motoring / 23/10/2017

Launch Drive: Range Rover Velar

Land Rover South Africa has a brand new model in its lineup, the Range Rover Velar. The mid-size luxury SUV slots between the Range Rover Evoque and Sport, with pricing starting at R947 700.

At the media event in the Western Cape, Land Rover confidently said the new model is for a ‘new type of customer‘, and competes with ‘what people need in their life’; i.e. they don’t see any other vehicle on the market as a competitor. The Velar is meant to mark the next-generation of Range Rover vehicles, and one thing is for sure, I haven’t seen the tech inside this car anywhere else. Specifically, the new InControl Touch Duo.

I like what the Velar looks like, it looks mean but not overly masculine. There’s also just something the Land Rover brand that exudes pure class. Because Land Rover took an artistic approach with the Velar, it was the central theme around the launch event, which took place at the Dylan Lewis Studio in Stellenbosch. It featured a sculpture garden with some really stunning artwork, just a little reminder of what the Velar is about; and I guess, who it should appeal to. Globally, Land Rover had the Velar featured in museums in the UK; fashion runways in Italy; and a Parisian skyline feature.

The new Velar is made from lightweight aluminium that is signature Jaguar Land Rover, with a 673-litre boot. Interior seat material makes use of sustainable textiles, an alternate to leather. With the combination of options available to customers, approximately 98 000 variants are available if you play around on the online tool to create your own signature Velar. It is capable of going through 650mm of water, basically it can swim! It has technologies like Terrain Response 2 and All Terrain Progress Control for various conditions and road types, similar to what I experienced on the new Discovery in July: http://www.nafisa.co.za/launch-all-new-discovery/

The Velar is available in six variants in either petrol and diesel. The two diesels come in 132kW and 177kW variants; and two petrols at 184kW and 221kW, with the latter capable of 0-100km/h in 6 seconds. The V6 diesel finishes the high-end range, along with a 280kW V6 supercharged petrol that is capable of reaching 100km/h in 5.7 seconds. Additionally, the Velar and Velar R-Dynamic range comes in Standard, S, SE and HSE specifications.

I drove petrol and diesel variants, starting off with supercharged V6 petrol, which kinda set the bar for me. I loved the power in it, and by the time I got to the diesel, I felt it lacking something; especially overtaking trucks. Yes, I do realise how spoilt I sound, ha! Make no mistake, both are capable; it’s just that I drove my (apparent) favourite one first, lol. It was a comfortable drive, we drove on and off roads, none of which felt unpleasant. The vehicle is capable of any type of condition. I always point this out but the drinks holder wasn’t as deep, and the driver’s side one was just a square, so we put my drink in the passenger side with grips while I was driving.

Going back to the InControl Touch Duo, it is the centrepiece of the Velar, and it lets you control everything with a touch of a button. It essentially replaces the old fashioned dials and buttons to control various parts of the car. This is definitely the future of car design – everything will be replaced with touchscreens; you don’t even need to be a field relating to motoring to see this is where the trends are shifting towards, like a natural progression in design. Pictured below is the 10″ InControl Touch Pro infotainment system on the top, and the new 10″ InControl Touch Duo beneath it (screens are measured on the diagonal): 

InControl Touch Duo incorporates minimalism, which I love; I found it easier to control while I was driving, while keeping my eye on the road. For example, it took a few taps to get my seats to the massage mode while I was driving. If you look at the above pic, you will see the “seats” top on the bottom screen, towards the top right. A bit of luxury while driving through the Western Cape. I kept the massage function on for the duration of my drive. 

As if the car didn’t have enough screens, the digital dashboard for drivers is another 12.3″ screen that allows custom views, which is another favourite of mine. You can choose from various layouts to suit your current mood; two-dial view with information or single dial view with maps etc.  I opted for a full map view most of the time, so the main InControl Touch Pro could be used for music or other settings. As for the functions on the steering wheel, I love the little round button on the left, that was touch controlled, to change the volume etc. Certain functions on the wheel could be programmed to your liking.

Going back to the infotainment system, it features InControl Touch Pro, something I got to first try on the F-Pace. It pairs with your smartphone and you can do the basics. The car has a mini PC on it, with superfast USB 3.0 slots, HDMI, on-board storage (for music), and my favourite – a SIM card slot to turn it into a WiFi hotspot. Land Rover equipped the Velar with SIM cards of course, and in no time we were connected (I say we but I mean I – basically the first thing I checked!).

The car would seat 4 adults comfortably, and not large families. If you want something for a bigger family, you’re better off getting the new 7 seater Discovery. The Velar also comes with headphones in the back, and a Meridian sound system. The infotainment system lets you control the centre point of the audio, so if there are two people in the car, you can move it to the front of the vehicle. The navigation is just like any other in-car infotainment system; it will always feel ‘dated’ when compared to Google Maps. When we drove back to Cape Town airport, the maps wasn’t smart enough to re-calculate our route when we took a shortcut. Anyway, hardly an issue when you are looking at what the car is capable of, and well, Google Maps.

Pricing for the Velar starts at R947 700, but you probably don’t want anything basic, and it’s all about extras. If you something luxurious, you are probably looking at R1.2m (I estimate, based on what we drove at the launch). Check the Land Rover website for more info.



Nafisa Akabor
Always online... except when I'm offline.




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