The all-new Velar — from the Latin “to unveil,” the name originally given to the first Range Rover prototypes built by Land Rover in 1969 — is the company’s fourth family member and slots between the slightly smaller Evoque and the slightly larger Sport.
The biggest difference, however, isn’t about size as much as suitability. Most SUV drivers attack Costco’s parking lot much more often than Big Bend, and the elegantly composed and refined Velar seems more suited to their needs.
That’s not to imply the Velar can’t off-road. Being a Land Rover, its rugged, all-wheel drivetrain and four-corner air suspension chops let it clamber nimbly up a rock face (and live to tell the tale) better than, say, an Escalade. It’s just that the Velar is a bit more glam, a bit more luxurious and quite a bit more sensuous than its siblings.
Given the undeniably good looks of the Evoque, that’s saying something. Built on the same platform as the parent company’s enormously successful Jaguar F Pace — winner of the 2017 World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year Award at the New York International Auto Show — it’s no surprise that the Velar looks so dramatically capable.
But the Velar drives distinctly differently. Not quite as sporty in handling or acceleration, the Velar nevertheless feels solid and secure, yet with a certain lightness — in fact, like a Range Rover.
The Velar’s taut proportions and sleek silhouette are also all its own. This difference is dramatically emphasized by the super-slim matrix laser-LED headlights and super-cool flush door handles that slide out from the body with James Bond slickness. The range of available gigantic 22-inch wheels further the dramatics, even though that means the ride is a touch more sensitive on our pothole-strewn roads.
The striking interior is a wonderfully well-appointed place of elegant simplicity. There are only three large satin chrome multi-function knobs controlling the center stack’s two high-definition, 10-inch infotainment screens. The driver sees either a 5-inch TFT display or, depending on available trim level, a 12.3-inch display.
Fit and finish is superb. Available materials include Windsor leather in a cut diamond pattern that forms an integral part of the stainless-steel speaker structure for the Meridian 17- and 23-speaker audio systems.
There’s also a premium textile available as a no-cost alternative to leather upholstery. Developed with Kvadrat, Europe’s leading manufacturer of high-quality textiles, the material is a durable wool-blend contrasted with a suede cloth insert created from recycled plastic bottles, then crafted into a soft nonwoven material. Configurable ambient lighting is available in a choice of 10 different colors.
Power comes from a choice of three engines. The twin-scroll turbocharged 247-hp 2.0-liter inline-four delivers 269 lb-ft of torque, while the 380-hp twin-vortex supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 cranks out 332 lb-ft. There’s also a 180-hp, 317 lb-ft 2.0-liter turbo-diesel four. All are mated with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard, as is the dual-screen infotainment system and a host of safety features.
Three versions are available: the standard Velar, Velar R-Dynamic and the Velar First Edition, which is only available for the first year of sale and jam-packed with every available option. Trim levels include Standard, S, SE and HSE. There’s also an additional choice of Black and Luxury Exterior Packs for an even more distinguished appearance.
Pricing starts at $49,900 for the standard Velar, $60,100 for the R-Dynamic and $89,300 for the First Edition, all arriving later this year.
Given Jaguar Land Rover’s recent success with the F Pace and the instant classic F-Type, there’s little doubt that the Velar will be the company’s latest offering to take an SUV-crazy America, and the world, by storm.
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