Seeking to inject a dose of modernity and minimalism into the iconic English brand, Land Rover unveiled a new mid-size SUV, the 2018 Range Rover Velar, in London today.
The Velar will be the fourth model in the Range Rover brand’s lineup, slotted between the compact Evoque and mid-size Sport SUVs. It goes on sale this summer, starting just under $50,000.
Built on the same platform as its Jaguar brand’s first-ever SUV, the bestselling F-Pace, the Velar makes significant use of light-weight aluminum and boasts enough cargo space for several suitcases, as well as an emphasize on a sparse design aesthetic it calls reductionism.
Land Rover will be the first to admit that the market doesn’t need yet another SUV, but it hopes that details such as the Velar’s sleek door handles that recede into the door and Scandinavian-designed textiles will attract new customers. “People don’t need any of that stuff,” said Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern. “The difference is they desire them.”
Executives expect the Velar to pull customers who would otherwise consider the Porsche Macan, the BMW X4 or X6, or the Mercedes GLS or GLE luxury crossovers and large SUVs. Land Rover also expects some Evoque customers to step up to the larger vehicle.
“The power of Land Rover is its ability to disregard what people ‘need’ in lieu of what people want,” said Kelley Blue Book Executive Editor Karl Brauer. “The midsize SUV category is the hottest segment going, both in the U.S. and globally.”
“By launching the Velar, Land Rover has tapped into the market’s desire for a (relatively) affordable, upscale and sporty utility vehicle,” said Brauer, noting that Porsche targeted the same demographic with the launch of the Macan, the smaller counterpart to the Cayenne SUV, which helped the brand achieve record sales in 2016. Land Rover’s sales rose 24% in 2016 with help from the F-Pace, which launched midyear and comprised 10% of the company’s annual sales.
The Velar will be available in three powertrains: a 180-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine; a 247-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; and a 380-horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V6. All engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. A First Edition model that will be limited to 500 units in the U.S. gets a 380-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6, starting at $89,300.
The SUV will debut the automaker’s new InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, which comes with a pair of 10-inch, high-definition touch screens. It’s equipped with a panoramic sunroof and a ski hatch to load long items, like skis.
The Velar, which derives its name from the original prototypes developed by the brand in 1969, will be displayed at the London Design Museum until March 6, as part of a new, three-year partnership to showcase Land Rover’s emphasis on design.
“I think that the Velar will reinforce that design is a really important aspect for Range Rover,” McGovern said. “It’s not just about off-road capability. In the marketplace, people want more than that.”