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 Leisure

The new Range Rover Velar

21st April, 2018

By ASWAN YAP

WHEN it comes to British cars, Malaysians don’t have many choices – a contrast from the 1960s when the market was dominated by cars from that country. Of course, many of the old brands are gone and the only active ones these days are Land Rover and Jaguar, with Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin at the top end.

Where Land Rover and Jaguar are concerned, they are now handled by a single company called Jaguar Land Rover Malaysia (JLRM) and there’s been a bigger push in recent years. The increased activity has also been due to both brands coming out with new models more frequently.

Where Land Rover is concerned, there have been a number of new models in recent times and the Range Rover sub-brand has just gained an additional model in the form of the new Velar. I wrote about this model a year ago when it made its world debut and now it’s here in Malaysia.

The unusual name can be found in Land Rover’s history, used as a codename for the original Range Rover project prototypes. This new Velar isn’t quite based on the Range Rover you are familiar with or even the smaller Range Rover Sport, but rather sits alone in its own segment within the line-up. With this model introduced, there are now 4 tiers ranging from the more lifestyle-oriented Evoque to the full-sized Range Rover.

What this also means is that there is less of a disconnection between the Range Rover Sport and the Evoque. For the longest time, it was hard to tie the Evoque to the Range Rover line-up as it was so far removed in terms of design and operation that it was hard to see it as anything more than a product that lived off the Range Rover prestige and branding.

After all, it sat on a modified platform shared with some Ford models (having been developed when Land Rover was in the Ford Group), and it was hardly a car for serious off-roading despite the numerous hallmark Land Rover technologies that it came equipped with.

The Velar sits between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport and is priced from RM529,800 (without insurance and roadtax). It comes in two variants, one being the sportier R-Dynamic, and I am told that there will also be a 3-litre variant imported later on.

At launch time this week, the Velar comes with a 4-cylinder petrol engine, the P250 from the Ingenium family that was developed by Jaguar Land Rover themselves. ‘P250’ designation refers to its performance and powertrain which is a turbocharged 2-litre unit that pushes out a healthy 250 ps and 365 Nm of torque from 1,200 rpm to 4,500 rpm.

Paired with an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, the Velar should be able to go to 100 km/h from a standstill in just 6.7 seconds. That’s quicker than the time a Volkswagen Golf GTI would take for the same sprint and impressive for a 1.8-tonne SUV.

The Velar could have been heavier but a great deal of aluminium is incorporated into the body structure which helps to keep the weight low. Land Rover has used aluminium for a long time but more for the bodywork. Now the engineers are also using the light material for structures and they can do so while maintaining rigidity and strength. Safety is a high priority for Land Rover and the Velar gets advanced driver assistance systems. Six airbags are included as standard, as well as a Heads-Up display, Navigation Pro System in the R-Dynamic version.

Inside, there’s the typical functionality of a Range Rover blended with high-tech features that customers would expect. For instance, the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system splits duties for display and entertainment between two high resolution touchscreens on the centre console.

On the outside, perhaps the most distinctive item is the Matrix LED headlights. Bright and bold, this system is alluring both during the day and the night, with a real premium feel combined with real world practicality. Besides this, the Velar gets twin chrome exhaust finishers, a foil-stamped grille, and eight exterior colours to choose from.

On the whole, the Velar looks as though it may be the new vehicle of choice for the ultra-elite who want a premium SUV that’s not a BMW or Mercedes-Benz. In my opinion, it’s a car that’s just the right size for just the right price.

   
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