What’s it like?
Capable, but unsurprisingly not to the extent of the more powerful engines found elsewhere in the line-up. Though I’m not sure you’d want to drive the Velar with anything less under the bonnet, it would be wrong to label it underpowered. Motorway overtakes are dispatched without too much drama, and it feels responsive enough around town, although the automatic gearbox isn’t particularly quick to drop down when attempting to fill gaps in traffic.
Refinement isn’t its strong point, either at idle or under load, with a somewhat gruff-sounding tone that betrays its cylinder count at slower speeds. Wind and road noise are both well managed, though, so at motorway pace the cabin is a very pleasant place to be.
Even lower-grade models are well equipped, with twin touchscreens in the centre console giving precise control over climate, driving modes and other settings. Physical dials make on-the-fly adjustments a lot easier than a purely touch-based system, and look the part too. That said, the basic instrument cluster (a small screen flanked by analogue dials) felt a little out of place in the otherwise tech-laden cabin, so we’d definitely tick the option box to add the fully digital cluster.
There’s little disguising the Velar’s size and heft in the corners, where it lacks the sharpness and precision of the BMW X4, or indeed the Jaguar F-Pace with which it shares a platform. However, though we didn’t get the chance to test it in the D180, experience elsewhere in the range suggests that it would best both rivals when taken off road.
The combination of 19in wheels and passive suspension creates a ride that copes well enough with coarser road surfaces, and while it doesn’t waft as a Velar on air suspension does (an option not available with this engine), both driver and passengers will appreciate its relaxed nature on longer journeys.