The new Range Rover Velar could be a significant step toward the British SUV brand building luxury passenger cars for the first time.
That’s the possibility aired by Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, the man ultimately responsible for shaping the most road-oriented vehicle to ever come from the now Indian-owned SUV company.
The existence of the five-door, five-seat Velar SUV coupe was confirmed today, with full details set to be revealed on March 1 ahead of a motor show reveal the following week in Geneva.
The Velar shares its core IQ architecture with the Jaguar F-PACE crossover and eschews the hard-core off-roading capability of fellow Land Rover models such as the Range Rover and Discovery.
The fourth model in the Range Rover line-up, it sits between the entry-level Evoque and Range Rover Sport.
“If you look at other [passenger] brands they have come into the SUV territory and why couldn’t Land Rover-Range Rover go into that [passenger] territory,” McGovern said.
“The thing about Range Rover as a brand is it has massive equity. It has equity comparable to certain fashion brands … I’d argue Range Rover as a brand is peerless, there is nothing else like it.
“We have proven with things like the Evoque and we will prove with the Velar we have the ability to stretch and give much greater resonance in the marketplace.
“So I think there are lots of opportunities. But we still have to keep people guessing — otherwise we give the game away.”
Speaking to Australian media at the global launch of the new Land Rover Discovery in Utah, McGovern was clearly enthused by what his design team has achieved with the Velar.
It has been generically described as an SUV coupe, a much-maligned form of automotive design, intended to take on the likes of the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and Porsche Macan.
But McGovern rejected any pigeon-holing of his new vehicle.
“It is not a coupe,” he insisted.
“What I would say about the Velar is it is a new type of Range Rover for a new type of customer and I think it will really change the perceptions of what the brand is about.
“And it has been done in a very unique way. There might be things that are comparable in terms of its overall size, but there is nothing like it in terms of what it is.
“This will blow the spots off the lot. Wait till you see it, I am telling you, wait till you see it,” he added
“People can criticise the hell out of me, but I am telling you the brand is on fire and what will be the proof in the pudding is the way these vehicles sell.
“And when you see Velar – because some people have seen it and have been quite surprised by it — I think … it really is a master class in a modern less-is-more approach.”
McGovern also made it clear Velar would retain Land Rover’s commitment to off-road capability, even if it is shaping as the most road-oriented Range Rover yet.
“Every Land Rover we do has to be incredible, has to be the best in terms of its ability and it (Velar) will be,” McGovern promised.
Ahead of any possible expansion into passenger cars, McGovern made it clear there was expansion of the Discovery and Range Rover families to be catered for as well as the return of the Defender as a family of vehicles.
“If you look at where we currently are and where we could be in six or seven years’ time, it is a massive shift,” he said.
McGovern hinted that another future direction was an SUV smaller than the Evoque.
“You think about small cars,” he said. “You think about how small can you go with an SUV and do it creditably.”