2018 Range Rover Velar Revealed… on-sale here from $70,300+ORC
The 2018 Range Rover Velar has been revealed ahead of its global debut at the Geneva Motor Show this month, and will be here before the end of the year.
THERE WILL BE those who decry Range Rover’s new Velar, as little more than a gingered-up Jaguar F-Pace when it makes its first public appearance at the Geneva Show this month. That would be superficially justifiable but premature, for this fourth Range Rover, which sits between Evoque and Range Rover Sport, has genuine design merit.
In fact, it’s almost as complete a piece of design, inside and out, as the original Audi TT, which emerged from Volkswagen’s Californian design studios in 1998.
“It’s a good reference that feels appropriate,” says Massimo Frascella, Land Rover’s exterior creative director, “I’d take that analogy as a positive.”
For Velar is nothing if not a striking mid-sized, five-seat crossover, designed as family transport for the extremely well heeled. The name, derived from the Latin for sail or veiled, was used on the 26 first prototypes of the first Range Rover model, designed by Spen King and Gordon Bashford, launched in 1970 and arguably the world’s first SUV.
While Frascella says there are no outside influences for the car (though I detect a bit of late Seventies Jeep Wagoneer), he does acknowledge King and Bashford’s work.
“We wanted an emphasis on the classic Range Rover proportions,” he says. “The short front overhangs and long tail give an incredible elegance, moving the emphasis rearward like luxury yachts… There’s nothing quite like it.”
It is of course, the apogee of the stripped-back style evinced by Land Rover’s design department under chief design officer, Gerry McGovern. Even the door handles sink back into the doors and the headlamps are super narrow LED slits.
“We wanted to elevate Range Rover’s design DNA to a new level,” says Frascella. “We were looking for a new level of simplicity, with the flush door handles and slim LED lights. This will do so much for Range Rover.”
Based on the aluminium-intensive body frame also shared by Jaguar’s F-Pace, the Velar will be on sale this summer priced at between $70,300+ORC and $135,400+ORC with the First Edition launch model priced from $167,500. This syncs up with the Jaguar F-Pace, which sells for between $74,340+ORC to $120,415+ORC. The Range Rover Evoque sells from $56,050+ORC to $92,800+ORC and the Sport from $90,900+ORC through to $224,500 for the Sport SVR. According to Land Rover Australia, more than 1100 people have registered locally to be kept informed about the Velar.
The Velar and Velar R-Dynamic core range comprises Standard, S, SE or HSE variants. But it’s the First Edition that will be the most exclusive variant. Available around the world for one-year only, it’ll list from $167,700 and be based on HSE specification, offering either a 3.0-litre V6 petrol or diesel engine and a wealth of extra features as standard, including “full extended leather interior trim to complement the perforated Windsor leather seats in Nimbus or Ebony, 1600W Meridian Signature Sound System, Matrix-Laser LED headlights and 22-inch Split-Spoke wheels with diamond-turned finish”.
But that’s not all, the First Edition will be offered in either Corris Grey, Silicon Silver, and Flux Silver – “a unique satin finish exclusive to the First Edition for the first model year only – which will be meticulously hand-sprayed at Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations’ Oxford Road Technical Centre in the UK”.
The Velar offers one four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine in two states of tune, producing 132kW and 177kW, respectively with 500Nm of torque. Joining the diesel engines is a new Ingenium petrol engine that makes 184kW and will be joined later this year by a 221kW variant. The V6 diesel offers 700Nm of torque with CO2 emissions of only 167g/km. The 280kW supercharged V6 petrol engine enables the Velar to reach 100km/h in just 5.7 seconds.
It’s lower and longer than its bigger Range Rover sisters, with longer wheelbase relative to its length. It’s 4803mm long, on a 2874mm wheelbase, 1903mm wide and 1665mm high, which is 245mm lower than the Range Rover. Where Range Rover has up to now underpinned its appeal with reference to relative off-road virtuosity in class, Velar is unashamedly a crossover competing with conventional 4×4 estates and soft-roaders such as the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and A6 Allroad, Mercedes-Benz GLE-class Coupe and Volvo XC90/V90 4×4 Country.
