I was walking down the street the other day when I was struck (not physically) with the enormous presence of a brand new Land Rover Velar. It is the first one I have seen in person, and my is it something to behold. The lines are sharp and hard, yet soft on the eyes, and sits in stark contrast on a crowded street. After stopping to take in the angles of this beast, I joined back in with the rest of the rushed crowd anxious to catch the train, but not start the day. As I continued down a few more streets towards my subway I found myself doing a double take with another car, but it is not what you might think. It was a Kia Soul. Nothing amazing about that, but I could not help but notice, it looks like the Velar. I know, how dare I offend an elegant British SUV by comparing it to a Korean econo-box, but just hear me out.
The Velar, which Land Rover calls, “The Avant-Garde Range Rover”, sits between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport in both price and size. It takes the styling cues from the Evoque with a similarly short and steeply raked roof-line, but also features the Evoque’s botox face, as the front of the car, starting with the headlights, is carefully nipped and tucked, stretching back behind the ears of the rear taillights. However, it is more mature, and harks to the luxurious nature of the “daddy” Range. Yes, the Velar is like a fresh college graduate, refined and ready to take on the world, while the Evoque is a freshmen still trying to get themselves together, and figure out their place in the world. Amazingly, based on the Velar’s looks, one would think it is a $100,000 car, but they would be wrong. The base model starts at just under $50,000. Only $8,000 more than the base Evoque and nearly half the price of your most basic “daddy” Range. What does that extra $8k get you? A whole 19 additional cubic feet of space for back seat passengers, 14 extra cubic feet for luggage, and 4 more inches of max wading depth (if you really care for that). This all makes it fairly good value for your money as well.
Now, how does this all relate to the Kia Soul? Well, the Soul when it first came out in 2009 was Kia’s very own “avant-garde” design. It was their attempt to break out from the drab Kia mold, and stand out as a unique and hip alternative to your common economy hatches, like the Honda Fit. Now it was by no means good looking, but it still did stand out the same way the Velar does on a crowded street (again, not necessarily for the right reasons). It has since grown into itself, and has proved successful in propelling Kia’s 📷image and design. I have seen a quite a few around now, but it was not until I saw the two cars back-to-back that I saw something more (it helped that they were the same color too). The Kia has a wide and flat front grill that sits flush with the body of the car, similar to the Velar, both in this case with a stark gloss black finish. The Kia’s roof-line is also steeply raked, short, and angled like the Velar’s for a slightly sportier look. Finally, the rear taillights tie together, albeit in a more vertical manner, to divide the rear hatch in half. The Kia looks as if a young child was asked to draw the Velar by memory, but only remembered its simple square shape, and a few other details.
The looks are not where the similarities stop though. The Kia, like the base Velar, has a 4-cylinder engine, and comes standard with cloth seats*. At $16,000, the Kia is also good value for your money. The Kia even has some advantages, coming standard with a manual transmission, something you cannot get in the Land Rover, and better fuel economy with a combined MPG of 27 versus the Velar’s 23. In the end this may all mean nothing, but if you are the exact type of person who likes the look of the Velar, but cannot afford one, then my advice is get a Kia Soul. It is the closest thing you are going to get. If you are a Velar owner, well, kids might think you drive a Kia. That is just my opinion.
*The base Velar offers premium textiles of wool blend and suede cloth as an alternative for leather.