Calif. ó Back in the 1950s, many Americans were wondering how long
nuclear fallout would affect the United States should the Soviet
Union decide to lob a nuclear bomb at us. Instead, they should have
been wondering about the half-life of midcentury modern design,
which was first popularized 60 years ago, and is as popular as ever.
Itís an apt question in this city known for its midcentury
architecture, not to mention interiors that enshrine those who have
become the immortals of midcentury modern interior design: Jacobsen,
Saarinen, Eames, Miller, and Knoll.
But for Gerry
McGovern, chief design officer for Land Rover, the cityís
modernism is timeless. "It has longevity, these places in Palm
Springs prove that," he said of its housing stock. "They
look as modern today as they did when they were created 50 years
sensibility can be found in McGovernís transformative designs for
Range Rover, the luxury SUV line sold by Land Rover. "When I
went to Land Rover, cars looked like the way they did because of
what they did. That isnít relevant anymore."
apparent from the first glance of the all-new 2018 Range Rover
Velar, McGovernís finest demonstration of modernist car design.
"By modernism, what I mean is quite simply reduction. Itís
about paring everything back."
a wasted line on this SUV, with sumptuous surfaces that soften its
stout stance. Its perfect size and style fits between the Evoque and
Range Rover Sport and like them, its projects an aura of wealth and
sophistication. Built using the same aluminum-intensive platform and
construction as the Jaguar F-Pace, the Velar shares its siblingís
welcoming ways. Approach a Velar, the mirrors unfold as the flush
door handles pop out invitingly, even through 4 mm of ice. The
vehicle even lowers, to make access easier.
prepares you for what awaits inside, where McGovernís minimalistic
vision proves that simplicity is the ultimate luxury.
Gone is the
chaos created by a surfeit of controls. Instead, sleek piano black
glass surfaces lie alongside aluminum accents and sumptuous leather.
The center stack is comprised of two 10-inch capacitive touchscreens,
which the company calls InControl Touch Pro Duo. The top screen
controls navigation, audio and other infotainment duties, while the
bottom screen houses climate controls and the Land Roverís Terrain
Response system for when road conditions deteriorate. Enhancing the
cabinís optional 12.3-inch instrument cluster that can be
configured four ways. A five-inch cluster is standard.
For the first
time, Range Rover is offering a non-leather option to its standard
leather interiors. Itís made by Kvadrat, a Danish company that has
produced fabrics for Knoll, Herman Miller and other midcentury
moderns for many years.
think the whole world of textile design is moving on, and weíre
going to see some fundamental changes in this area and we want to
get ahead of the game," said McGovern. "Itís going to
And while the
Velarís stylish wardrobe and technology may seduce you, its
capability will go beyond anything most drivers will throw at it.
include a 247-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a
380-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V6, or a 180-horsepower
2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel. An eight-speed
automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard.
provides the sort of power youíd expect of a Range Rover, with the
transmission providing quick, unobtrusive shifts, even in manual
mode. Thankfully, the transmission holds each gear rather than
downshifting for better fuel economy. The tested V6 had the optional
air suspension, which provides up to 9.9 inches of ground clearance
and 25.4 inches of water-fording capability. As you might expect,
the comfort drive mode suits the Velar, with its magic carpet ride
and modest side-to-side motions, although itís far from excessive.
Choosing dynamic mode instead adjusts everything for on-road fun,
with quicker steering and a firmer ride with noticeable jiggling.
four-cylinder engines had a coil suspension, which feels less plush
and assured on pockmarked, crowned roads. Yet once it sets in a
corner, this setup proves as stable as the air suspension. The turbo
four feels potent, yet turbo lag is evident when driven with
enthusiasm. The diesel seems more even-tempered, with a smooth,
quiet, yet powerful demeanor and little if any noise or vibration.
off-road proves the Velar to be as capable and refined as any Range
Rover, although its steering lacked any sense of feel. Its
impeccable off-road comfort keeps passengers protected from the
shock of rocky trails as torque vectoring and traction control
manage torque distribution to suit the terrain and conditions.
And it was
blessedly quiet, which made it perfect for listening to the
incredible Meridian sound system.
desirable design and up-to-date technology, the Range Rover Velar
proves that its beauty and sophistication doesnít make it any less
capable than other Land Rovers or Range Rovers. Best of all, the
Velarís base price starts just below that of a top-of-the-line
Evoque, making this an affordable modernist luxury, which is more
than I can say of a Noguchi coffee table.
And it looks
incredible in front of your midcentury modern home.
Supercharged 3.0-liter V6; turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
380; 247; 180
269; 317 pound-feet
economy (city/highway): 18/24 (V6); 21/27 (four-cylinder); 26/30
capacity: 34.4-70.1 cubic feet
capacity: 5,512 pounds (V6); 5,291 pounds (Four-cylinder)