia Inn. There is of course much, much more but this will suffice for a week in October.

Okay, back to our report of owning a D300 V6 Velar then. This last period has been pretty good with Holly making two trips to Lloyd Land Rover, Kelso. The first was mainly because the aircon no longer provided any cool air and the second was for the routine fourth annual service. Let's take each of these separately as I know many forum members are anxious about the ownership experience of any JLR car, so detail is important. It bolsters authenticity.

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Crummock Water. More off-road parking in the forest where we balanced the Velar's nearside wheels along a ledge and ensured her front offside wing didn't clip a pile of felled logs when reverse parking

TBH, I was a tiny bit miffed that the aircon had failed. It was in summer. Scottish summer's, even here in Southern Scotland, are rarely hot. But the loss of our climate control also changes the humidity as well as the temperature in the cabin. So I called the dealer to book Holly in for a consultation with the technician. Lead times for an appointment were long due to the usual list of reasons affecting everything here in the UK right now - whether it's supermarket products, garden furniture, fuel, loo rolls or a builder (although builders in the UK are permanently difficult to secure whereas everything else on the list is a post Covid-19 phenomena which increasingly reminds me of my childhood experiences of Blighty during the 1970s when we were affectionately dubbed, The Sick Man of Europe. If the media would just give us a break from the relentless stream of apocalyptic stories every morning on breakfast news then the Great British Public could just get on with living our lives rather than preparing for the 2021 version of the US' Duck & Cover disaster scenario).

On the other hand, despite needing to wait four-weeks for the slot with the dealer, I was offered a lovely courtesy car and asked whether there was anything else needing attention. So I seized the opportunity…

…having lost the aircon in summer, I had been congratulating myself on my initial decision to spend big and opt for the opening panoramic sunroof. Forum members may have remembered that, while in North Uist in July 2021, I had suggested that it might be best to save a few pennies (actually a few hundred pounds) and just select the fixed pano-sunroof. But, dear reader, when the aircon fails it's handy to slide that glass sunroof back, as you would have done while driving a Vauxhall Cavalier (Opel Ascona for our EU friends) back in the 1980s. But this reminded me that, when fully retracted, our sunroof occasionally makes a slight knocking noise as the monocoque frame of the car flexes on certain corners and potholes. So I asked the dealer to look into this since there's no harm in asking.

…and a rattling noise on idle had begun from somewhere beneath our car. So three things in total then, none of which were major.

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Another shot of beautiful Crummock Water, this time while crossing the weir

On the day, I was given a Discovery R-dynamic. It's a very nice car but I prefer our Velar with its better engine, superior handling and more luxurious interior. I'm unsure why one would choose R-dynamic trim on a Discovery as I personally don't think the exterior cosmetic add-ons enhance the rugged character of the Discovery. It's a proper 4x4 family load-lugger so let's not be pretentious about the dynamics? I also don't think that the steering wheel inset controls on the latest MY vehicles are as fancy as the original touch-sensitive versions. Yes, they're more reliable when pressed but that plastic material is….. yuk, really cheap to touch and anything but eye-candy. It has no right to be in any JLR cabin. The stubby gear selector is debatable - in the Velar I like the rising rotary dial because it fits nicely with the overarching design of the cabin. But there's something tactile about the new one which works just fine in the Discovery. In all honesty, with the shortage of new JLR cars these days (just another thing for the list post Covid-19), I felt fortunate simply to be given a courtesy car in the first place. After all, the dealership could easily have sold it!

The verdict from the technician was that Holly's aircon problem was solved by means of a re-gas. They'd checked the system for leaks and found none, recommending that I keep alert should the chilled air become less tepid in coming months since this might indicate a tiny leak that they'd been unable to trace. Hmm. As we're heading into winter, that monitoring of refrigerated air will likely prove difficult. But I concluded that this was one of those things to which it would be best to yield. A tiny part of me wondered whether a re-gas is considered reasonable after just four years' ownership and 44,000 miles? None of my other cars ever have needed a re-gas. Okay, my 2008 commuter-mobile Vectra's aircon failed but that was because of a bullet (stone) hole to the condenser / evaporator. The Vectra's aircon component is in a vulnerable position. Mrs A's 1999 Peugeot 208's aircon failed but, since it was being handed down to the lad as his first car, we didn't bother fixing it. The yellow light on the button still illuminated and since it was a Peugeot with a puny 1.1, 8v engine incapable of overtaking anything other than an old farm tractor, at least the engine would be relieved of the added stress of chilled air production and simply focus on some desperately needed torque to move the car forward with a little more urgency.

