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The New Range Rover Velar is Already in a Design Museum

Refined yet sinister, the latest member of the auto family makes its debut

by Josh Rubin
on 02 March 2017

Today Land Rover unveiled their all new vehicle, the Range Rover Velar, at the London Design Museum. While that sounds straightforward enough, it’s especially noteworthy that we’re talking about the global unveil of a new mid-sized luxury SUV—at a design museum, not a car show. Fittingly, it's a just-relocated, renovated museum in Kensington designed by British architect John Pawson under the patronage of Sir Terence Conran that celebrates superlative design across disciplines and from around the world. The brand’s design chief, Gerry McGovern, is responsible for creating a design culture within the organization. “We [the design team] completely changed the culture [of Land Rover] by being the leaders at the beginning—defining what the basic concept is, the fundamental volume and proportions and the actual character of the vehicles. Then we work with our engineers to deliver that vision. The result of that is compelling products that customers love,” he says. Putting Range Rovers on a museum pedestal isn’t new for the brand either; the original Range Rover was presented at the Louvre as an expression of exemplary industrial design. “This institution has championed design in the modern world. Being in such an inspirational space—as opposed to place—here at the Design Museum speaks volumes of the importance of design and engineering excellence in everything we do,” McGovern adds. And it’s the marriage of iconic design and exceptional capability that gets us excited about Range Rover again and again.

The Velar is stunning. At a macro level, its proportions are a lustful and sinister—a longer nose and lower height hold a strong, full-bodied machine. The form gently tapers to the rear; "Elegance derived from volumes pulling toward the back,” Exterior Design Creative Director, Massimo Frascella remarks. Superfluous lines have been removed and key ones—like the seam that runs all the way around the vehicle’s belt line—have been accentuated. A faster angled windshield meets the signature sloping roofline to create an upper profile that is more aggressive than the Range Rover Sport, but not so much as the Evoque. This seems fitting as that’s exactly where Land Rover is positioning the Velar—between these two models. And the retractable door-handles afford clean, uninterrupted side surfaces fitting to the vehicle’s overarching design philosophy of “Reductionism.” The Velar is clearly an SUV, not a car, however if you squint and look at its profile, what you see might look a lot like a wagon.

Visual clutter is also reduced inside the vehicle where the strong horizontal belt-line of the exterior is referenced in the full-width, unbroken beam dashboard—an almost architectural element. The cluster of buttons and dials in the center stack is replaced by two 10” touch-screens that gently curve to follow the interior forms. Those screens house a new "InControl Touch Pro Duo" infotainment system that promises to be faster and more intuitive compared with their previous generations. There are just two dials besides the volume knob and they function in context with the utility on screen, like climate or terrain response. Beyond the standard leather seats, there’s a new high-end wool-blend textile option (developed in collaboration with Kvadrat) and a new signature cut-diamond pattern that also creates subtle Union Jacks. The rear seat has ample legroom and the boot has plenty of storage, making it a welcomed upgrade for Evoque owners who need a little more space. (Check out the slideshow above for examples of the infotainment screens, interior designs and more details.)

The name Velar is derived from the Latin "to veil or cover" and was the code name for the original Range Rover prototype vehicles that Land Rover built in the late 1960s. Velar also happens to be a partial anagram of Land Rover and the story goes that the prototype vehicles were badged as such because they were the letters that happened to be available in excess. "When Range Rover came out it was a revolutionary statement. We wanted to pay homage to the original Range Rover with this new vehicle,” McGovern shares.

The new Range Rover Velar will be featured until 6 March 2017 in an exhibition at the Design Museum called “Reductionism.” It ships this summer and across global models is offered with three engine types, four trim levels and an exclusive “First Edition” which translates to 12 configurations ranging from $49,900 to $89,300.

Images courtesy of Land Rover

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