RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

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RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by Arianne » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:09 am

Well folks, today I had 90mins with a D300 V6 diesel Velar. My first test drive, having committed £70k of our piggy bank (and the piggy too) in a car I hadn’t ever driven. I wouldn’t recommend this approach to others but…..

So here we go.

….. my thanks again to Lloyd Kelso. They have clearly taken a hell of a hit on my rejected F-Pace from March 2017. Sooner or later, a Management Accountant somewhere in their corporate centre will need to effect the write-down on Heidi – although I wouldn’t be surprised if some serious discussions between them and JLR have taken place. Very early on when we initiated the rejection it was established that all three parties needed to work together and that both the dealer and JLR needed to share the ‘heavy financial lifting’ and ‘load of inconvenience’ that had resulted. And both have held good on their promises once the initial discussions resulted in an agreement between us all.

And so Lloyd Kelso invited me across this afternoon for an unaccompanied test drive in their new demonstrator – Carpathian Grey (very dark), black pack, R-dynamic D300 HSE. Opening sunroof, 21” dark grey wheels, Head-Up Display (HUD) and a few other bells & whistles.

Personally, I think Carpathian Grey is just too dark especially with black pack. As a premium paint option at £1450 it’s not my thing. But these choices are deeply personal and so it’s just my opinion, nothing more.

Externally, the Velar is a funny sized car. Maybe because it’s surrounded by lots of ‘old school’ Range Rovers, RR Sports and Land Rover Discoverys, she appears smaller than one would think. Velar is but 6” shorter than a RRS but you wouldn’t think it. Velar is svelte, the RR & RRS are not. The Discovery definitely is not! It’s a lovely silhouette which one magazine has described as reminiscent of Maxell’s ‘Blown Away Guy’ advert. Unsure about that, although I like the reference to something so cool, but I get it – a little!

I have to be honest and say that, with the door handles open, the handles look very clunky and blocky. When closed the sheer finish of the side profile is superb. The trouble is that, most of the time, I will be looking at the car when unlocked whereas everyone else will see her moving above 5mph with the handles discreetly embedded. Hmm!

Another observation is that, as we drove along through the Scottish Borders’ towns of Kelso and Coldstream & the English – at least for this week – town of Berwick upon Tweed, heads did not turn. They certainly did for the F-Pace and often did for our courtesy Jaguar XJ. I wonder why the Velar didn’t catch the attention of the good folk in these three towns? I wonder if it’s because the car is an evolution, albeit a very good evolution, of the RR family? And ‘oop north in these rural parts, spotting a RR or RRS isn’t uncommon whereas a Jaguar certainly is? Or maybe it’s just because the dark Carpathian Grey didn’t shout out loud?

Well, it seems that a Velar in the darker, more subdued colours, is understated and I am fine with that – I think!
I have to say that the external build quality is perfect. There is a tightness, a precision and a solidity to the Velar which just isn’t present in the Jaguar F-Pace. How can that be? They are built on the same production line for goodness sake! Do the boys on the line spot the RR shell heading towards them and somehow feel a greater sense of pride? I doubt it. But the result is there for us all to see – Velar is just a better built, better designed car. The shut lines are simpler, especially the clamshell bonnet, and it feels good.

Okay, internally then. Well this is where the Velar really does blow you away. Simply put, there is not another car I have test driven (or perused images of through the pages of AutoExpress magazine) which has the minimalist beauty of the Velar’s cabin. This is a breakthrough moment for Range Rover – they have outshone their German rivals. And, wait for it, the tech stuff actually works. Good people of Britain, be proud. With or without a trade agreement, a fair proportion of our European Cousins will desire the Velar. Now we just need to replicate this minor miracle across almost every other element of UK manufacturing!

