The World Car Awards were officially launched 14 years ago. This year, a jury of 82 automotive journalists from 24 countries determined the winners of a variety of prizes. Those included the titles of World Luxury Car, World Performance Car, and World Car of the Year. They gave only one vehicle the World Car Design of the Year award for its inner and outer beauty, making the official announcement at the 2018 New York International Auto Show. Was it the swoopy Lexus LC 500 sports coupe or a wildly styled exotic supercar? No. It was an SUV: the Range Rover Velar.
It’s an impressive achievement, but it’s not one that’s new to Jaguar Land Rover. The Jaguar F-TYPE and Range Rover Evoque won the World Car Design of the Year award in years past. The Jaguar F-PACE, which has a lot of the same DNA as the Velar, took home the prize in 2017. Now the Velar repeats history.
I was lucky enough to drive the Velar on- and off-road during its North American media launch in Palm Springs, California and for a week around Austin, Texas. Every glimpse I got of the Velar during my stints with it make it hard to argue with the WCA jury’s ruling. JLR’s newest winner features a sleek, streamlined design with winglike LED headlights, door handles that retract into the body to make the Velar more aerodynamic, and a slick and futuristic two-screen Touch Pro Duo infotainment system.
Given that the Velar is a part of the Range Rover family, it makes sense that it has a lot of styling cues that are reminiscent of the line’s patriarch. However, the Velar is not a motorized Mini Me. As visually similar as it is to the full-size Range Rover, it manages to also look unique. It’s more dramatic and concept-like than the flagship RR, an artisan bullet next to the sculpted ingot.
Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern said, “The continued evolution of our design philosophy is driven by a relentless focus on creating highly desirable vehicles our customers will love for life. The Range Rover Velar brings a new dimension of modernity to the Range Rover family with an abundance of innovative technologies, all making this vehicle a joy to drive and be driven in.” I’ll add that the Velar’s especially fun to drive over sand and rocks because, like all Range Rovers, it looks even better covered in grit.