Style and substance
The Range Rover Velar wears a name that goes right back to the very beginning of Land Rover’s storied luxury off-road dynasty. Velar—from the Latin word for veil or hide—was the name put on prototypes of the original Range Rover sent out for real world testing in the late 1960s. They looked so different from the rough, tough, workhorse Land Rover that company execs figured if they used different badges no one would it guess it was their secret new SUV.
The 2018 Range Rover Velar is perhaps less unexpected. Like the Range Rover Evoque, the stunning Velar looks like it’s driven straight out of Land Rover Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern’s concept studio. Which is pretty much what happened. “We desperately wanted to hold on to the design vision,” says Velar vehicle line director Kevin Stride. “It’s been an obsession.”
The Velar’s exterior was styled by Italian Massimo Frascella, who in the early 2000s worked with McGovern at Lincoln. You can see echoes of McGovern and Frascella’s Lincoln show cars in the Velar’s sheer surfacing, extravagant proportions, and obsessively reductive detailing. The low roofline, slender LED headlights, and flush door handles that motor outwards like those on a Tesla, help contribute to a drag coefficient of just 0.32. Thus making the Velar the most aerodynamic Land Rover in history.
Inside, everything from instruments to infotainment system to the HVAC settings on the center console is digitally presented on high-resolution screens and hidden from view until the ignition is switched on. The effect is dramatic and modern, and it’s accentuated by innovative material choices that include the option of high-fashion woolen fabric with suede cloth inserts for the seats.
The Velar is a clever mixture of Jaguar and Land Rover hardware. The body structure is based on the aluminum-intensive D7a architecture of the Jaguar XE and XF sedans and the F-Pace SUV, with which the Velar shares its 113.1-in wheelbase. But features such as the height-adjustable air suspension, Terrain Response, and active locking rear differential are all Land Rover.
Although it doesn’t have a low-range transfer case, Land Rover engineers claim the Velar is still more off-road capable than most SUVs. The height adjustable suspension, standard on six-cylinder models, can raise and lower the Velar 3.9 inches to give a maximum ground clearance of 9.9 inches, and it can wade through water more than 2 feet deep. The Velar boasts more wheel travel than the F-Pace, and the finely calibrated Land Rover Terrain Response system delivers better off-road performance.
The Velar will be available with the choice of three engines when it goes on sale in the North America this summer. In addition to the 180-hp Ingenium 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel and 380-hp supercharged 3.0-liter gas V-6 shared with the Jaguar F-Pace, buyers will be offered a turbocharged gas-burning 2.0-liter Ingenium four-banger that develops 247 hp. JLR claims the new engine will propel the Velar to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which compares favorably with the 5.3-second 0-60-mph time claimed for the supercharged V-6 version. All engines drive all four wheels through the ubiquitous eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, and the V-6s are speed limited to 155 mph (249 km/h).
Despite its high-style demeanor, the Velar is intended to slot between the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, and it will be available in four trim levels. The entry level Velar will be very competitively priced at $50,895 USD but will only be offered with the 247-hp inline-four, and coil-spring suspension. However all three engines will be available in the other trim levels: S, R-Dynamic SE, and R-Dynamic HSE.
With the 2.0-liter gas engine under the hood, the Velar S starts at $55,695 USD, the R-Dynamic SE at $61,095 USD, and the R-Dynamic HSE at $68,595 USD. The 180-hp diesel adds $1,500 USD to those prices, and the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 adds $9,500 USD. As with the Jaguar F-Pace, there will be a limited run of 500 First Edition Velars available only for the 2018 model year. Priced at $90,295 USD, these will all come standard with the 380-hp V-6, full two-tone leather interior, copper weave carbon fiber trim, a 1,600W Meridien sound system, special 22-inch alloy wheels, and the choice of three colors including an exclusive satin finish silver from Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations.
Like the haute couture Evoque launched in 2011, the rakish, low-slung Velar is what McGovern calls a white space vehicle for the storied off-road brand. And though he acknowledges other automakers have already launched sporty, coupelike SUVs, JLR execs hope the Velar will emulate the Evoque, 60 percent of which are purchased by women, in terms of attracting new customers behind the wheel of a Range Rover.