70,000 KMIs in the first six weeks is a pretty strong indication.
When Land Rover built the Evoque, a space was inadvertently created between the slick new SUV and the Range Rover Sport. The carmaker soon found that shoppers were coming into dealerships wanting something with a bit more space than the Evoque. But the jump to the Range Rover Sport was just too big for most people to manage. It wasn't long before the British carmaker realized it had to build a fourth Range Rover, and with that the Velar was born.
We sat down in Shanghai with the man that lead the Velar's design, JLR's Creative Director, Massimo Frascella, to discuss the new car. "The Velar has been the smoothest project I've ever worked on. From the start of the project, the vision was very clear. Every department – exterior, interior, powertrain, etc. – was aware it was working on something very special and everyone has been pulling in the same direction since the car's inception. The Velar shares a similar footprint with the Range Rover but is as tall as the Evoque. If you look at other SUVs on the market, it's very hard to find a competitor."
The Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace and Alfa Romeo Stelvio are arguably its closest rivals, but none of these offer the same space and comfort as the Velar. And from a design perspective, the Velar is in a league of its own. Of the entire Range Rover lineup, the Velar is also the most road-orientated," claims Frascella. Remember the Velar has an optional air suspension and aluminum-intensive body structure. Yet Land Rover's Terrain Response 2, Hill Descent Control and All Terrain Progress Control also make the Velar a very capable off-roader. An absolute necessity with every Range Rover.
"80 percent of Evoque buyers were first time RR buyers and the same will happen with the Velar. Since it was unveiled in Geneva around 6 weeks ago, there have been 70,000 KMIs (Keep Me Informed). That's a record for us. People are seeing pictures of the Velar and they want one. It is a true object of desire and from the initial interest, the Velar has every chance of being our best-selling model ever." Derived from Latin, the name Velar means 'veil,' and was a name Land Rover used on Range Rover prototypes from the late 1960s to indicate they were hiding something new. As well as providing a nice connection to its heritage, the name Velar is also a beautiful sounding word and fits the car perfectly.
Distinctive design features on the Velar, such as the retracting door handles and gloss black interior that appears free of any buttons, was part of a reductionist approach Frascella and his team took with the new car."Reducing complexity without reducing functionality," as the Italian car designer puts it. Not only do the retracting door handles look great, they also help maintain a low drag coefficient of 0.32. And they'll work in extreme climates, popping out with an inch of ice on top of them without a problem. Time will tell if the Velar enjoys the success that's expected of it. But all signs point to it being another sales smash hit for the British marque.