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Range Rover Velar ‘coupe’ ruled out

My baby: Range Rover Velar designer Richard Wooley says a sloped-backed SUV in the BMW X4 mould is not the Range Rover way.

Three-door Range Rover Velar possible, but not coupe-style BMW X4 rival

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Land Rover logo10 Aug 2017

By DANIEL DeGASPERI

A FASTBACK BMW X4-style version of the Range Rover Velar has been ruled out, although a three-door body style could still be on the cards, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) studio director for design research Richard Woolley has revealed.

Speaking with Australian journalists at the national reveal of the Velar in Sydney this week, Mr Woolley – who designed the new five-door SUV – explained that the company deliberately avoided a sweeping coupe-style roofline for the latest Range Rover because the brand has the “confidence” not to follow every trend.

“We have a strong sense of our own identity, and a strong sense of our own direction in what is right for the brand and what our customers are going to want from that brand,” he said.

“It’s about the strength of your own conviction in many ways. That starts very early on in working collaboratively across the business to get what we think is going to be the right answer.

“The Range Rover DNA had to be kept intact on the car, so I don’t think we’d ever consider a (BMW) X6-type profile for the car (Velar). The Range Rover profile is something that’s iconic and we need to protect that.”

While the X6 has been internationally recognised as a success for BMW, and has been followed with the Velar-rivalling X4, Mercedes-Benz has likewise followed with its GLE and GLC Coupes in the large and medium SUV classes respectively.

Asked if customers could dictate SUV style to Land Rover, Mr Woolley replied: “I guess we’ve always got to be cognizant of what our customers want and like, but the brand has got a confidence about it that says ‘this is what we think Land Rover is all about’, and there seems to be enough customers out there who get that.”“I guess if we were trying to get up to mass market volumes then maybe then there would be more incentive to do stuff that is almost dictated by customers,” he added.

The studio director for design research – who styled the 2012 Range Rover and currently also leads the design direction for the performance Special Operations Division (SVO) – suggested coupe-style profiles affected aerodynamics.

“(A coupe-SUV) can be a little bit more difficult to manage because the separation point can vary between the tail lip and the roof, and having that variation can lead to a little bit of instability in cross winds and the like,” he said.

“So controlling where the air trips the back of the car more consistently can give you a consistent aerodynamic performance in all sorts of conditions.

“This (Velar) is great from an aerodynamic point of view. It gives us better airflow over the rear of the car (than a coupe).”

The dimensions of the Velar sit between an Evoque and a Range Rover Sport, while Mr Woolley confirmed that Velar has only about 15 per cent commonality with the Jaguar F-Pace with which it shares its platform.

The Velar is also only slightly smaller than the original 1970s Range Rover, a vehicle offered in a three-door body style reborn for the compact Range Rover Evoque that remains on-sale overseas but not in Australia due to low volumes.

Although a Velar coupe has been ruled out, a three-door design remains a possibility. Mr Woolley said: “Quite possibly, maybe, there’s no plan to do that but it (Velar) is a very elegant car and maybe something could happen like that.”“I think the original concept for the Evoque we showed with two doors, and we were keen to maintain that idea into production,” he said.

Mr Wooley said that while the two-door Evoque was the design lead for the Evoque range, Range Rover sold fewer two-door vehicles than those with five doors.

“On the other hand, you could argue that it’s the most glamorous vehicle,” he said.

“Two doors always has a bit of glamour attached to it and that remains a part of that Evoque design vision. And of course it helped spawn the convertible version of the Evoque.”

The Range Rover Velar goes on-sale in Australia next month, with JLR Australia already holding 350 pre-orders for premium medium SUV. The first vehicle was flown in from the UK this week for a media and buyer preview in Sydney.

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