For Hol­ly­wood hills

The fourth mem­ber of the Range Rover team has movie-star looks and off-road tech from cen­tral cast­ing.

The Courier-Mail - Cars Guide - - Prestige - John Carey re­ports

ITS Range Rover badge guar­an­tees the new Velar will be able to slog through mud, skip across sand dunes and scale rocky trails.

But the tough­est test of all for this stylish new all-wheeldrive SUV will be on the smooth and shiny floors of show­rooms around the world. Will it be able to ma­noeu­vre con­fi­dently into the space be­tween Range Rover’s ex­ist­ing Evoque and Sport mod­els?

This is where the Velar is de­signed to fit. It will in­crease the Range Rover line-up from three to four mod­els and pro­vide the Bri­tish SUV spe­cial­ist with a com­peti­tor for the pop­u­lar Porsche Ma­can, and BMW’s kinda-coupe pair, the X4 and X6.

Some­thing sim­i­lar was never even con­sid­ered by Range Rover Velar, says Mas­simo Fras­cella. Land Rover’s Ital­ian­born creative di­rec­tor for ex­te­rior de­sign says the Velar had “a very nat­u­ral birth”. The coupe pro­file “takes half of the el­e­gance away,” he says. “I’m be­ing, you know, nice.”

The Range Rover will ar­rive in Aus­tralia in Novem­ber or De­cem­ber. The least costly Velar will wear a $70,300 pric­etag but will come with­out stan­dard sat­nav.

The most ex­pen­sive will be $135,400, but for the first year on sale even more costly First Edi­tion ver­sions will be of­fered.

Th­ese will come only with the most pow­er­ful V6 petrol and diesel en­gines and ev­ery avail­able op­tion (in­clud­ing gi­ant 22-inch wheels), and will cost nearly $170,000.

Like a Hol­ly­wood star, the Velar has the looks to com­mand hefty fees. There’s a touch of mo­tor show con­cept car to some of its fea­tures, like the hide­away door han­dles and ul­tra-slim LED head­lights.

The Velar’s sleek and dra­matic shape doesn’t just look slip­pery; its 0.32 drag co­ef­fi­cient is lower than any­thing else ever to wear a Range Rover badge. Few SUVs are so aero­dy­namic.

If the ex­te­rior is eye­catch­ing, the Velar’s cabin is star­tling. It’s nearly kno­b­less and very, very min­i­mal­is­tic.

Two 10-inch touch­screens, one in the cen­tre of the in­stru­ment panel and the other in the con­sole, cre­ate what Range Rover calls its Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment.

This lat­est gen­er­a­tion also pro­vides the means to con­trol many of the Range Rover’s mi­nor func­tions and the up­per­most of the two can be tilted by the driver to the op­ti­mum view­ing an­gle.

There are switches, too, but not the type you’re used to us­ing. The ca­pac­i­tive tech used by Range Rover means they work the same way as a smart­phone screen’s but­tons.

But prac­ti­cal­ity hasn’t been en­tirely for­got­ten. The sec­ond row of its five-seat in­te­rior fea­tures a 40-20-40 split back­rest, beyond which is a roomy 558L cargo area.

The Velar is all-new as a Range Rover but there’s much un­der­neath its im­pres­sive skin that’s been seen be­fore. It shares its ba­sic body struc­ture with the Jaguar F-Pace launched last year. Both brands are part of Jaguar Land Rover, which is owned by In­dia’s Tata Group.

As with the F-Pace, the Velar will be man­u­fac­tured in JLR’s main Soli­hull fac­tory in the English Mid­lands. And like­wise us­ing mainly alu­minium. Ac­cord­ing to Range Rover en­gi­neers, 81 per cent of Velar’s body is made from this eas­ily re­cy­cled metal. Com­pared to the F-Pace, the Velar is longer and a lit­tle nar­rower over­all.

Velar’s ar­ray of half a dozen petrol and diesel V6s will be mostly drawn from JLR’s ex­ist­ing en­gine line-up but it also in­tro­duces some­thing new.

It’s a high-per­for­mance ver­sion of the com­pany’s 2.0-litre four-cylin­der turbo diesel, a mem­ber of the rel­a­tively new In­ge­nium fam­ily.

Fit­ting a sec­ond turbo boosts power from the 132kW of the sin­gle-turbo diesel to 177kW. The new en­gine also de­liv­ers a hefty dose of low-end torque; 500Nm from just 1500rpm. Range Rover claims a quite nippy 0-100km/h time (7.3 sec­onds) for this ver­sion.

Velar will also be among the first ve­hi­cles equipped with JLR’s brand new In­ge­nium petrol en­gine. There will be two ver­sions of this tur­bocharged 2.0-litre four. The first, pro­duc­ing 184kW, will be avail­able from launch. The sec­ond, punch­ing out 221kW, will ar­rive some time in 2018.

The power from the feisty, high-per­for­mance In­ge­nium four equals the Velar’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel. Most pow­er­ful of all will be the 280kW su­per­charged petrol V6.

All en­gines are paired with a fine eight-speed au­to­matic from Ger­man trans­mis­sion spe­cial­ist ZF.

The Velar will be equipped with Range Rover’s lat­est and most ad­vanced off-road tech but the com­pany says on-road han­dling was an equally high pri­or­ity dur­ing devel­op­ment. Cop­ing with those show­room floors shouldn’t be a prob­lem …

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