Among the various hybrid methodologies, Speziale's very large eddy simulation (VLES) is one that was proposed very early. It is a unified simulation approach that can change seamlessly from Reynolds Averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) to direct numerical simulation (DNS) depending on the numerical resolution. The present study proposes a new improved variant of the original VLES model. The advantages are achieved in two ways: (i) RANS simulation can be recovered near the wall which is similar to the detached eddy simulation concept; (ii) a LES subgrid scale model can be reached by the introduction of a third length scale, that is, the integral turbulence length scale. Thus, the new model can provide a proper LES mode between the RANS and DNS limits. This new methodology is implemented in the standard k − ϵ model. Applications are conducted for the turbulent channel flow at Reynolds number of Reτ = 395, periodic hill flow at Re = 10,595, and turbulent flow past a square cylinder at Re = 22,000. In comparison with the available experimental data, DNS or LES, the new VLES model produces better predictions than the original VLES model. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the new method is quite efficient in resolving the large flow structures and can give satisfactory predictions on a coarse mesh. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.