Land Rover chief designer Gerry McGovern has had an exceptional career in design, having started with Chrysler U.K. and worked with Austin Rover when it was part of British Leyland, the last gasp, bound-for-failure conglomerate that consolidated the British motor industry before it was sold off piecemeal to French, American, German, and Indian owners. He had a big part in the last MG sports car, the MG MGF, then did a (retrospectively indifferent) stint at Lincoln at the time Ford was busily and expensively accreting small-scale manufacturers it didn’t know what to do with. But his return to the U.K. to concentrate on Land Rover has been brilliant.
At this year’s Geneva show, where the Range Rover Velar was introduced, we had only 30 seconds to give McGovern a thumbs-up gesture and a good word. To glean a little more, we talked by telephone while he was at the New York auto show in April.
Automobile Magazine: Gerry, what’s your favorite aspect of the Velar?
GM: I have to say it’s the long wheelbase that gives us really ideal proportions. It lets the car be smooth and clean architecturally. And, of course, details like the flush door handles
add a lot.
AM: Do pedestrian-safety regulations impose a particular problem for you at Land Rover?
GM: Well, we always have to find a solution that works for the rules and for us, but we always do resolve it. As you know, a low front makes it easier, a higher one adds difficulties, but we’ve managed.
AM: We think the arched trim piece under the tail piece that carries the exhaust outlets is particularly effective. It’s unusual.
GM: We were determined to reduce the mass at the rear, in a different way from the Evoque — more luxurious but still sporty. This allows us to simplify the rear aspect nicely. We do want our cars not to be overly complicated, the “less is more” idea actually.
AM: The interior is certainly quite plain. Is that part of the same philosophy?
GM: It is. We make good use of materials on simple forms to achieve a high level of understated luxury with nothing overdone, so it is not ostentatious in any way. We have a range of colors and different ways to present the interior to suit customer desires.