Last week in the Western Cape the Velar, the latest addition to the Range Rover line-up, was launched.
Positioned between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, the Velar will be available with a choice of six different engines and four trim levels from Base, S, SE and HSE and R-Dynamic trim which adds sportier exterior and interior trim.
At launch a special First Edition model will be available and is equipped with many optional features as standard.
Sharing the same platform as the Jaguar F-Pace and featuring lightweight aluminium architecture, the Velar is an innovative member of the Land Rover family, but that name has a long history.
According to the experts, velar is derived from Latin and means a veil or to hide and this was very significant in the history of what was to become the Range Rover. In the latter half of the 1960s, Land Rover was involved in the development of a very different category of vehicle.
The parent company Rover, keen to keep it under wraps and to ensure that opposition companies did not get a look at the new project, set up a false trail by establishing a dummy manufacturing concern, Velar of Croydon.
Clever! The Velar is without a doubt a very significant vehicle for the British manufacturer and its styling has taken a new direction.
The stunning profile reflects the design philosophy of minimalism or as the designer refers to it, reductive design.
The styling is the closest to the original concept drawings I have ever seen. It’s not often that a production model retains the element of design that excited the motoring world, but Velar has done just that.
Clean, uncluttered lines are complimented by the very narrow LED headlight clusters and the flush deployable door handles, the combination of which result in the lowest co-efficient of drag ever in a Land Rover at just 0.32.
Those flush door handles have been thoroughly tested to ensure reliability.
One test meant covering them in 4mm of ice and then operating the remote, and they all deployed.
Impressive, but then Range Rover’s do go anywhere. Open those doors and you will enter a cabin that definitely is not fussy, emphatically demonstrated by the absence of most of the switchgear normally found on the dashboard and centre console.
Most of the controls are part of the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, with its two 10-inch touch screens, the elimination of dials and buttons gives the impression of increased space in the cabin.
Driver instrumentation on the Base and S models is supplied by analogue dials and a central TFT information display.
The rest of the range replaces the analogue instruments with a 12 inch high definition, virtual cluster which can be configured as a two dial display with a central info panel, or a single dial flanked by information panels or as a full navigation map view.
Steering wheel controls are backlit using capacitive technology to sense intuitive touch gestures. The driver can also programme certain functions to the controls on the steering wheel.
Interior finishes range from fabric on the base models to perforated Winsor leather on the HSE models. Luggage capacity is 673 litres and the rear seat 40:20:40 split allows larger loads to be carried.
I am pleased to note that a full size alloy wheel is supplied as the spare rather than a repair kit. Legroom both front and rear is fairly generous and seating comfort very good.
The Velar offers three petrol and three diesel engines. The petrol engines are two 4 cylinder 2.0 litre units and a 3.0 litre V6, both four cylinder units employ turbochargers.
The Ingenium P250 delivers 183kW at 5 500 r/min with 365 Nm of torque between 1 200 and 4 500 r/min, consumption is claimed at 7.6 l/100km.
The more powerful P300 ups the power output to 221kW at 5 500 r/min and 400Nm between 1200 and 5 500 r/min with a claimed fuel fi gure of 7.8 l/100km.
The Ingenium P380 tops the petrol engine range, the supercharged V6 punches out 280kW at 6 500r/min plus 450 Nm of torque between 3 500 and 5 000 r/min. Acceleration to 100 km/h is claimed at 5.7 seconds and consumption
at 9.4 l/100km.
Like the petrol variants the diesel also comprises a pair of 2.0 litre engines and a 3.0 litre V6.
The Ingenium D180 employs a turbocharger to provide 132 kW at 4 000 r/min with 430 Nm of torque at 1 500 Nm and fuel consumption claimed at 5.4 l/100km, its more powerful sibling develops 177 kW at 4 000 r/min and torque up to 500 Nm at 1 500 r/min, 5.8 litres is the claimed consumption.
The largest capacity in the diesel line up is the 3 litre V6 which produces 221 kW at 4 000 r/min with an extremely healthy torque fi gure of 700 Nm between 1 500 and 1 750 r/min and an expected consumption of around 6.4 litres
for every hundred kilometres.
All the power units are coupled to ZF eight speed automatic transmissions with all wheel drive and Intelligent Driveline Dynamics.
Two diff erent transmissions are used dependant on the model’s torque demands. Land Rover’s Terrain Response system ensures optimum performance off road.
Standard suspension is by coil springs on all models with the exception of the two V6 powered models which are fitted with adjustable air suspension, this system is also available as an option across the range.
As you would expect safety is of prime importance in the Velar.
Six airbags, ABS, EBD, EBA, electronic traction control, dynamic stability control, roll stability control, cornering brake control, hill launch assist, trailer stability assist and lane departure warning are just a few of the features to ensure occupant safety.
The launch route encompassed freeways, rural roads both tar and gravel and the Cape’s inclement weather assured that those dirt roads provided a good test for the AWD system. Ride quality was good but at lower speeds on unpaved roads the ride became quite hard.
At increased speed it was no longer an issue, with large alloy wheels and a relatively low profile tyre it is to be expected.
The new Velar, with its outstanding styling, quality finishes and performance is certain to attract new owners to the fold.
Pricing ranges from R947 700 for the Base model 2.0 litre diesel through to the range topping Velar R-Dynamic HSE at R1 356 900 and the special First Edition P380 at R1 539 800.