While Velar sports permanent four-wheel drive and has a wading depth of 650mm (or 600mm with coil springs, air suspension is standard on six-cylinder models and adaptive dampers are included as standard on both), there’s no transfer box giving a set of crawler gears and the maximum towing weight is 2.5 tonnes, so towing is fairly limited. Terrain Response 2 and All Terrain Progress Control are both cost optional extras.
That, however, is where the market is headed, according to McGovern, who eulogies the marque’s “journey from jungle to urban jungle”.
The oily bits consist of a choice of four engines: Land Rover’s own 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel producing 132KW and 177kW; the venerable Peugeot/Ford developed ‘Lion’ 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel; a debut of Land Rover’s Wolverhampton-produced 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit producing 180kW; and a 280kW 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol. All Velars use ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission in various derivations.
Performance across the range runs from top speeds of 192km/h to 248km/h, 0-96km/h acceleration from 8.4sec to 5.3sec and CO2 emissions from 142g/km to 241g/km with Combined economy from 5.5L/100km to 9.5L/100km. There’s no word on how much Velar weighs.
The five-seat cabin is pretty conventional from the dashboard back. Rear seats split 40:20:40 per cent and the top-hinged (optionally powered) hatchback opens on to 558 litres of load space (space saver spare) with all the seats up. The facia design, however, is different from anything else out there, debuting new screen technology, upholstery materials and stark simplicity.
“There was a huge push with the R&D team to take a real step forward in the technology presentation within the vehicle,” says Mark Butler, creative director for interior design.
As well as a single cross beam facing the front-seat passenger, there’s a centre console with twin, high-definition 10.0-inch touch screens stacked one on top of the other, with the lower unit in a blade configuration, and the upper screen hinging out of the top of the dash top when the vehicle is in use. This screen technology and the floating rotary controls are supplied by Panasonic and were first introduced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in the Japanese electronic firm’s Concept Cockpit, including the twin multi-function rotary controls known at the time as ‘Magic Knobs’ – since renamed as ‘Magic Rings’.
Land Rover’s design team has worked closely with Panasonic over the last two and half years, to refine the screen technology and reduce the size of the Magic Rings.
“Most of the conversations with Panasonic were making sure the mechanisms within the Rings were clear enough to make sure there was visual access to the graphics behind them,” says Butler.
The materials choice and design is also innovative and this is the first Range Rover to have a top-model fabric upholstery choice as well as leather.
“[Even] if I take my personal viewpoint away,” says Amy Frascella, chief designer for colour and materials, “I still think it’s the right thing to do for our customers in terms of curator choice and the changing climate – I mean that literally and figuratively. The definition of luxury materials is changing and what customers value in the products they buy is changing as well. We had to be ready for that.”
The fabric is a new 30% wool; 70% polyester mix, a first automotive commission from unpronounceable high-quality furniture fabric supplier, Kvadrat.
“They had to work very hard,” says Amy, “and I have to say that they did everything we asked them to. They never said no.”
She says the salt-and-pepper-hued fabric is just as hard wearing and easy to clean as leather and costs the same. It has passed all Land Rover’s stringent tests for flammability, durability, colour stability, and its propensity to retain moisture, which can create cabin condensation. There’s also a new man-made diamond-cut material on the seats and dashboard cross beam, which has required new and stiffer standards of fit and finish to ensure the straightness of the pattern repeat.
Velar’s design standards have demanded a close collaboration between design and engineering teams to ensure the lines and proportions of the first sketches weren’t compromised. This is something of a familiar story at Land Rover, which developed Julian Thomson’s 2008 LRX concept almost unchanged into the fully productionised 2011 Range Rover Evoque.
“I think the business recognised that when they picked a theme that was so simple and clean that maintaining it through the rest of the development process was going to be a huge challenge,” says Amy Frascella. “I think it’s a great product at the end where all three disciplines were working at a very high level in terms of design… it’s a really awesome thing.”
Question: What do you think of the new Range Rover Velar?