2018 Range Rover Velar… it’s still a Range Rover
The 2018 Range Rover Velar might be based on the same platform as the Jaguar F-Pace but there’s enough difference to keep them from clashing.
THE JUST-REVEALED 2018 Range Rover Velar uses the same aluminium architecture as the Jaguar F-Pace (as opposed to the platform used by the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport). And while its engine range and wheelbase are largely identical, the Velar is longer and roomier in the back with a bigger boot (558L for the Velar Vs 508L for the F-Pace). And this alone helps to keep the two from clashing.
Indeed, the Range Rover Velar might prove to be the best-selling Range Rover yet with Land Rover telling Practical Motoring that, just six days after showing its teaser image it had received more than 40,000 ‘keep me informed’ sign-ups on its website, which is almost 10 times more than the Evoque at the same time, and the Evoque is the firm’s biggest seller. Locally, more than 1100 Australians have asked to be kept informed.
Ensuring the Velar was still a Range Rover was important to Land Rover. “People use their Range Rovers to carry stuff,” one marketer told Practical Motoring at the reveal overnight. Further differentiating the Velar from the F-Pace is that it features Range Rover’s Command Driving Position (thanks to a higher hip-point and lower window line. “You sit on a Range Rover, you sit in a Jaguar,” we were told.
The Velar has longer suspension travel than the Jaguar F-Pace, and gets air suspension as standard on six-cylinder models with Adaptive Dynamics standard across the range. The air suspension set-up offers a 46mm raise above normal running height for off-road conditions (251mm total ground clearance and 213mm when fitted with coil springs only) for a 650mm wading depth – it will lower by 18mm when speed rises to between 50-80km/h, and a further 10mm drop for fast-road aero, and a 40mm drop for access.
The Velar also offers a Ground Detection function for when you’re wading through water and will raise the car as much as it can if it detects an obstacle under water. controls inside the luggage compartment allow the suspension to be raised or lowered by 50mm respectively.
Standard fitment will be Terrain Response, while Land Rover’s updated Terrain Response 2 which adds an Auto function allowing the car to adjust its terrain settings automatically to suit the conditions, will be standard on the limited-edition, First Edition model and cost-optional on other models. The Velar marks the first time, Terrain Response can’t be accessed via a dedicated rotary dial on the centre console, instead it’s now accessed via the infotainment system’s rotary dial or the touchscreen itself. This contributes to the clean, uncluttered look of the interior which is, I can say, after having sat in the car, a very calm place to be.
That sense of serenity is largely the result of the two 10.0-inch touchscreens which have meant there are almost no physical buttons in the cabin. In a car that might spend a bit of time bouncing around on a dirt road this might not be ideal, but Land Rover said the new Touch Pro Duo system features a flat hierarchy meaning you don’t need to navigate through several layers to get to what you want. Normally you can do one touch stroke, I was told, and then you can use the twin rotary context-dependent knobs to perform the adjustment. As you do, much of the screen dims and the chosen function is highlighted. The steering wheel buttons also have tiny screens in them so their pictogram changes with context.
And, there are other tricks to reduce input steps. Instead of the usual navigation > destination > enter address, you just start typing the address into a search box and it’ll try to find it for you. Just hope you don’t live on Thunder Road when you have lots of Springsteen on your phone.
As for your finger bouncing around, the armrests adjust so you can brace your hand for the lower screen. The upper screen is touch sensitive too, but mostly the lower screen is input and the upper one output. But they claim it’s all very configurable.
The new control interface also has ‘learning ability.’ This means, it remembers where you frequently drop the suspension for access (likely your home and work) and after a while does it automatically for you in that GPS location. If you usually put the seat heaters on when it’s below 5-degrees outside, it’ll start doing it for you automatically. Clever.
To drive, compared with the F-Pace and with other Range Rovers? Vehicle Line Director Kevin Stride tells Practical Motoring, “It’s a Range Rover, so it’s all about refinement. The ride, especially the primary ride, is calmer and plusher than the Jaguar. The F-ace is sharper, but there’s a lot we can do with the Integrated Driving Dynamics to make it agile.” So you know, IDD is the software controlling the centre diff, the active rear diff (optional), the adaptive dampers and the torque vectoring by brakes.
The Velar looks good in pictures but in the metal, it is a breathtaking design. Land Rover said, that with a Cd (aerodynamic efficiency) of just 0.32 the Velar is the most aerodynamically-efficient Land Rover and Range Rover ever. Achieving this figure has been made possible thanks to things like the smooth body detailing (no door handles standing proud of the bodywork) as well as the tapered shape of the Velar. Those door handles, by the way, will punch their way open even with a 4mm coating of ice in -20 degrees.
The Range Rover Velar goes on-sale in Australia later this year with entry-model pricing from $70,300, which undercuts the Jaguar F-Pace.