Seriously, the cabin exudes quality, calm, modernity, thoughtful design and luxury. This is clearly where a lot of the money has been spent. If the F-Pace is a little disappointing in this area then the Velar excels. Two minor glitches – the first is that the cupholder fliptop lid and button is less than precision engineered for its movement. It wouldn’t make the cut for a Swiss Watch! The second is the lower door bin plastic – better than F-Pace but still somewhat below-par. There’s less expanse of hard plastic compared to the F-Pace and it’s mainly out for sight. This is because the door speakers are of amazing design on the Velar, whereas they are an integral part of the dreadful door card on the F-Pace.

Man, that ICT system in the Velar is a true work of art. The lad and Mrs A have always raved about the Velar’s ICT Duo but, while I understand the aesthetic beauty of it, I was sceptical of what my actual user experience would feel like. I found it very intuitive and, if you have driven JLR cars before, it’s an evolution of the symbols and images one is already familiar with. The touch controls are instant and forgiving – if you don’t quite strike the image perfectly then it will still activate. I didn’t find it very distracting at all. Generally I have tended to prefer a balance of buttons and touchscreen, although not to the flight deck extent of the Porsche Macan interior. Truly, the Velar moves the game on here. The degree of personalisation is huge with choices of moving information and displays across all three screens. I enjoyed having the driver’s display show tachometer (right), speed (left) and SatNav in the middle. The images are crisp, pretty and beautifully rendered. I also set the top centre screen for the entertainment and the lower screen for the configurable dynamics – for which you get a wonderful crystal clear image of your Velar with a modern background and choices about the on road / off road configuration you prefer.

Everything worked, the response was almost instant – not quite my Apple iPad but only a fraction slower. Entering post codes is now rapid and not frustrating. Speed cameras trigger a warning chime. Very good.

Except for one thing – the little touch pads on the steering wheel. They respond to clicks as well as sliding your finger across them. But, for some reason, their operation was inconsistent when trying to set up the display configuration. Not a major issue and maybe something to do with me. The fact these pads change functionality depending upon the context is another first to my knowledge in a car.

Here’s a key point though – you really need to spend some money on the extended leather upgrade otherwise the front dash and door card does get a slightly flimsy plastic covering material. And, without this option, the steering wheel centre airbag cover is really of poor quality plastic for a car of this price. JLR, that’s not a good call! If you can stretch to the full extended leather pack then the dash top and door roll tops are also leather too. But both options are expensive at over £1k. More positively, the RR Velar has done a far better job at covering the gaps created by the adjustable steering column than the F-Pace and the whole fit & finish around this part of the dashboard is miles better.

Sadly, the parking brake isn’t in the central control panel behind the gear selector. It’s down on the right hand side of the dash, out of sight, which is alright but not great. Thankfully, the window controls are where one would expect them to be and not on the roll-top of the doors as one finds with the F-Pace. Conventional wisdom has prevailed.

The sunroof is huge and the opening section extends back a good distance. But this makes little difference to the driver because it’s all out of the driver’s line of sight anyway. But rear passengers will really appreciate it, including the light and airy cabin. If budget is tight then save a few pennies and choose the non-opening panoramic glass roof.

The cabin is hushed, much quieter than the F-Pace. Tyre noise and engine noise is far lower. There was no wind noise we detected at speed (and we pushed it, unlike the testers on the Norwegian test roads). It’s a very nice cabin and very, very relaxing. The seats are great and I was instantly able to find a good driving position. There is plenty of room for 6ft adults in the rear unless the front seats are pushed right back – and then it’s tight and you can feel your knees against the seat upright.

The stop start system is refined. There no drama or shudder when it restarts – again better than the F-Pace, our Jaguar XJ and previous Volvo XC60. I now won’t feel the urge to suspend stop start every time I jump in the car because it’s far less intrusive. The engine is quiet across the whole range, even under load and when pulling away. You wouldn’t really know it’s a diesel. But it doesn’t have the note and tone of the F-Pace or XJ with a slightly higher note which is a bit odd for a V6 diesel. It’s hard to explain – almost a hushed mechanical whine. Minor point and hard to describe in words.

