Velar's lofty unveiling
Land Rover's elegant SUV proves more than a match for Norway's rugged landscape
On a rugged and gravelled Norwegian ski slope, a fleet of Range Rover Velars wind their way up more than 1,000 metres to a cable-car station in the clouds. It's a harsh and remote location, with only a few sightseers reaching the summit to cast a curious eye over the new car. Land Rover's lunch stops are always an opportunity to demonstrate the off-road capabilities of their cars and the Velar proves to be not only a family friendly SUV but a genuine off-roader.
With the launch of the Evoque, Land Rover proved it could build cars that could be both desirable and capable, with the Velar being the best example yet of this new direction. Land Rover is a name synonymous with blazing trails across deserts, fording rivers and scaling the peaks. But all-terrain capability, while still crucial, is taking a back seat to design, and Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's chief designer, has created a car that is capable, cosseting and modern and is one of the most elegant SUVs on the market.
Derived from the Latin word "velare" - meaning "to veil" or "cover" - the Velar is named after a 1969 prototype that eventually evolved into the production-spec Range Rover. It plugs the gap between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport and is designed to compete with the likes of the Porsche Macan, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and Volvo XC60.
The distinctive styling owes much to the Evoque, but in terms of size it is closer to the Range Rover Sport - in fact there is a mere 47mm in length between them. The Velar is also considerably larger than many rivals.
But the real beauty of the newcomer lies beneath the striking exterior, for it is inside where the design and technology really evolves. The futuristic infotainment system, 'Touch Pro Duo', comes with two high-definition 10-inch touch-screens and two multi-function rotary controllers, while the burnished copper-coloured detailing adds to the sophisticated feel.
The seats are comfortable, with significant legroom front and back. There is plenty of storage space throughout, plus an impressive 673-litres of boot capacity.
Powering the range are two 2-litre diesel engine options; 180bhp, 240bhp and a range-topping 3-litre V6 diesel (300bhp). In a clear indication that times are changing, there are also three petrols: 2-litre with 250PS or 300PS and a 3-litre V6. All have an eight-speed automatic transmission.
On the road, the Velar is agile, smooth and responsive. Ride quality is well balanced, leaning more toward comfort than dynamics.
Prices start from €62,240 and the range comprises Standard, S, SE, HSE specifications and an exclusive First Edition.
Premium SUVs are among the most profitable and popular segment in the car market today, with plenty of choice, but Land Rover is still the brand against which all others are judged. The Velar proves that Land Rover is a company poised to capitalise on the global sales success of SUVs by constantly evolving the type of car they build. If you are considering something to enrich your cosmopolitan lifestyle that is as versatile and sophisticated as it is capable off-road, then the Velar should be high on your list.