The Range Rover Velar may be the most beautiful car of 2018… but the Volvo XC60 is the best

Richard Aucock
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Land Rover Hosts U.S. Debut Of Range Rover Velar With Pop Music Superstar Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding and the Range Rover Velar (Source: Getty)

At the recent New York Auto Show, the World Car Awards 2018 were presented. The planet’s largest automotive awards, prize-winners included the BMW M5 for performance car, Audi A8 for luxury car, Nissan Leaf for green car and Volkswagen Polo for urban car.

Two cars were in the running for two awards, though: the Range Rover Velar and Volvo XC60. Along with the Mazda CX-5, they made an all-SUV final for the overall World Car of the Year 2018 award. They also vied with the Lexus LC 500 for the pretty car prize – World Car Design of the Year.

It was to no-one’s surprise that the Velar came out top in the design award. Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern has overseen something very special here, an automotive example of ‘reductionism’ – a theme coming to all future Range Rovers. Expect the future new Evoque to be influenced by this car.

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Dr Ralf Speth was there to accept the prize. Last year, he’d done just the same for the Jaguar F-Pace, so it was with a sense of déjà vu that he held the weighty World Car Awards trophy aloft.

Secretly, he was also crossing his fingers.

He was therefore secretly disappointed when, unlike the F-Pace last year, the Range Rover Velar failed at the final hurdle. A Jaguar Land Rover double in the World Car Awards' most prestigious prize was not to be.

It lost out on the World Car of the Year 2018 prize to the Volvo XC60, continuing a remarkable run for Volvo; just a few weeks earlier, the XC40 had been named European Car of the Year. In late February, it was back to the XC60, which was named UK Car of the Year.

As a World Car Awards judge myself, this pleased me greatly. The right car won. Unlike the F-Pace, the Velar is too expensive to be a genuine world car. Meanwhile, the Mazda CX-5 is a cracking car, but arguably not enough of a visual step on over the car it replaced: casual shoppers may not realise it’s new, meaning kerbside clout is lacking.

The XC60, however, does it all. It’s roomy, stylish, nice to ride in, good to drive, quick enough, smooth enough, dynamic enough and green enough. It’s yet another Volvo that vies with the class best. For many, it is the class best; even the fact that pricier ones are, like the Velar, very costly, the ones people will actually buy are much better value.

Volvo is on a brilliant run at the moment. And looking at future products in the pipeline, it shows no sign of ending soon. This latest prize shows just how world-class its efforts are proving.

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