There are times when automotive design crosses the line from mere mechanics to art.
The attention to body shape, interior details, overall fit and finish, and the clear expression of thought put into where and how the ‘human interface’ will work, mould into a driver experience that goes well beyond being a mere trip in the SUV to the supermarket.
The Range Rover Velar transports drivers into that fine area where automotive engineering is a near spiritual experience – where drivers can enjoy the highs of the very best of automotive form and function, where senses come alive and anyone at the wheel wonders just how far they dare push it.
This is no longer a mere driving experience; it becomes something else entirely, as it becomes a sensory overload of luxurious driving ecstasy.
The Velar is a beautifully-cultivated piece of form and function that invites close inspection and the immediate impression gained from that first touch is that this deserves some time. Let’s not rush things.
Sitting in the leather modern cockpit of this ride is going to be a luxurious introduction to modern automotive art. Add in the new in-screen design to the exhilaration of the power under the bonnet from its twin turbo V6 diesel and drivers are about to feel the power of modern automotive art.
Sit back, appreciate what’s on show and let’s drive.
Rain glaze and road shine
Review day dawned raining.
For any other day and any other ride, this might have been a testing day. On this day, the rain made the sleek lines of the Velar look even sexier and with the rain pouring down, the spectacular sight of the Velar driving down Tauranga’s Route K toll road left a lasting impression.
Photos of the car in motion confirm the truly outstanding body shape. The rear three quarter view shows off the curvaceous back, while the sleek front and side lines make for a sporting SUV feel.
The Range Rover Velar deserves that level of attention. She is an automotive seductress with beautiful lines that, on the road, capture the attention unlike most other large SUVs that otherwise appear boxy and boring.
Not the Range Rover Velar. Look and linger at the lines. They’re just beautiful to behold
The Velar was a perfect wet weather model and she shone through the grey day.
Looking on from a Bay Driver car following the Velar to the photo destination, the ride position of the Velar on Tauranga’s highways suggested this was an SUV that looks on the road like a seal looks in the sea – perfectly at home, finely balanced and totally in tune with its environment.
The Velar was swift, stable, nimble and with no suggestion of excess body roll or highway quirks that would undermine the ride.
All of this fine-auto appreciation has to take place alongside the consideration of basic road worthiness.
There is much to appreciate in how the Velar has been crafted for driver luxury while meeting all the legal requirements for New Zealand driver standards and safety.
One key performance feature is clear. The Velar is no slouch. This ride will plant drivers back in the seat with enough thrust to feel you’ve been body-slammed.
The Velar’s 3-litre V6 diesel engine coupled with the 8-speed automatic transmission provides enough power on tap to delight and provide drivers with enough torque and power to get out of tricky situations on today’s crowded highways.
The lightning-quick engine response, seamless shifting and hands-on torque made for a stunning display of how sporty modern SUVs can be in real-world driving.
One key aspect is the superb rotary dial control for all transmission selection duties; it remains a range Rover feature that to this driver is best in class. It’s simple, easy to use and perfectly positioned to maximise interior space.
Internal fit and finish
After following behind the Velar, it was my turn at the wheel for the drive back to Mount Maunganui. Like any other first impression, a handshake between the designers and the driver occurs from the first time in the driver’s seat.
The leather interior feels like a luxury suite of lounge furniture, with easy-to-manage controls for seat adjustment and clear sight lines to the screen that shows all the necessary driver accessory information, from mobile phone connections to rear view cameras.
It is true luxury and stands out as one of the finest interiors in the SUV class.
The HSE Velar includes 21-inch wheels, Windsor leather, satin trim elements and a wide range of driver-assistance technologies, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.
There can be no luxury if some of it doesn’t rub off on the driver. The Velar has a curious way of making the driver feel deserving; of being in the presence of art inside and out. This Range Rover Velar gets the blood racing and that’s before the engine has even started.
This is a driver’s SUV. It is also an artistic statement of how far design form and function can be pushed for the benefit of both the aesthetics of the ride and also the form and function. It is simply a joy to drive.
Range Rover can be justifiably proud that what they have brought to the SUV market is both an artistic statement and an exciting automotive one.
Range Rover Velar
4 doors, 5 passengers
Engine: 3L V6 turbo
Power: 221kw and 700Nm torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic (with manual shifting mode)
Price: $134,900 to $157,850