A few weeks back, we had the chance to go behind the scenes at Land Rover's sprawling design studio in idyllic Gaydon, about two hours outside London. Range Rover's show car for Geneva was waiting for us, and all hints and predictions led us to believe that it was going to be BMW X6-style derivative of the Range Rover Sport. Color us disenchanted.

We entered the gates of Gaydon, which is a massive facility, and headed for the design preview room with more than a hint of a blasé attitude. But then chief creative officer Gerry McGovern entered the room and dazzled us.

Meet the Range Rover Velar. Its name harkens back to the original Range Rover concept, which was tested openly, free of disguise, in the world's harshest conditions. That means it wore the "Velar" badge ironically, since the name was from the Latin for "to veil." This Range Rover, however, borrows little from the original 1970 model other than that name.



There is something of an existential question about this new Range Rover. Why build the Velar at all? According to McGovern, who presided over the design and execution of the Velar, there was a "white space" opportunity between the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport in terms of size and price. Rather than go the lines-blurring SUV coupe route, McGovern's team led by Massimo Frascella decided to capitalize on the brand equity of the Evoque. Before you dismiss the Evoque as hardly a Land Rover, remember that the poky crossover has been very, very good to the company-selling in the hundreds of thousands over the last six years. By McGovern's reckoning, the Range Rover sub-brand was able to "expand as a consequence of our success."

The Velar started life using similar underpinnings to the Jaguar F-Pace, but don't think of it as Land Rover's F-Pace. Perceptive eyes will notice that the Velar's wheelbase is nearly identical to that of the Jaguar's, but that's about all the two SUVs share in terms of design. They'll use many of the same engines, including the 180-hp turbodiesel and 380-hp turbocharged V6, and all-wheel drive will be standard. A 247-hp four-cylinder Ingenium gas-powered engine will also be available at launch, with a 300-hp variant arriving later. No word on SVO/SVR variants, but time will tell.



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