June 2020 | 1033 words | 4-minute read
Peer through the enviable back catalogue of Land Rover and there is no dearth of talented metal especially with stalwarts like the Range Rover or the Discovery.
However, one car from the Land Rover stable that made the automotive world let out a collective gasp when its covers were peeled off for the first time was the Range Rover Velar.
A game-changer in the increasingly crowded SUV genre and a brave new direction for Land Rover, the Velar’s positioning is unique, with the Land Rover managing to carve a niche within a niche. This is an SUV with its talents skewed towards on-road driving yet maintaining the original essence of a Land Rover. A tall order but Land Rover has managed it.
The Velar story revolves around its design. Cars normally have a 'bad angle' — that is where eventually the pen of the designer takes an ungainly turn; in the Velar, however, there is none and it's an exercise in restrained brilliance.
A design classic with clean and minimalistic detailing layered with the right amount of theatrical flourishes, Velar's proportions are svelte and tightly wrapped around the typical towering stance of any SUV carrying the Range Rover badge.
The Velar in India is now locally manufactured with the trim on offer being the 'R-Dynamic Design S' which enhances its appeal further. There is contrast black detailing peppered all over the car that looks fantastic; the wheels are just the right size at 20 inches, filling up the wheel arches perfectly.
The slightly sloping rear-end is in perfect contrast with the authoritative front and clad in this white shade, the Velar can lay claim to be the best-looking SUV in the world. Open the door and ingress/egress is easy due to its slightly lowered stance. Once inside, you are cocooned in this world of indulgent materials and a myriad of touch surfaces.
Buttons are passé as the Velar was the first Land Rover to get the 'Touch Pro Duo' system of dual touch screens. Thus, you have two large HD touch screens dominating the centre console and even the instrument cluster is fully digital. The tech fest continues to the controls on the steering wheel and the door pads are touch surfaces too!
While forgoing physical buttons takes some getting used to, it's easy once you get the hang of it plus the upper touch screen falls into the driver's line of vision. Crucial functions are accessed there while the lower half gives you control of dynamics of the car along with other controls.
Equipment wise the sole trim option throws in pretty much everything that you would expect in an SUV of this price. A massive glass roof, four-zone climate control, ambient lighting, a 380W Meridian Audio system, Wi-Fi and Pro and more! The Velar also does away with the conventional key fob; instead you wear it via an 'Activity key wristband'.
- Distinctive design cues from the front bumper to the rear of the vehicle add to its progressive exterior.
- Calm interiors with refined detailing provide a contemporary driving experience.
- Every millimeter off-road capability tackles all kinds of challenging terrains.
- Its Dynamic handling pack enables it to tow 2400kg with ease.
- A high-definition Interactive Driver Display, an InControl infotainment system and Touch Pro Duo, deliver a wealth of information and entertainment.
- An advanced 4-cylinder Ingenium engine delivers refined and responsive driving.
- Adaptive Dynamics ensure enhance ride quality.
- Hill Descent Control, Terrain Response 2 and an All-Wheel Drive system deliver unrivalled, all-weather and all-surface capability.
- Perforated Grained Leather seats, memory front seats and reclining rear seats provide comfort and convenience.
- The 8-speed Automatic Transmission combines smooth shifting with exceptionally rapid response.
- A fully independent coil sprung suspension system aids a composed drive.
Comfort & Convenience:
- Four-zone Climate Control adjusts temperature levels, direction and intensity of airflow.
- Charging points for all five occupants provide seamless connectivity.
- ISOFIX points in the rear seats make it easy to install child seats.
- A comprehensive system of six airbags provides protection for all occupants.
- Sports Command Driving Position helps deliver a more confident and engaged drive.
- Electronic Traction Control optimises traction and automatically varies the braking force to minimise stopping distance.
On the driving bit, my first acquaintance with the Velar was on a tightly screwed road with various corners dangling from each direction. A stern test for the Velar but a few seconds behind the wheel shows how tarmac biased this Land Rover is. Unlike the Range Rover or the Discovery, the body roll is much more contained, and you can have fun throwing it around. Granted it is not a sports car, but it is easily the best Land Rover to drive yet. There is more connection and the slightly lower driving position gives it a sportier feel.
The Velar has two engine options, namely a pair of 2.0 four-cylinder petrol and diesel versions from the 'Ingenium' line-up of engines. We drove the petrol one and 250 bhp/365Nm not only sounds ample but gives the Velar enough oomph to match its style. However, the power delivery itself is not frantic; instead it's smooth with the 8-speed automatic being an able companion in this. The engine builds power in a linear fashion and cruises very well.
Despite its on-road prowess, I could not help but check out its off-road credentials; after all, it wears the Land Rover badge. The Velar has the latest Terrain Response 2 system, and the car handles tricky conditions rather well as the electronics take care of everything. Although not a hardcore mud-plugger like some of its siblings, the Velar is way more capable off-road than what it looks to be. An important point is that it gets a full-sized spare wheel — something which is reassuring to say the least.
The best part about the Velar though is its price. At Rs. 72 lakh, its value quotient makes it a lot more tempting. For this price it would be difficult to find a better-looking luxury SUV. Take a bow, Land Rover.
—Author Somnath Chatterjee is an independent lifestyle journalist.