By Trevor Lamenya
Land Rover has revived it’s old ‘Velar’ nameplate to enhance Range Rover’s ever-expanding portfolio. The word ‘Velar’ is derived from the Latin lingua meaning ‘to hide’, basically used by Land Rover in the late sixties when they developed the first Range Rover in utter secrecy. Fast Foward to 2017 and this stunning mid-size SUV fills a tiny gap in its luxury-label lineup between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport. It shares a platform with its sporty sibling the, the F-Pace but distinguishes itself by offering elegance, sophistication, on-road performance, and ride quality like a proper Range Rover.
Visually the floating roofline, clamshell bonnet and rounded corners illustrates its Range Rover pedigree. Subtle waist line culminates in a tidy rear featuring nearly vertical cut lines from the roof to the bumper.
The LED headlamps are reportedly the smallest units fitted to a Land Rover product yet, and their sleek design teams with flush door handles to help the Velar earn a coefficient of drag of just 0.32, making it the most aerodynamically efficient Land Rover yet.
Step inside and the first thing you notice is Range Rover’s new “reductionism,” interior design language, that will also make its way to the 2018 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Reductionism is meant to offer an uncluttered environment. The “Hidden until lit” controls— illuminate when the vehicle is switched on, adding to the calming effect of the interior.
The centre of attraction in the Velar’s cabin is the introduction of the brand’s Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. A long overdue technology upgrade, the setup features two 10-inch high-definition touchscreens promising improved functionality, shorter reaction times, and (fingers crossed) fewer glitches. The split screen concept literally controls the vehicle’s crucial functions, with the tilt top screen housing the climate control, navigation, communication system and a banging 23 speaker Meridian Audio system that will blow your mind away. The lower screen allows the driver control the various Terrain Response settings graphically plus the seat massage system.
Land Rover will offer a choice of three engine derivatives starting with 177Kw/500Nm turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel inline-four from the Ingenium engine family and a twin turbo diesel churning 221Kw/700Nm from the 3.0-liter V-6.
For the petrol heads the lively 3.0-litre Supercharged V6 petrol produces 280Kw/450 Nm of raw gusto. Power delivery is sent to all four paws courtesy of a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive is standard across the range.
Land Rover is claiming a 5.7-second zero-to-100-km/h run for the Velar when equipped with the V-6 gasoline engine. Top speed is electronically limited to a dizzy 250 km/h.
Ride and handling
On the highway the Velar wafts in relative comfort, absorbing all road imperfections with ease. The Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels are impressive due to extensive use of sound suppressing materials all over the cabin, providing an extremely relaxing atmosphere for the passengers.
Dive the Velar aggressively in Sport and Dynamic mode and it transforms from Aladdin’s magic carpet in to a desirable sports car. In Dynamic mode, the onboard computers immediately adjust the throttle for sharper response, steering inputs beef up, gearshifts are lightning quick and the suspension is lowered to enhance vehicle stability.
Velar spots a double wishbone suspensionin front and a multilink setup in the rear. Four-cylinder models employ steel coil springs, while six-cylinder Velars get air springs and offer an electronically controlled locking rear differential as an option kit.
If you attempt to go to the wilder side of life, the Velar’s Terrain Response 2 system, incorporates Low-Traction Launch, hill-descent control, and All Terrain Progress Control transforms you to an off-roading expert. All you need to do is to select the 4×4 automatic mode and the Terrain Response 2 adjusts the ride height and traction required by assessing the terrain using sophisticated sensors and cameras, enabling you to conquer any terrain with ease.
The entry of Velar in the Kenya will create a stir in the luxury mid-size SUV segment, dominated with the likes of the BMW X4, Porsche Macan and Mercedes GLC. Land Rover’s 5 year/150,000 KM warranty honored across Sub-Sahara Africa plus a 5 year/100,000 KM service plan will definitely make the Velar a tempting choice for the discerning SUV buyer. Visit local dealer RMA Motors for more information.