I’m driving a loaner car from the Jaguar Land-Rover dealership, a 2023 Range Rover Velar. I’m not in love with it. But it’s got a name: Abbie Angie.
What happened was, my lovely 2019 Jaguar I-Pace was in for an annual checkup (first time I’ve paid a penny for maintenance). On Friday when I picked it up, the dealership guy told me “Gonna be seeing you soon again, there’s this big recall, the problem affects less than 5% of I-Paces but we still have to do 19 hours of labor to tear it apart and put it back together.” On Monday morning I was one of the 5%, the car flashed inscrutable messages on the dashboard and declined to leave the carport.
That name · This thing is big, black, and square. It drives like a cow.
An Aberdeen Angus cow is big, black and square. And I have a personal connection: My second cousin Artis was Aberdeen Angus Queen at the Calgary Stampede sometime around 1970. Bet that wasn’t on your bingo card for today. Anyhow, Abbie Angie is short for Aberdeen Angus.
What it is · Apparently there are three Range Rovers in this line-up, of which the Velar is the medium option. It’s huge, so I shudder to think what the top of the line might be. It’s called a Crossover SUV, but then so is my I-Pace, and the two aren’t like each other in the slightest. It has a front hood the size of a small European country and I haven’t cared to ascertain the details about the planet-destroying dinosaur-burning apparatus beneath it.
Similarly, a cow has a bulky middle which contains four stomachs.
What’s good · I should preface my good/bad takes by noting that I’ve been driving an expensive and much-praised electric car for four years; perhaps the things about the Velar that annoy me are failings of fossil-fuel cars in general? Especially given that the Velar has been favorably reviewed by respectable car publications like Top Gear and Edmunds. Having said that…
It’s fast, sometimes. It can lurch away from a green light pretty quick, and if you floor it, once the acceleration kicks in (see below) you’ll find yourself breaking laws pretty soon.
It is a Land-Rover after all — comes with all sorts of controls to help you drive in deep ruts. heavy snow, and sand. Also it’s got tilt indicators and various four-wheel-drive adjustments. So I guess you could go off-road and damage the landscape.
The screen is really excellent; well-placed, with terrific production values and graphical elegance. The display when music is playing is really pleasing to the eyes. Also, it feels lightning fast, but don’t take my opinion too seriously because every reviewer of the Jag has panned the sluggish response of its touch-screens.
The Android Auto implementation is immensely better than in my Jag, where you have to plug in the USB and then wait for a while for AA to spin up. I only had to plug in once on Abbie Angie; now it works on Bluetooth and connects instantly as soon as I turn the car on.
There’s loads of room inside.
What’s bad · See note above about the cow. It lurches into motion with a big klunk.
It has a nice tight turning radius but taking a curve at any speed feels like, well, moo.
Like a good environmentally-sensitive fossil car should, it turns itself off when stopped. So when the light turns green you get one klunk as the engine starts and another when the transmission kicks in.
When you’re cruising along at moderate speed and want to go faster and step on the gas, all the elements under the hood hold a committee meeting to think about it, then eventually the car reacts. As anyone with a farm background knows, cattle can run surprisingly fast, it just takes them a while to get up to speed.
The seats just aren’t that comfortable; they come in multiple parts that don’t seem well-co-ordinated.
It’s loud, particularly when the acceleration committee passes the move-forward resolution, a snarly sort of roar that they tell me actually pleases fossil-car admirers. I guess I’m being unfair to those Aberdeen Anguses, who emit quite a melodious lowing sound.
I can’t use my mobile app to turn on the heater a few minutes in advance so I can get into a nice pre-warmed cab. I’m in Canada and it’s winter so this is a big deal.
It’s got a huge gas tank and runs it down pretty fast. Not gonna mention numbers, but stopping by the gas station is a very painful experience.
Who’s it for? · When we were considering the Jag, we went to a Jaguar/Land-Rover marketing event in 2018, described here, from which I quote:
We went in for an intro lecture, which was given by this charming dude who totally loved cars; early in his remarks he said “Our products are things that absolutely nobody really needs” … “We build these vehicles that can go everywhere and do everything, but I guess it’s OK that a lot of their owners don’t go anywhere or do anything”.
I can personally testify that on the streets of Vancouver, where I live, there are many Land-Rover products, each of them taking an unreasonable amount of space relative to the number of people inside.
Go electric · The biggest downside of going electric is you can’t go buy one and drive it home, demand exceeds supply.
But if you can get one, it’ll be agile (unlike a cow), smooth (unlike a cow), responsive (unlike a cow), cheap to run (unlike a cow), and emit no greenhouse gases (unlike a cow).
Can’t wait to get back in my Jaguar.
Comment feed for ongoing:
From: Dave Pawson (Feb 03 2023, at 00:21)
Who's it for? (the range rover). In the UK it would appear to focus largely on school runs, rows of 'em parked on the pavement waiting for their children.