There’s a good chance you know more about the new Range Rover Velar than you think. Sometimes, actually sampling a car doesn’t tell you very much more about it than you already knew. Instead, one can turn to the words, pictures and general cultural stew that swirls around it – most especially during the fevered period of the launch event – to get a sense of what it means to its designers and makers and what, in turn, it should mean to us.
The Velar is the fourth model in the Range Rover line up. When we previewed the car, in our April 2017 issue (see W*217), it was obvious how proud the company was of the new design language on display. In the wild, away from the artificial confines of the Land Rover design studio, it remains a handsome beast. Intended to slot in above the popular Evoque (the car that kickstarted the company’s current manufacturing and design renaissance) yet below the Range Rover Sport, it does a good job of trumping the former’s sleek looks and the latter’s muscular elegance. The Velar achieves the rare trick of making its siblings look instantly a few years out of date (which of course they are in design terms), moving the game onwards.
Buy a Velar and you won’t feel anything less than forward-thinking. Elements like the flush door handles, the smooth radii of the bodywork, the vast 23in wheels filling out great architecturally precise wheel arches and an interior awash with studiously well thought out flat screens, all contribute to this positive impression. All this information, however, can be gleaned from the press material and a cursory walk along the rows of shiny new Velars lined up on the tarmac of Norway’s Molde Airport.
Both on-road and off-, the Velar delivers impressive refinement
You also don’t need to get behind the wheel to know that both on-road and off the Velar delivers impressive refinement. Promising nothing less than class-leading refinement and driving feel, Land-Rover’s engineering team have spent a couple of years tuning this machine to fulfil your preconceptions. It will simply perform as required. We cruised amongst Norway’s soporifically sedate traffic without ever feeling the need to push the performance envelope. Similarly, we were also directed over a short and spiky (artificial) off-road course without requiring an axle-deep yomp along the muddy banks of a fjord for confirmation of its abilities as a 4x4.
Instead, Land Rover was keen to impress upon us the Range Rover Velar’s place in the pantheon of inspirationally creative and cultured objects. It did so by lining up a short awards ceremony alongside the launch, honouring a small group of inspirationally creative and cultured people and the objects and services they had created. It was accompanied by rambling talks on the value of non-specific radical change, innovation and inspiration. Change is everywhere. So learn to embrace it. Or change yourself. Or something.
The Velar is no game-changer. It exudes quiet confidence in a slick, contemporary package. By virtue of its newness it is more appealing than many competitors – even those bearing the same badge – and that rare driver who requires the combination of refinement and raw ability will be especially rewarded. For the rest of us, it reinforces Range-Rover’s image as a supplier of objects of raw desire.