The climate control works properly. Even when the fans are at full speed the noise is simply that of forced air circulating and not that of the booster fan itself or the whistling and wheezing of the air ducting and control flaps within the system itself. The latter was typical of the two F-Pace cars we experienced.

This car had HUD. It is amazing and displays speed, rev counter arc and SatNav directions. It was clear and very helpful. Initially I wondered whether I should have selected this from the option list. But after 5mins I disabled the display. I found it something of an information overload when perring through the screen into the distance. I suspect I would learn to love it in time and my brain would adapt as one does with new prescription spectacles. But, on this count, I was happy to have saved myself a few pennies as it’s not a cheap option. Technologically it is a masterpiece and better than the system in the BMW 4 series we tested recently. But I am happy not to have it.

Overall, the Velar is a very strong proposition across its cabin. This was an area slightly disappointing with the F-Pace but not so with the Velar. It part-justifies the additional price premium over the F-Pace and is every bit as good as anything else we have experienced. It matches the wonderful interior of the Volvo XC90 and beats the dowdy Audi cabins. It is less fussy than the Mercedes for all of the MB’s quality. And BMW, whilst rock solid, feels old-fashioned in this company.

And finally for the interior, the Velar’s party piece is that huge boot. An excellent shape and a roller cover rather than parcel shelf which, in my opinion, is better. Far easier to store and less intrusive in daily operation. And, because the rear bench of the Velar reclines, there is a gap between the roller bar and the seat backs just like the F-Pace. Oh, it’s worth mentioning that those Ford Mondeo parts bin rocker switches for the reclining rear seats live on in the Velar as well as the F-Pace!

Here’s the story in a nutshell. Does the Velar leave you grinning from ear to ear when you return from a fast drive on the twisty, country back roads of the Scottish Borders? No, it does not. The F-Pace did.

More specifically, you step out of the RR Velar and feel that you’ve just had an enjoyable fast drive in a balanced and composed SUV that is poised and accomplished in dealing with fast cornering. It is a pleasure and not tiresome to push the Velar in this way. But it’s not thrilling like the F-Pace.
The F-Pace is undoubtedly sports biased. It’s not as raw as the Porsche Macan but it comes close. The Jaguar begs to be driven hard in such circumstances and rewards you for it. The Velar isn’t like that and doesn’t try to ape the F-Pace. Velar is happy when driven hard but she’s not begging you to do so every time you start her up.

Instead, the RR Velar is a very, very refined SUV. That refinement is delivered by the bucket load. Velar’s trick is to be a true luxury SUV but still perform well when driven hard – unlike a Lexus or even BMW X5.

I found it possible to enjoy driving in a spirited fashion on fast, twisty roads with alternate, sequential 90deg bends and adverse cambers in the Velar. But, in the F-Pace I never entered a bend and then wondered if I had shaven enough speed off first – the Jaguar seems to defy the laws of physics for an SUV. In the Velar, there were a few bends where I had that feeling, applied the brakes late (in the bend itself) and felt the front dip with an early experience of potential oversteer. I was, of course, in dynamic mode as I would have been in our F-Pace. Our demonstrator was running 21” rims.

What I am explaining is at the extreme edge of the car’s capabilities. I am emphasising this to highlight the difference between the edgy F-Pace and the much more composed but nonetheless talented Velar. It’s not a huge difference but it’s there. Compared to almost any other SUV the Velar has a definite ‘sport’ gene but the F-Pace has more of it!

Conversely, the Velar is hugely more refined at slower speeds and around town. Here the F-Pace was okay but could be provoked into delivering a harsh ride on broken urban road surfaces. The Velar soaks them up, as you would expect.
I have already mentioned how quiet the cabin is in the Velar. There is no diesel clatter with the D300 and the lazy torque converter of the F-Pace when pulling away was not present on the Velar, thank goodness. There was no pronounced delay to power delivery when pulling away from junctions.

The ZF gearbox was great – smooth and unnoticed as it got on silently with the job of changing gears. You don’t notice the changes of gear. But, floor the throttle and the momentary delay I remember from the F-Pace, is present on the Velar as the gearbox takes a split second to drop down and deliver the torque.

