Land Rover Velar's stylish NZ debut
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This week's arrival of a fourth line in the Range Rover family surely sets a record for turnaround time between northern hemisphere launch and product arrival in the New Zealand market.
The new Range Rover Velar -- which expands the green badge model range with a new choice between the compact Evoque and seven-seat Range Rover Sport -- only made its UK and Europe sales debut in mid-July. The first shipment of 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol and turbocharged diesel Velars is already in New Zealand showrooms.
The Velar takes a similar on-road focus to the smaller Evoque. Under the skin the vehicle platform and alloy-intensive lightweight architecture is shared with the Jaguar F-Pace, as are Velar's powertrain choices.
Styling is likely to be the main talking point when Velar is encountered for the first time. It has a very strong road presence with a wide and low stance, distinctive 3D-effect slimline LED lighting signatures front and rear, along with a high waistline and narrow glasshouse.
Flush fit, pop-out door handles are an eye-catching detail while multiple wheel design choices and an array of optional exterior enhancements build further on the Velar's visual appeal.
The Velar is pitched primarily as a sports SUV alternative to the likes of Porsche Macan or Maserati Levante but still retaining most of the offroad prowess that is a given with the Range Rover brand.
At launch the model range comprises S, SE and HSE grades with the two higher levels available in either standard trim or a sports themed R-Dynamic package that includes more aggressive bumper styling and fog lamps.
Engine choices for the New Zealand market are the top-of-the-range V6 power units. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder versions available in other markets are still under consideration.
The 3.0-litre twin turbo diesel model is badged D300 and develops 221kW at 4000rpm with peak torque of 700Nm at 1500rpm.
The 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol wears P380 designation and develops 250kW at 6500rpm with 450Nm of torque at 3500rpm. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on both models and combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 6.4L/100km for the D300 and 9.4L/100km for P380 versions.
Much of the big Range Rover offroad capability is retained, with adjustable height electronic air suspension and offroad driving modes being standard equipment but the Velar doesn't have a low ratio transmission and its braked towing capacity tops out at 2500kg. With air suspension, the Velar has a 650mm wading depth and there's 213mm of ground clearance at standard ride height and 251mm in the raised setting for offroad work.
At highway speeds the Velar lowers itself by 10mm to improve the aerodynamic performance and there is a 40mm lower access height that leaves it parked at kerbside with an aggressively low stance.
The media launch drive programme allowed the Velar to showcase its plush ride, progressive body control, secure grip and relaxed performance on the highways, with the big torque of the D300 providing the greatest driving appeal.
The drive included a short offroad session in the Woodhill Forest and with the suspension in high-ride setting -- using standard road tyres and pressures -- the sandy tracks and muddy sections presented no challenge to the Velar's traction and ground clearance.
The most impressive part of the forest drive was how comfortable the Velar was while it picked its way across the lumpy terrain.
In terms of size, the Velar measures up at 4803mm in length and has a 2874mm wheelbase. It has a five-seat configuration that includes a raised centre position in the rear that effectively makes the Velar a four-seater. There is 673 litres of load space that expands to 1731 litres with the rear seat folded.
The starting point for Velar pricing is $134,900 in S specification with identical pricing for petrol and diesel models. At SE level the standard Velar is $141,900 and the R-Dynamic variant is $146,850.
Key elements of the Velar's standard specification include 19-inch alloy wheels, a powered gesture responsive tailgate, Navigation Pro, 10-way power adjustable front seats, perforated grained leather trim, LED headlights and daytime running lights. There's an 11-speaker/380-watt Meridian audio system along with a rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors and blind spot monitoring.
Inside, the Velar breaks new ground for the Range Rover marque with a new "hidden-till-lit" twin 10-inch touchscreen display and connectivity system called Touch Pro Duo. It controls navigation, climate, seat heating, media and drive-mode selection with two multi-function dials and configurable display options while minimising buttons and switches.
My initial impressions are limited to the impressive high-definition display of the reversing camera and navigation images but there's some time required to get familiar with the deeper workings of the system.
The step to the SE specification introduces a 360-degree camera and reverse traffic detection, a 17-speaker/825-watt audio system, Matrix LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, configurable interior mood lighting and the analogue instrument layout in the S model is replaced by a 12.3-inch TFT virtual instrument display.
The flagship HSE grade starts at $152,900 with the HSE R-Dynamic model at $157,850. The Velar HSE rides on 21-inch alloy wheels and gains 20-way powered front seats with massage function and ventilation in perforated Windsor leather trim.
It also gains the Drive Pro Pack with adaptive cruise control and queue assist, high speed emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot assist and driver fatigue warning.
There is the usual exhaustive list of options for the Velar -- examples including a black contrast roof ($1100), premium metallic exterior colours ($1500), wheel options up to 22-inch diameter, four-zone climate control ($1650) head-up display ($2200) and a rear seat entertainment system ($3800).
There's also a newly developed Matrix-Laser LED headlight option which is a $5400 upgrade on the S model and $3350 on SE and HSE models.
Jaguar Land Rover New Zealand is looking for Velar to achieve an annual sales volume of about 150 units. Provided the Velar doesn't steal significant sales from either Evoque and Range Rover Sport, it will account for about 10 per cent of combined Land Rover and Range Rover sales in New Zealand.