Above and beyond is Land Rover’s official slogan; it’s one that’s found anytime you see the company’s logo during presentations to members of the international press. Recently, we participated in a get-together with the British company’s design and engineering team to discuss the latest addition to its prestigious family, the Range Rover Velar.
Though it had been announced a week earlier via a teaser photo that had duly piqued our curiosity, Land Rover had made only brief mention of launching the Velar under the Range Rover banner. Its look is streamlined and makes it look at first glance like it could be the new version of the Evoque, which has had monstrous success since its arrival on the market.
Now the Velar is here. The newest member of the Land Rover family, whose name is derived from the latin term for “veiled”, lost its veil officially on March 1st, and we were there for the event. The Velar slides into the automaker’s lineup in between the highly decorated Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, in a bid to grab a foothold in a segment that Land Rover considers critical for the success of the company. The platform of the Jaguar F-TYPE served as the foundation of the new SUV’s architecture, which makes widespread use of aluminum in its construction.
The setting for the launch was as unique as the vehicle itself: the new London location of the Design Museum, inaugurated in November 2016 and designed by John Pawson, an architect renowned for his designs rich in elegance and refinement – just like the Velar. The reveal was carried out with great pomp and in front of a horde of some 800 journalists and other invited guests. Unsurprisingly, the luxurious lifestyle evoked by the new Velar meant there was also a number of internationally known actors and models on hand.
Land Rover’s chief designer Gerry McGovern, the design genius behind the Evoque, declared “we cannot afford to be generic in anything we do. We want to remain unique but more universally appealing by creating compelling products.”
In fact, to the great pleasure of design lovers, Jaguar Land Rover and the Design Museum announced the establishment of a new partnership: the automaker and its new Velar were part of a just-ended exhibit at the museum entitled Reductionism, which explored the philosophy of stripping away complexity to reveal true quality.
We had the opportunity to chat with several of the key figures who contributed to the production of the new Range Rover Velar. Finbar McFall, Director of Global Product Marketing for Land Rover, explained to us that the Velar is taking on the highly competitive mid-size SUV segment and aiming directly at the Porsche Macan and BMW X4. “But we believe that our product is unique and offers many things that the others don’t,” he said.
To which Gerry McGovern added, “It brings a new dimension of glamour, modernity and elegance to the brand.”
From concept to finished product
Begun three years ago, the Velar project is the fruit of a close collaboration between the design and engineering teams. Every element was pushed to the extreme, with the basic idea being to create a vehicle of elegant simplicity that flows out of a spirit of “reductionism”.
Now, what does that mean exactly, “reductionism”? This philosophy seeks to filter out the superfluous and arrive at a final product that includes all the necessary ingredients for exceptional driving, comfort and overall aesthetics. And it’s very clear that it’s a success! Remarked Gerry McGovern, “the acid test in design is that transition from concept through to production, and the measure is the dilution.” He added that “with Velar, there’s virtually no dilution at all, and that’s a tribute to the design team as a whole.”
The interior of the Range Rover Velar is a veritable sanctuary, one fitted with state-of-the-art materials. Amy Frascella, Chief Designer Colour and Materials, called on the services of Kvadrat, a firm specialized in the fabrication and use of high-end materials. The leather upholstery features a diamond motif that contributes to the feeling of great attention to detail; this motif in fact reappears in several places inside the cabin. Buyers also have the option of choosing eco-responsible seat coverings as an alternative. In addition, much attention has been paid to the acoustics of the interior, with engineer Orla Murphy given the mandate to enhance occupants’ sensory experience even further.
The dashboard of the Velar is greatly streamlined, and features simple, horizontal lines; the central console, meanwhile, is fitted with the all-new InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, which includes two “intuitive” HD touchscreen displays. Gone are all those buttons, replaced by just two configuration knobs. “The connected infotainment system learns from you and anticipates your needs, serving you what you want, when you want it – but never intrudes letting you enjoy the drive, while it takes the stress out of daily life, like any good butler or digital personal assistant should,” explained Peter Virk, Director of Connected Car & Future Technology at Jaguar Land Rover.
Outside, the Range Rover Velar is all discreet elegance, blessed as it is with such sleek, purified lines. Among the modern elements that stand out: deployable door handles, LED lamps and deeply inset sculpted rear lights. There are still a number of distinctive Range Rover elements, of course, beginning with the clamshell-type hood and the floating roof. Another point of particular pride for the car’s designers is the coefficient of drag, which sits at just 0.32 – an impressive achievement for such a massive vehicle.
On the technical side
In Canada, the Range Rover Velar will be available with two engine configurations: a 2L Ingenium diesel engine offering 180 hp and a super-charged V6 gasoline engine with a total power output of up to 380 hp. Each will be twinned with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
The list of included technologies is long, and includes a system called Configurable Dynamics which allows for firming up the suspension, improving the accelerator’s responsiveness and reducing the influence of the power-assisted steering. These features are offered standard in the First Edition model and as options in the rest of the lineup.
Treating yourself to a new Velar in Canada will set you back $62,000 for the base model with turbo-diesel engine, or $95,000 for the First Edition gasoline-engine version. We hope to share with you our first impressions very shortly, so check back often at Auto123.com!