Anglophile SUV enthusiasts take note: Range Rover has just unveiled a new mid-size entry, the Velar, filling a tiny gap that the parent company sees in its luxury-label lineup between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport. The company already fields the Land Rover–branded Discovery and Discovery Sport in roughly this same segment (to say nothing of the corporate cousin, the Jaguar F-Pace), but whereas the Disco models are ostensibly focused on the active, rough-terrain-lifestyle and family portions of the market, the Velar’s Range Rover label leans more to the gentry end of the spectrum, emphasizing elegance, sophistication, on-road performance, and ride quality.
The Velar’s bloodline is unmistakable. A floating roof, an unbroken waistline, and rounded corners culminate in a tidy rear featuring nearly vertical cutlines from the roof to the bumper. Careful review permits us to be reasonably sure the Velar is one and the same as the camouflaged Range Rover Sport Coupe spy shots that have been circulating for some time. The rakish sliding panoramic glass roof is standard across the Velar line. So maybe it’s not as radical a departure into the depths of SUV coupledom as, say, the BMW X4 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe; we respect Land Rover for resisting the urge to go full “coupe” on the Velar.
Created from a clean-sheet design based on JLR’s lightweight aluminum architecture, which also underpins the F-Pace, the Velar’s construction consists of approximately 80 percent aluminum, the balance being primarily composed of magnesium and steel. With a wheelbase of 113.2 inches and a 189.0-inch overall length, it’s approximately two inches shorter than the Range Rover Sport in both dimensions and roughly 17 inches longer than the Evoque. The LED headlamps are reportedly the smallest units fitted to a Land Rover product yet, and their sleek design teams with flush door handles to help the Velar earn a coefficient of drag of just 0.32, making it the most aerodynamically efficient Land Rover yet.
Range Rover says the interior design is the product of “reductionism,” which is meant to offer an uncluttered environment. “Hidden until lit” controls—they illuminate with a touch—add to the calming effect of the interior. That said, the materials are similar in weight and quality to those of pricier Rovers, with a singular exception: Besides the usual selection of supple hides, the Velar will offer optional seat upholstery woven from sustainable resources. Developed with the assistance of European textile manufacturer Kvadrat, the material will be offered initially in a Dapple Grey color paired with synthetic suede inserts of Ebony or Light Oyster. Designers told C/D that they see an emerging trend of upscale consumers preferring sustainable materials to traditional animal hides. They initially expect approximately one in 20 buyers will choose the option at a small premium.
Additionally, the Velar also will serve as the host vehicle for the introduction of the brand’s Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. A long overdue technology upgrade, the setup features two 10-inch high-definition touchscreens promising improved functionality, shorter reaction times, and (fingers crossed) fewer glitches.
The Velar offers a trio of engine choices including with a 247-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter gas inline-four from the Ingenium engine family and a supercharged 380-hp 3.0-liter V-6. There’s also a 180-hp diesel 2.0-liter Ingenium four. A ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard across the board. Land Rover is claiming a 5.3-second zero-to-60-mph run for the Velar when equipped with the V-6 gasoline engine. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.