It would seem that Land Rover can’t put a wheel wrong. Last year their sales volumes were up almost 20 per cent in the UK, and in a market that is down so far in 2017, this year’s registration figures are up by more than 7 per cent. The Range Rover Evoque is still the bestselling model with more than 27,000 examples finding homes last year, and both the Discovery and Discovery Sport are selling very well indeed. But Land Rover had a problem. The step up from the Evoque that starts at £30,760 to the Range Rover Sport that is priced from £60,015 was huge, and the company needed a new model to fit in between. Enter the Range Rover Velar.

It’s longer and lower than any other model in the line-up, and at 4,803 millimetres long, it is only 43 millimetres shorter than the Range Rover Sport. The design delivers a relatively short nose, a long wheelbase and then a long rear overhang, together with the trademark floating roof. It shares its chassis with the Jaguar F-Pace, and indeed its engines and mechanicals. The Velar nameplate comes from the prototypes that were tested before the original 1970s Range Rover was launched. Velar was a name that was applied to those first development cars to put nosey car hacks off the scent, and so reviving it for this latest Range Rover has real history for the marque.

A range of 2.0- and 3.0-litre diesel engines are found under the bonnet of the Velar, with our test car featuring the most powerful 296bhp edition. Air suspension is standard on the V6, and optional on the 237bhp 2.0-litre engine, while drive is sent to the rear wheels unless the system detects slip, when traction is deployed to all four in less than 165 milliseconds.

Land Rover’s fantastic Terrain Reponse system is included as standard, but there’s no traditional low ratio gearbox, with all of the vehicle’s considerable off-road ability conjured up via the car’s electronics. And capable it is, with the ability to scale the side of a mountain where traditionally only a cable car will get to, like we did on the car’s launch. And while some hands-on owners will want to test the car’s mettle, the majority of Velar buyers will be happy to know that it has the capability, but not necessarily use it.

Land Rover says that the Velar is the most dynamically focussed Range Rover so far, and we’re inclined to believe them. The stonkingly good 296bhp 3.0-litre diesel engine serves up immense muscle, huge amounts of mid-range torque, and can catapult the two-tonne car to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds. It changes direction adeptly, too, with no evidence of body roll and has great surefootedness. The Velar seems to shrink around you when in the driver’s seat, and you can really chuck it about. Grip is excellent, the steering accurate, well weighted and highly manoeuvrable, and the meaty brakes bring you to a stop in an incredibly short distance. There’s a nice growl to the engine under full throttle, but usually it’s a pleasingly distant soundtrack. Refinement is first rate, with barely any noise from the wind, despite the Velar’s large frontal area, and road and tyre noise has been impressively dialled out. The air suspension goes about its business very well indeed, soaking up bumps and potholes nicely, while on deep ruts and imperfections it shrugs them off with ease, and in far more of an accomplished way than some of its rivals.

The cabin of the Velar continues the traditional Range Rover values, but with a hi-tech twist. The low level touchscreen that takes care of most of the controls for the car is a beautiful piece of design, but not so good for use by the driver when moving, as it involves taking your eyes off the road for longer than is ideal. Sure familiarity will improve things enormously, we just think its positioning is a little lower than is ideal. The engineers have, however, resisted the temptation to lump all of the controls onto the touchscreen, and left separate, easy-tooperate dials for the ventilation system. The upper display screen is electrically operated and folds away when not in use, and is positioned perfectly.

As we’ve come to expect from a Range Rover, attention to detail is exquisite, with plush materials that feel nicely screwed together. The command-like driving position gives a great view out along the long bonnet, and the hugely comfortable seats are easily adjustable to suit. Head and legroom up front is excellent, while at the back space is more limited than the SUV’s footprint would suggest. Headroom is generously proportioned, however, kneeroom is best described as adequate. And there’s a sizeable hump running through the middle of the car, and so a central passenger will need to splay their legs either side to get comfortable. Boot space is large, deep and wide, with a relatively low loading sill. The seats fold down in a 40/20/40 fashion, opening the space from an exceptionally good 632 litres up to 1,690 litres.

Other neat touches around the car include the Tesla-style door handles that automatically deploy when you unlock the car, and then fold away again once you are on the move. Inside, the headrests have been designed so that they are more like the kind that you’ll find on a British Airways plane than in a car, with adjustable side support to hold your head nicely in place. And then there’s the Land Rover logo on the centre console that opens up a neatly placed cubby hole. It’s these nice touches that set the Range Rover Velar apart and will have buyers queuing around the blocks.

On sale | Now In showrooms | Now
Prices | £44,830 to £83,350
Bodystyles | 5-door SUV
Engines | 2.0 (177bhp), 2.0 (237bhp), 3.0 (296bhp)
Trim levels | Standard, S, SE, HSE, R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE, R-Dynamic HSE, First Edition
Also consider | Jaguar F-Pace, Volvo XC90
Model tested | R-Dynamic HSE D300
Price | £70,530
Made in | Solihull, UK
Bodystyle | 5-door SUV, 5-seats
Layout | Four-wheel-drive
Engine | 2993cc, V6, 24-valve, twin turbo diesel
Stop-start | Yes
Selective catalyst reduction | Yes
Transmission | 8-speed automatic
Maximum power | 296bhp @ 4,000rpm
Maximum torque | 516lb ft @ 1,500rpm
Top speed | 150mph
0-62mph | 6.5secs
CO2 emissions | 167g/km
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 38.2/48.7/44.1mpg
Fuel tank size | 66 litres
Range | 640 miles
Insurance group | 46
Company car BIK rate | 35%
Size (length/width with mirrors) | 4,803/2,145mm
Boot space (min/max) | 632/1,690 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight | 1,959/2,500kg
Euro NCAP rating | Not yet tested