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-wheel-drive 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, according to Massimo Frascella. Land Rover’s Italian-born 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 price-tag but will come without standard satnav.
The most expensive will be $135,400, but for the first 12 months 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 other SUVs are so aerodynamic (although the drag factor of most modern cars is much lower).
If the exterior is eye-catching, 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 compartment.
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 multinational 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.
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.