Derived from the Latin word velare, to ‘cover’ or ‘veil’, and used on the original Range Rover prototypes of the late '60s, the Velar also marks the fourth model in the Range Rover family, sitting between the smaller Range Rover Evoque and larger Range Rover Sport.
Land Rover Design Chief, Gerry McGovern, who also created the ground-breaking Evoque, has written two books on automotive design.
The first, in 1998, was entitled Auto Style: The Art of Automotive Design, and the second in 2007, titled Less Is More. It’s the latter, which relates so perfectly to the design of new Range Rover Velar and its minimalist styling themes, inside and out.
“At Land Rover, we have a design strategy that’s been in place for quite a few years now. It’s a design strategy that helped create the original Evoque, and it’s the basis of everything we do. It’s not just words, we can design to it. It’s about innovation, relevance, sustainability and desirability.
“Nobody really needs luxury stuff, they don’t even need Range Rovers, but people desire them. For us, desirability is about three things: Visceral - when I look at it, do I desire it? Behavioural - once I’ve got it, does it do what it’s supposed to do? And lastly, reflective - once I’ve used it and owned it, does it still float my boat, does it still behave and work in the way it should, and I building a lasting relationship with it?
“That to me is the absolute core of emotional connection and emotional design.”
McGovern also reminded the audience that Land Rover was the master brand with three distinct families.
“Range Rover, which epitomises sophistication and refinement; Discovery, which emphasises versatility, while the new Defender, which you will see soon enough, because we’re creating a whole new generation of them, and they will be about durability. You’ll be able to kick the hell out of them, and they’ll come back for more.”
He also spoke about leadership in the various design disciplines, and the importance of being ahead of the game in this regard, with the Range Rover Velar being a prime example.
“Every vehicle we create has to have leadership in design and engineering integrity. And at any point we don’t think we’re hitting these disciplines at the highest level, we will stop the programme. We are becoming ruthless when it comes to key brand attributes."
“So, while we now have four distinct Range Rover models, we’re already in the process of replacing many of these vehicles, and part of our job in design (along with engineering) is to look at opportunities for the business; to go in areas we may not have thought about previously, which is exactly what the Range Rover Velar is all about.
“We call it ‘White Space’ – the Range Rover Evoque was another one of those opportunities. It’s what allows us to give the brand greater stretch and greater resonance in the market place. But most importantly this is a strategy that allows us to give customers the most compelling products”, McGovern added.
He also talked about global shifts in the automotive world, like electrification and autonomous vehicles as being key issues that could fundamentally change the way designers look at new products. You add into that future legislation, social expectations and competition of the day and it’s a complex landscape, as McGovern explained.
“As automotive designers, there’s a lot to think about, but what we’re absolutely passionate about is maintaining our uniqueness in the market place. As we grow, and become more universally desirable and less specialist as a brand, we cannot afford to be generic in anything we do. We want to remain unique but more universally appealing by creating compelling products," he said.
McGovern also alluded to even more new ‘white space’ for the luxury brand. “To be honest there’s lots of space for Range Rover, because it’s a brand that has incredible equity, and the new Velar is a perfect example of where this brand is headed.
“For me, though, the acid test in design is that transition from concept through to production, and the measure is the dilution. How much does it get diluted from that original thought?
“With Velar, there’s virtually no dilution at all, and that’s a tribute to the design team as a whole."
“There will be two versions to start with, and when you see these in the flesh, you can see they are the same car, but they do have a different tonality; the R-Dynamic is the more stealth-like version, with a sporting attitude due to the bigger engines it can take, while the standard Velar, which is the more formal version where you can see that classic DNA and more bright work with the floating roof”.
Inside, Velar displays the same Avant-garde approach as the exterior, with a combination of all-new technology and the elimination of nearly all standard switchgear.
“Almost all the switchgear has been replaced by Velar’s multiple touchscreens, and the theatre is created once you start using the ‘Secret-till-lit’, which lights the vehicle up.
“There’s also very high levels of precision, using new materials. The split-rim steering wheel is beautiful. It’s also the most aerodynamic Range Rover thus far and the reason is we want our vehicles to be more sustainable”.
Despite the Velar’s global reveal only today, over 40,000 expressions of interest have already been received.
Listen to the CarAdvice team discuss the Range Rover Velar pricing below, and catch more like this at caradvice.com/podcast.