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Buttermere - the circuit around the lake takes 2-3hrs, including stops for photos and snacks

Another tiny part had hoped that it might have been due to a component failure, this being covered by my expensive JLR extended warranty which now costs me £84 per month. But no. A re-gas is a 'wear & tear' item and so I was duly charged £150 or so (from memory) for the fix. One day something will go wrong with Holly that'll be covered by the extended warranty, just not yet. That warranty is a bit like fixed-term life insurance. You pay your money but hope your loved ones will never need to make a claim! Slight overstatement there.

As for the rattling noise at idle - the technician had identified a loose weld on the DPF heat shield and I'd been offered the opportunity to have it re-welded for one hour's labour at £144. Instead I bought some big jubilee clips from Amazon and secured the heat shield tight myself. £18 and an hour of my time. It silenced the rattle then and it's still silent now. Feeling smug? Yes, I am!

And finally, the rattling sunroof when fully retracted? That needed a road test with the technician to replicate the intermittent noise. Nobody knows a car like the driver and so it proved to be. I found a suitably rutted road and Holly's sunroof obliged. Less positive though was the technician's opinion. His suggestion was that there might be a missing spot weld somewhere along the top of the bodywork where the windscreen meets the front of the roof (there's a strip of metal there before the pano-sunroof begins). If this is to be rectified the technician thought that the windscreen would need to be removed, fresh welding undertaken and everything reassembled. A big job and he promised to check with JLR to see if this would be covered under the manufacturer's warranty before getting back to me. Quite frankly, I am not having my car disassembled and then put back together for the occasional rattle when I occasionally have the sunroof fully retracted on the occasional sunny day in Scotland. The risk-reward ratio for this seems unattractive to me so I'll let it go. I've lived with this small annoyance since taking delivery of Holly but never felt sufficiently bothered to report the issue until now. It's not progressive. The technician has never got back in touch and, on this one, I will not be following it up.

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Britannia Inn, Elterwater. £8 for a ham roll, albeit with a side salad and crisps, is somewhat steep. This must be the high skill, high wage economy that we've aspired to become? We'll be making watches like the Swiss soon then...

What about the annual service and MOT then. £54. That's it. You have read this correctly. Has anyone ever emerged from a Land Rover dealership having paid just £54? In living memory? I will need to remember this moment in my motoring life - the cost being nothing more than the fee for the MOT itself. The fourth annual service is covered by the five-year service pack that I negotiated when we bought our Velar back in 2017. That seems a long time ago now and we still have a fifth free service to come next year. My earlier self has made some expensive mistakes in life that my current self curses him for, but the decision to negotiate the five-year service pack seems inspired all these years later.

Of course, the deal only covers the routine service items and not anything extra. However, as it turns out, Holly didn't need anything extra this year. No brake pads, discs or washer fluid! My ad-blue was topped up 'gratis' as per the deal and I was notified of a couple of advisories under the MOT. The first was slight corrosion to the bits at the end of the brake hoses that screw the things on (can't remember what they're called) and the second was the usual mention of slight corrosion to the brake discs. The Service Advisor said neither were worthy of attention and so I shouldn't worry.

Feeling rather chuffed and somewhat relieved in equal measure (private owners in the UK truly dread the annual MOT on cars in excess of three-years old), I tapped my PIN into the dealer's card reader, accepted the service record and itemised listing before sliding the keys to the courtesy car under the Perspex screen (yes, it was the same Disco as a month earlier).

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Our holiday home is in the unspoilt and picturesque Newslands Valley, at the foot of Catsbells

And so that's it. You know, with all the terrible stories on this forum and in the motoring press about JLR reliability, as well as dealer service, I count myself very fortunate. Our car is a joy to own and we love her very much. She looks as 'fresh-out-of-the-box' in 2021 as she did back in September 2017 with her design unaltered after four years. Equally, Holly drives as new - or at least insofar as I can detect.

I hope my post has been informative. If you want to read the earlier ownership reports then simply search for threads that I have started. It's not all been plain-sailing since the experience at the very outset was awful until a modification was made to our car after about six-months. But since then it's been pretty good and better than our Volvo (both XC60 and XC90) experiences or that of our earlier Ford Galaxy Ghia TDi.

Next up will be our big trip to Austria for skiing. I think I'll get the glow plug pre-heater checked before we depart as I don't want a repeat of 2019/20 experience with the Austrian Land Rover dealer in Kufstein, Tyrol. Better safe than sorry. I'll update the forum again from The Alps then!

Best wishes, Arianne

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Thierbach, Wildschonau, Austria. Here's hoping for winter 2021/22


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