MANY WORDS and phrases can be used to describe Jeremy Clarkson, though we doubt many fans will volunteer “provider of sound consumer advice” as one of the critic’s chief qualities. He’s the world’s most famous motoring journalist and unquestionably knows his pushrods from his Wankels, but most followers enjoy his car reviews for their pure entertainment value.
After all, this is a man who believes a Grand Tour road test of a Citroen C3 Aircross should see the raised supermini square off against an elephant. His leftfield reviews aren’t reserved for television, of course: in a review he wrote for The Sunday Times earlier this year, Clarkson advised people to buy a Triumph TR6 rather than a new (and, no doubt, more reliable) Audi TTS roadster.
So it’s perhaps no surprise to find out the car he reckons British motorists need to buy en masse when the UK leaves the European Union is not one you’d find many other critics pushing as a ‘people’s car’: the £86,685, 543bhp Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition.
Though Land Rover’s super SUV is an unusual pick for Tom, Dick and Harry, Clarkson’s extreme reasoning — in his review for today’s Sunday Times Magazine — as always has a basis in logic. Because the flagship Velar variant is built by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations outift in Coventry, he points out, it wouldn’t be subject to any potential import duties after a no-deal Brexit.
Its European rivals, such as the BMW X6 M50i, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S and Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupé, on the other hand, would be slapped with a hefty mark-up (analysts expect cars imported from the EU to cost consumers 10% more, after tariffs).
He goes on to say the ultra-fast Velar could be considered good value in an extreme situation… “if the Europeans slap a 200% import duty on cars made here.” As Britain would do the same for European cars imported to the UK, “all the Velar’s rivals will suddenly cost about half a million [pounds],” he says.
Putting wild car tariff tit-for-tat with the European Union aside, Clarkson found plenty to like about the Velar SVAutobiography. As was the case with the regular Range Rover Velar he reviewed in 2018, the writer says one of the main reasons he yearns to own one is its “gorgeous” design, and goes on to say the Range Rover makes up for its bumpy ride by being “bloody good fun to hustle” on a twisty road.
The “blizzard of noise” that erupts from the 5-litre supercharged V8 gets his seal of approval, too.
Not everything about the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic was stamped with Clarkson’s seal of approval, however. While he reckoned the glass touchscreen interfaces “look lovely” and give the interior a design reminiscent of an modern airliner cockpit, the absence of almost any buttons means the system is not easy to use — especially when faced with a bumpy ride.
Clarkson also didn’t like how such a large, luxurious SUV wasn’t as spacious as you’d expect; the 6ft 5in presenter saying that “in a car of this size, you would expect a bit more rear legroom”. The seats are “too hard” as well, though they are far more supple than the “hilariously uncomfortable” rear bench in the Land Rover Discovery, he reckons.
Despite those criticisms, Clarkson summed up his thoughts on the raucous Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition as follows: “I don’t need a Velar. But I want one. And if I bought one, this is the model I’d go for.”