Notes from a joyride

Dhiram Shah | Updated on May 28, 2018

The new Land Rover Velar looks and acts like the concept car of your dreams

Land Rover’s association with the word ‘Velar’ goes back to 1969. It was 48 years ago that the Range Rover, the premium segment of Land Rover was first introduced, and the early prototypes preceding the launch of the first Range Rover in 1970 were badged Velar. Fast forward to 2018 and the Velar is the fourth member of the Range Rover family that sits in the hot mid-size segment between the full-size models (the eponymous Range Rover and Sport) and the compact Evoque.

The Velar is elegantly designed, resembling a concept car, something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Its sleek bodylines, long wheelbase, sloping roofline along with the sharp daytime running lights are a potent combination that makes heads turn. Did I mention that even the door handles are flush with the car? Walk towards the car and they will automatically protrude. The lack of visual interruptions and an aggressive low stance also make it the most aerodynamically efficient Range Rover ever produced.

Turn it up

Making its debut with the Velar is ‘Touch Pro Duo’, Range Rover’s new infotainment system. A first-of-its-kind in the industry, the system uses two crisp 10-inch displays. The top screen functions as a traditional touchscreen and handles the media, navigation, and connectivity. It can be tilted up to 30 degrees forward and back for viewing comfort. The bottom touchscreen is slightly larger and lets you control the climate and the terrain management system. Then there is a third screen — a sharp 12.3-inch digital gauge display behind the steering wheel that allows the driver to view and control most of the information and settings without looking away. Though new, the system is extremely intuitive and eliminates virtually all the buttons and switches from the cabin. If Tony Stark were to ever design a car infotainment system it would be like this one. Speaking of Stark, the cabin is as luxurious as you would expect of a modern Range Rover’s interiors — there is a generous use of fine leather, the seats are very comfortable, plenty of room and a 23-speaker Meridian audio system.

Under the hood of our Velar was the new 2.0l Ingenium petrol engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It churned out 250 hp and could take the 1.9 ton all-wheel drive SUV from a standstill to 100 kmph in a claimed 6.7 seconds. As refined as the engine is, it is equally responsive. There is virtually no vibration making its way into the well-insulated cabin. In rush hour Mumbai traffic, I realised that the Velar is far larger than it seems, zipping in and out of tight spaces — quick overtaking to parking in narrow spots, I could do it all without breaking into a sweat. All along, the ride was very smooth as the 19-inch tyres and the independent suspension swallowed every irregularity that the city’s infamous roads threw at it. On the highway, I switched to Dynamic mode which programmes the throttle response, steering feel, and gear shift timings for —‘performance’. All of a sudden, I had an angrier Velar to ride through long turns, hairpin bends, serpentine uphill roads and I could not be happier. For the off-beaten track, Velar’s terrain response system takes over. There are settings for every type of topography which change the driving dynamics to take on obstacles and challenging terrain with utmost ease.

The Velar is surely a bit steeply priced as compared to its German peers, but it more than makes up for it with its striking good looks, innovative technology, and a refined ride. It opens a new chapter for the brand, one that reinvigorates genuine Range Rover capability with refinement and technology.

Dhiram Shah is the Mumbai-based founder of

Published on May 23, 2018

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