Whilst every petrol head dreams of owning that special car, the reality is often not as hoped with the cost of insurance, tyres, servicing, depreciation, road tax not to mention needing somewhere to park it and all of that is before something goes wrong with these complex machines preventing many from taking the plunge. Sometimes practicalities dictate you drive something small and practical or even use public transport particularly in the major cities. But what about that weekend away in the countryside when you want something more fun, special or even some extra space? Well Avis Prestige may well have the answer with their luxury and performance car hire with cars such as the latest Range Rovers, Jaguars, Mercedes and even Porsche available to hire from locations throughout the United Kingdom. You can drive the car of your dreams for that weekend away without all of the day to day costs and compromise required to own such a car.
I was given the chance to experience the service for myself when Avis offered me one of their Range Rover Velars for a long weekend. I collected the car from their Birmingham Branch although they do offer a delivery service if you live near one of their locations. The car turned out to be a 2019 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic HSE with pretty much every option box ticked. The D300 is a 3.0 Turbo Diesel with 300 horsepower mated to an Automatic Gearbox. The specification included soft black leather seats perforated with Union Jack patterns, heated and cooled in the front and fully electric and with a massage function to make every journey a comfortable one. It features Jaguar Land Rover’s latest infotainment system with a large easy to use screen that tilts towards you on start-up and features a second large screen just below to control functions such as the climate control, seat massaging and media including the Meridian Audio. It also has the digital dashboard which is highly customisable and looks modern and expensive with lovely fonts and a high resolution to really give it that quality feel. On the exterior the car came with silver metallic paint and the black pack to give all the trim a quality feel. It also came running on the optional 22 inch black alloy wheels which really made this Velar look the part. LED lighting and a fixed panoramic sunroof helped complete this enticing package.
My first day with the Velar was filled with the mundane chores of ferrying the family around to their groups and appointments but I had plans for the car over the weekend which were far more pleasing. The weather was looking excellent and I had been wanting to take another trip to Snowdonia for a while so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I was up bright and early and it was a chilly start but the heated seats and steering wheel soon warmed me up and I was on my way. The first hour or so is a motorway stint and largely uneventful but the Velar just eats up these sorts of miles meaning it passed quietly and comfortably thanks partly to the silky-smooth air suspension.
Where I was pleasantly surprised with the Velar was when the roads turned twisty where its composure wasn’t rocked. The Velar is a large car and a heavy car and Range Rovers aren’t exactly renowned for their dynamism but the Velar handled itself very well. Body roll was kept well in check when set to dynamic mode and the car was easy to place with the low-down torque from that diesel engine pulling the car strongly out of slow corners. One of the reasons I love that area of Wales, as well as the scenery, is the challenging and enjoyable roads. I feared I would not be able to exploit this as I would wish but I was wrong. Whilst no sports car there is plenty of fun to be had in the Range Rover Velar and that diesel engine is a stronger performer than it’s six and a half second 0-60 time would suggest. Once you are off the line the performance is as strong as you will ever need on public roads and overtakes are effortless and over much quicker than you would imagine, which on the twisty roads around Wales is a godsend.
The other feature of these lovely roads are the bumps and poor surfaces and the ride on the Velar is one of its strongest attributes. Even on 22 inch wheels the ride is exceptional, ironing out all but the worst pot holes even in the slightly stiffer dynamic setting. In comfort the car simply floats along. As well as the usual comfort, dynamic, and eco settings this being a Land Rover product it has genuine off road capabilities which whist not strictly relevant in a hire car, it does allow you to park in the uneven gravel pull in spots with confidence and without fear of grounding or losing traction on the slopes. There are three off road modes to use including slippery surfaces such as grass, gravel and snow as well as a rocky and a sand mode. The suspension raises the ride height in these modes and you can raise the car even further should you need more ground clearance. The large infotainment screens show you all the information you will ever need to know when off-road from approach and tilt angles, whether the differential is locking and suspension travel, all of which inspire confidence that you won’t be risking your deposit being returned when parking your car. I spent many hours exploring Snowdonia’s lakes, mountains and roads snapping photographs as I went and as dusk arrived and the roads quietened, I was able to really enjoy the Velar on a spirited return leg whilst following a lovely TVR Cerbera and its symphony of sound. In all, I was on the road for 11 hours and had little in the way of aches and pains as a result. When I started to stiffen up during the last hour or so I popped on the massage seats and in a short time I felt refreshed. I don’t even like massages normally.
Day three and it was back to some more family time with my wife and daughter and we decided a great place to explore the Velar as a family wagon would be a day out at the Safari Park. Whilst the car was good on those mountain roads I did at times wish for a more powerful petrol engine when pushing on. I’d love to try the P380 or the SV variants. It wasn’t for a lack of performance particularly but just the nature of the diesel engine and its narrow power band where a petrol that is more revy would have been preferable. Even so, the 300hp diesel is perfect for the daily grind oozing torque and managing to achieve 35-40mpg quite easily which for a car as big as this is good going. It’s strange that after a day cruising narrow Welsh roads, that it was the Safari Park where I really noticed the size of this Range Rover. You sit higher than pretty much any other car on the road, with the exception probably of the full fat Rangy and whilst that gives a sense of security it can be tricky to manoeuvre in tight spaces. A good reason perhaps why owning one if you are a city dweller wouldn’t be ideal. What it did mean was acres of space and comfort for all of the family and there really is no better way to spend time in a car than a Range Rover. If you regularly carry passengers and need luggage space this is a package hard to beat especially if comfort is more of a priority than performance for you. Everything just seems easier and more relaxed in the Velar which for a lot of people is all they want from a luxury wagon. As a family, spending several hours in the car again which would usually be a tiring proposition was a much more enjoyable experience thanks to the Velars comfortable cabin.
Come Monday and I was disappointed to be handing the Velar back. I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. I usually prefer my cars with a sportier edge, but a Range Rover has a certain charm about it and whilst certainly comfort orientated the fact it was good fun on some great roads was a pleasant surprise. The service received from Avis Prestige was impeccable from start to finish. Nothing was too much trouble and the car, collection and return experience flawless. It really is the perfect way to enjoy a weekend away from the city in the car of your dreams and all for the cost of a typical monthly payment on one of these vehicles.
Huge thanks go to Avis Prestige for the experience. Be sure to check out their website and see what a fantastic range of luxury and performance cars they have to offer.