Press Report : Range Rover’s MINI rival

Sam Hardy, Auto Express, 8th November, 2010

Autoexpress rendering of Range Rover’s MINI rival

It’s Land Rover’s best-kept secret. Auto Express has learned the firm plans to continue the trend set by the stylish new Evoque and scale down the Range Rover brand further with a smaller, sportier crossover – our exclusive images show how the groundbreaking new model could look.

The “mini-Evoque” will feature a shorter wheelbase, meaning less space for rear passengers but ensuring the car is even more nimble and practical around town. Lower suspension, a more steeply raked roofline and shorter overhangs give the baby the appearance of a jacked-up hatch. However, with a price of less than £25,000, it aims to tempt affluent young buyers away from the default choice of 
top-spec VW Golfs and Audi A3s.

Auto Express spoke exclusively to Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern and asked him how far he thought the Range Rover brand could be stretched. “Well, you haven’t seen the bookends yet!” he said. “There is now the ability with both Range Rover and Land Rover to respond to a changing market, so what I’d say is watch this space.”

The Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Evoque compete in the £30,000 to £85,000 bracket, so there is scope for the brand to move in both directions. The trendy new model would fight for market share with the likes of the rumoured BMW X4 and Countryman-based MINI Canyon plus quirky products such as the BMW X1 and Nissan Juke.

In reality, though, Range Rover is hoping to carve out an all-new niche with its most adventurous model ever. Clearly inspired by the avantgarde styling of the Evoque, the new baby will be distinguished by its Rolls-Royce-style, slot-like headlights and contrasting bodywork and roof. A high-rising waistline and flared wheelarches give an imposing stance for such a compact car.

Auto Express spoke exclusively to Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern and asked him how far he thought the Range Rover brand could be stretched. “Well, you haven’t seen the bookends yet!” he said. “There is now the ability with both Range Rover and Land Rover to respond to a changing market, so what I’d say is watch this space.”

As it’s smaller and more road-biased than anything the firm has produced in the past, the baby risks alienating traditional Land Rover fans but McGovern doesn’t see pushing brands in new directions as a bad thing. “This allows us to offer a level of separation in terms of the product offering,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity to take Land Rover back to its roots in a modern way. On the left, the versatile, but softer SUV market and to the right the hardcore, utilitarian market.”

As with the Evoque, the new model will be offered with a choice of front-wheel drive – for maximum efficiency – or a more rugged four-wheel-drive set-up. A four-cylinder diesel fitted with stop-start will have the lowest emissions in the range; it should put out less than 120g/km.

At the other end of the range will be a 2.0-litre petrol turbo with around 250bhp but, whatever the engine, the compact size, light weight and low centre of gravity should make this the most dynamic Range Rover ever.

If ever there was proof that Land Rover is looking to the future, this is it. It’s digging up its utilitarian roots, but leaving solid foundations.

[Source: Auto Express]

Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

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