Minimalism on Wheels


As luxury cars get fancier, you’d expect them to be shinier, flashier and resolutely over the top. But the design team at the Tata Sons-owned Jaguar Land Rover seems to think otherwise. It’s minimalism for the win, as seen on the newly minted Range Rover Velar that we got a first drive of recently. The manufacturer’s design team member, Arvinder Singh Powar, in conversation with me, uses the evocative term “reductive design”, which points towards a minimalist, understated approach to design as “today’s drivers are looking for less clutter within the cabin, which wraps you in a quiet, zen-like space.”


In terms of design, the Range Rover Velar is an exercise in design restraint and driving it through the leafy boulevards of Paris, juxtaposed with the facades of Haussmann’s buildings, is a treat. Let’s start with the exteriors. You have a redesigned front grille, Pixel LED lights, and fresh tail lights with clean lines. Fans of the Velar will, of course, rave about the unmistakable overhang, giving the SUV an overall refined but powerful road presence. But what I really need to highlight through the drive is the design-forward cabin. At first glance, there is resolutely less clutter, fewer buttons and an overall cleaner look to the centre and front consoles. The previous Velar’s shifter knob from the central console has been done away with, leaving a lot of more storage space.

I love how the centre console arches upwards so elegantly. My favourite feature, however, is the Pivi Pro 11.4-inch central touchscreen. Look closely, and you will notice that the screen features a discrete curved surface design that appears to float above the front console. This touchscreen packs in most of the car’s controls. The manufacturer claims that most tasks can be completed in two clicks or less – reductive again – which is largely true for most tasks that I attempt. Personally, I would prefer more hard keys on the consoles, which make certain actions quicker, as opposed to packing everything into the screen interface.

It is interesting to note that Amazon Alexa is built-in, making it easy to voice-activate general actions such as temperature control, music and calls. Barring a few accent misunderstandings, the Velar’s Alexa performed. The standard Meridian 3D surround sound speakers are expectedly outstanding. I particularly like changing between drive modes with a new swipe-up-down gesture, making it easier when in motion. From a luxury standpoint, there is an element of craftsmanship throughout the cabin in terms of the finishes, the upholstery and veneers throughout the space. Other perks of this cabin include a cabin air purification system, which is particularly relevant to the urban Indian context, heated and cooled seats, and 20-way massage front seats. From a lifestyle perspective, the Velar also claims to be among the quietest cabins in its segment, thanks to its advanced noise-cancelling technology.

I will give this one to the manufacturers as the drive experience, through the noisy Parisian traffic, was resolutely quieter, and I did feel ‘cocooned’ in the cabin. While I do try out the car on city streets and highways, testing out its 184 kW of power and 365 nM of torque (it performs when pushed), I also take it for a spot of off-roading through some vineyards outside the French capital, changing the drive modes, using hill descent control as well as All Terrain Progress Control (a feature in which the car essentially drives itself uphill and downhill, with my legs off the pedals and all I have to do is steer).

It is particularly impressive on tricky terrains requiring varying traction. The 360-degree camera system here is worth a mention, even projecting the underbelly terrain onto the screen, making offloading such a fun and interactive experience. The ELLE Verdict? For the Indian market, Jaguar Land Rover has announced the Velar in a 2.0 litre petrol and 2.0 litre Ingenium diesel engine at a starting price of INR 94.3 lakh. The Velar is an already popular product, which will find many takers in India. This understated, minimalist approach to cabin design will appeal to a niche segment of luxury consumers.

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