The D300 continues to work well with the Velar as it has done in our F-Pace and Jaguar XJ. However, the extra weight of the Velar means that the performance isn’t quite as dramatic as the F-Pace. I suspect some of this is perception rather than fact – you are cossetted in the cabin. But the F-Pace puts down the power faster and with a slightly greater effect and sense of occasion.

Don’t misunderstand me – the D300 Velar will effortlessly surge past the dawdling Nissan Micra or Honda Jazz. But the F-Pace feels like someone lit the afterburners too!

For me, the Velar is an excellent balance for driving dynamic. I will miss the sheer thrill of the F-Pace and the hairs lifting on the back of my neck. But I happily trade this for the broader talent displayed by the RR Velar – around town, cruising or when driven in a spirited manner. The Velar can do all of this very, very well but perhaps doesn’t lead the pack outright in any? But that’s fine as I need my car to respond to my needs and mood on a day to day basis.

Overall verdict
Mrs A simply loved the Velar, declaring that she prefers it over the F-Pace. Life and the verdict of life is always straightforward and concise for Mrs A. That’s why we love her in our family, amongst many other personality traits that make her unique!

Conversely, I don’t think anyone has ever described my summaries as concise! Whatever, I’ll try…

…. as I drove back to the dealer it occurred to me that JLR have got their product placement spot-on with the F-Pace and Velar. There’s plenty to differentiate the two SUVs, apart from price!!!

With F-Pace the buyer gets a spacious SUV which has amazing dynamic capability. It’s a driver’s car through and through. It is a good looking design which, in the right specification, is a true head-turner almost anywhere you go. And, compared to the Velar, it comes in considerably cheaper.

But in life, you get what you pay for. Those extra pennies (well, about £10k actually) offer up a RR Velar that has an amazing cabin, better panel design and solidity (and sadly, extra weight), a more refined ride on air suspension, more accomplished refinement and a few more toys. It feels very different to the F-Pace.

As an example, one look at the leather and seat squab of the RR Velar tells me that it won’t sag or start to ripple any day soon. Not so with the F-Pace. This one example says it all really.

I suspect the tail pipe chrome of the Velar won’t begin corroding within six months of ownership due to winter salt and, because the rear valence of the Velar has a different design to the F-Pace, one cannot easily see the twin rear silencer exhaust boxes – neither of which are pretty once they start corroding. The designers have done a better job at covering the rear door framework compared to the weird matt black plastic cover of the F-Pace.

Overall then – if I had kept my F-Pace I would conclude that, for the money, I have a great car which outperforms the Velar in handling, agility, speed and thrills. It’s a bit fragile but with some TLC, I would dismiss the Velar and be very, very happy. And, if I ever doubted myself, I would think about the £10k saving.

On the other hand – if I had rejected my F-Pace and bought a RR Velar instead, I would conclude that I have a more accomplished SUV with a broader span of talent, better quality, better technology and a truly luxurious offering. I can still have fun on those fast, twisty country roads but just not as much thrilling fun as the F-Pace. It feels more solid too. But somewhere, way back in the depth of my mind is a little voice whispering…… “all of that cost you an extra £10k”.

Nothing in life is simple!

Next report on the Velar will be when I take ownership. I know scrolls have already been written about the Velar on the internet but, love it or loathe it, my real-life experience and comparison with the F-Pace is unique and probably (in places) a little naïve and incorrect!
Best wishes folks. Enjoy your Sunday!


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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by dodge1201 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:41 am

Thanks for your in-depth review! I drove an F-pace (fathers) last week and was pretty underwhelmed by the interior and certainly with the 180bhp engine. Pleased I went for the D240 and the interior of the velar is way superior.

