Style Dynamism like never seen before from Land Rover
Almost half a century later, Land Rover thinks that their spirit of innovation will result in future success once again with the introduction of the fourth member of the Range Rover family, the Range Rover Velar.
What’s in a name?
Since 1948, Land Rover has been manufacturing 4x4s. However even as far back as 1951, the Rover Company, the originator of the Land Rover marque, was experimenting with a larger model than the Land Rover Series.
The idea lay dormant until 1966, when engineers Spen King and Bashford set out to design a new model. The intention was to take the Land Rover utility vehicles more upmarket than their military or humble farmyard roots. When they needed to hide the true identity of the 26 pre-production Range Rovers, they chose the name “Velar”, derived from the Latin word “velare”, meaning to veil or cover.
Thus the Velar company was registered in London and produced pre-production prototype vehicles that were built between 1967 and 1970. Most of these Velar pre-production vehicles have actually been accounted for and have even survived with some preservation.
Little did King and Bashford realize that years later, their actions would eventually spawn into the profitable luxury sport utility vehicle category that is what it is today.
Form over function
The Range Rover Velar is truly the SUV of the moment. While its bloodline is unmistakably Range Rover with its floating roof and unbroken waistline, it also prioritizes some form over function.
Styling is one of this vehicle’s biggest draws and there is no doubt that it is a design-led vehicle. The sloping roofline does cut into some rear headroom, but boy does it look fantastic.
The Velar is also the first Land Rover model to receive flush door handles that pop open when touched, then closed when the vehicle is on the move. With a drag co-efficient of just 0.32, thanks in part to those motorised flush door handles, the Velar is the most aerodynamic Range Rover yet. Don’t be surprise if you’ll see these door handles on other Range Rover models in the future, such as the next generation Evoque.
Whereas Land Rover’s “Discovery” models are focused on the active, rougher-terrain lifestyle and family orientation portions of the ever-crowded luxury SUV market, the Range Rover Velar emphasises elegance, sophistication, on-road performance, and ride quality.
Range Rover says that the minimalistic interior design is the product of “reductionism”. Hidden until lit controls are supposed to offer up an uncluttered environment and add to the calming effect of the interior. Despite the lower price of the Velar when compared to the Range Rover Sport, the materials are similar in weight and quality to those of the pricier Range Rovers.
A stunning interior
The styling highlights continue in the interior. One step into the cabin and you’ll understand why.
With its three-screen setup and minimalist interior design, the Velar moves the Range Rover brand up a notch with a level of tactility and technology that we’ve never seen on a Land Rover product before.
All but the entry-level ‘S’ get three screens as standard. There’s a 12.3-inch display ahead of the driver just like you’ll find on the Range Rover, and Land Rover’s new Touch Pro Duo System which consists of a 10-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash. When you get in and touch the starter button, the screen tilts forwards as much 30 degrees and it looks very smart as it does its business. Below it is a 10-inch display where the buttons would normally be on the facia.
Powertrain and chassis options
The Range Rover Velar and the Jaguar F-Pace are both kissing cousins, created from a clean-sheet designed based on JLR’s lightweight aluminium architecture. This construction consists of approximately 80 per cent aluminium, with the rest being primarily composed of magnesium and steel. The LED headlamps are reportedly the smallest units fitted to a Land Rover product yet, and are part of the recipe in keeping the overall curb weight of the vehicle down.
The Velar is offered with three engines. A 2.0-litre turbocharged 247hp petrol inline-four cylinder, a 180hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder, and finally a 380hp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. Unsurprisingly, these engine choices are similar to those offered on the Jaguar F-Pace.
Land Rover claims a speedy 0-60mph run of only 5.3 seconds when equipped with the supercharged V6.
As with other Range Rovers, air suspension is available on the Velar. Four-cylinder models utilize steel coil springs, while the V6 Velars get air springs as standard. Land Rover’s familiar Terrain Response 2 traction control system is fitted to the Velar, while an electronically control locking rear differential is optional.
Since Land Rover expect that most of the Range Rover Velar’s clientele will likely have less rugged pursuits than the Discovery’s clientele, there is no low-range 4WD transfer case available.
With its name a nod to Land Rover’s heritage, the Velar is a luxurious high-tech SUV with eye-catching looks that truly make it stand out from the herd. Despite its omission of a low-range 4WD gearbox, the Velar is adept enough off the beaten path for its target customers.
Where it will spend most of its time is on the road, garnering a lot of envious glances from other motorists. Despite its tapered roofline resulting in some compromises, there is still a class-leading 34 cubic feet of storage space behind the second-row seats.
And therefore the Velar’s greatest trick is perhaps that it doesn’t sacrifice too much practicality on the altar of style.