More importantly I look forward to bringing the family in the velar next year on our annual trip to Kelso and fishing on the Tweed (Makerstoun & Floors Castle)!! If i see another Velar i'll give it a wave!!
D240 R-Dynamic SE, Byron Blue, Black Roof & 21" Dark Satin Wheels. :D

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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by Lancer » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:48 pm

Thank you for your beautifully written and thoughtful appraisal of the Velar. What a change not to have the continuous spelling and grammar mistakes we so often find on this forum. It was not just an intelligent piece of writing but a useful one too. I have many doubts about my still not delivered Velar but, now, there are fewer and I am less anxious. Thank you for your time, trouble and deliberately honest comparisons between these two excellent cars. I have come from Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Audi ownership over the last few years, yet I anticipate this new car (a D300 FE) with more excitement than any I can recall, although I have no idea why!
Time will tell, but you have made the annoying wait more enjoyable. Thank you so much again for your trouble writing such an excellent review.

Like it
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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by Like it » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:54 pm

Thank you Arianne, that's a very balanced comparison and I'm certain you've chosen wisely.

My father has the 2L diesel F-Pace costing around 48k and thinks I'm crazy buying a FE velar at 80k, and to be fair I was starting to agree with him until Friday. That's when my dealer called saying our car had arrived and did we want to take a look.

After half a century of my Dad always being right this time he's wrong!
I'm sure we're all going to enjoy our new toys.

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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by JKVelarF1 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:52 pm

Glad you enjoyed the car and I am sure you're counting the days, great write up.

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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by KRG » Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:55 pm

Such a fantastic review..thank you!
15 Porsche Cayman, Carrara White Metallic
18 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic SE P250, Narvik Black/Eclipse (built 6/16)

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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by Milky400 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:58 pm

A truely superb and honest review. Interestingly I have recently ordered a new Velar and the mother in law ordered an F-Pace. Both arrive towards the end of November

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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by BLAM » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:18 am

Thanks for the write up.

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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by VelarMan » Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:48 am

Arianne, you should consider a career in motoring journalism :D What a write up.

So you thought the F-Pace drove better than the Velar in Dynamic mode? Mine has the active locking rear diff and i think this makes a HUGE difference in the way the car drives! I swear my first edition handles like a dream on B roads!

The Active Locking Rear Differential offers an additional benefit both on and off-road through the introduction of an additional multi plate wet clutch on the rear axle which provides the maximum traction possible when grip levels vary across the vehicle. This improves stability when driving on slippery surfaces such as patchy ice or wet grass, when traversing undulations off-road, and in normal conditions when exiting out of corners.

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Re: RR Velar D300 test drive - comparison with Jaguar F-Pace

Post by Arianne » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:30 pm

VelarMan wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:48 am
Arianne, you should consider a career in motoring journalism :D What a write up.

So you thought the F-Pace drove better than the Velar in Dynamic mode? Mine has the active locking rear diff and i think this makes a HUGE difference in the way the car drives! I swear my first edition handles like a dream on B roads!

The Active Locking Rear Differential offers an additional benefit both on and off-road through the introduction of an additional multi plate wet clutch on the rear axle which provides the maximum traction possible when grip levels vary across the vehicle. This improves stability when driving on slippery surfaces such as patchy ice or wet grass, when traversing undulations off-road, and in normal conditions when exiting out of corners.
Thanks for the feedback, one and all.

VelarMan, I cannot comment on the Active Locking Rear Diff. I don't think the demonstrator had it and, even if it did and one needs to select it, I didn't switch it on.

So my comparison is between the standard Velar setup with air suspension and the F-Pace on coils - both in dynamic mode. The Velar was on 21" rims whereas my two F-Pace cars had 22" and 20" wheels respectively.

The road was dry for our 90mins.

On this basis, I genuinely believe that the F-Pace has the dynamic edge when pushed hard on twisty, country roads. The Velar is good. Very good. But it is just beaten by the F-Pace with the V6 diesel up front.

In all other respects, apart from cost, the Velar wins for me.

VelarMan, in all honesty, with your garage if other cars I think you probably can take your Velar closer to the edge than I can! I wouldn't describe myself as a particularly great driver. I like to drive fast but I never get to the ragged edge - I don't have it in me!


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