Concepts and Prototypes : Range Rover L322 (1995-2001)

Development on the new Range Rover started in 1995, and it went through several metamorphoses before management was completely happy with the direction it was going in.

Land Rover and BMW produced competing design proposals, and it was the British iteration of the concept that won through at the end of the day.


Range Rover L322: Reimagining an icon

Range Rover L322
Geoff Upex and Don Wyatt invited a variety of Designers to submit proposals for how they thought a new Range Rover should look. As well as the Land Rover Styling Department, BMW and DRA (Design Research Associates) were asked for ideas. This sketch by Phil Simmons not only drew on the original Range Rover as an inspiration, but also the Riva Speedboat (flanks, proportions).

Former Rover Director of Design, Geoff Upex, who moved to Land Rover in 2000, and Lead Designer Don Wyatt were responsible for how the new Range Rover should look.

Both men saw the directive from BMW, that they should start with a clean sheet of paper (instead of basing it on the P38A) as a positive advantage, and embarked on their task with some relish.

Range Rover L322
Two studies that were passed over in the search for the new Range Rover. On the left, the DRA proposal was daring and quite sporting, but not in-theme enough to be taken further. On the right, a radical frontal treatment for the Range Rover was drawn up… it would appear that elements of the flanks, especially around the rear wheelarches, did make it onto the production version
Range Rover L322
Phil Simmons’ concept in clay – a 30% model of the design sketch is depicted at the top of the page. This was easily the most popular of the 12 models that were submitted to management, and this can easily be identified as the first step in the process that led to the 2001 Range Rover

Range Rover L322
August 1997, and four full-size models were presented to management: the left two were produced by BMW, overseen by Chris Bangle. The two on the right are by Land Rover, and it is Simmons’ version (second from right) which attracted the most favourable comments from Wolfgang Reitzle. Unsurprisingly, the Simmons proposal is also favoured by the Land Rover Board, but the design is not signed off at this point, as Reitzle felt that the competition should remain open a little longer. One of the German designs remained in the running, alongside the British proposal – Reitzle did not feel at that point in time, that the British design was quite there yet
Range Rover L322
In the run-up to the final design competition, Land Rover worked with BMW and lightly revised Simmons’ design as depicted in this sketch
Range Rover L322
December 1997, and after a final viewing by Reitzle, it is this full-size model that is signed-off for production

These interior sketches are actually taken from the aborted Discovery replacement, but they clearly show where the origins of the Range Rover's interior lie.
These interior sketches are actually taken from the aborted Discovery replacement, but they clearly show where the origins of the Range Rover’s interior lie

Range Rover L322
Full-size mock-up of the Range Rover interior shows that the luxury was added to the architectural theme investigated in the original ‘Discovery’ sketches. The finished article was a triumph of design and, like Rolls-Royce’s designs, the Range Rover’s buttons were all operable by a gloved driver. Ford design boss, J Mays described the Range Rover interior as ‘the best I have ever seen.’

All pictures courtesy of Autocar and used are used with permission

Keith Adams
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7 Comments

    • Thank goodness Chris Bangle’s designs were passed over! He did enough damage during his time at BMW and to a lesser extent, with the R56 MINI. Fortunately, he seems to have disappeared into obscurity.

      The L322 was easily the best reinterpretation of the Classic (and I say that as the owner of an L405!). The only downside was the front and wasn’t quite right from the start and the subsequent facelifts only made it worse, quite a lot worse.

  1. Strange how this design has almost become a classic blending the angular and somehow still fresh style of the original with a modern look.

    I first saw a rendering in either What Car? or Autocar, and really hated it. I thought they had ruined the brand with this odd design which to me even had flashes of the then current model Mondeo in them.

    How wrong could I have been. This (apart from the original) has to be the best looking Range Rover so far. I looks like a Range Rover, looks and feels luxurious but also retaining a look that lets you know it can do a lot more than your average upmarket car.

    Perfectly proportions and unlike most cars, the facelifts actually improved what was a good design further.

    The P38A though it was a long time in gestation always lacked a sense of effortless quality and poise. I always thought the front and rear lights together with the grille were nicked from a 1979 Chrysler Horizon. It just did not seem worthy – in terms of looks – of carrying the badge. The L322 put that right.

    Having said that, I like the P38A, I just think round headlamps, and smaller tail lamps echoing the MKI would have been the way forward.

  2. The L322 was a brilliant piece of styling, that managed to move the RR on, while still looking like a RR.

    Off topic, but is there a list of Land Rover model codes since the separation from Rover, and what the gaps are, seeing that we’ve had
    RR – L322, L405, L460
    RR Sport – L320, L494, L461
    Discovery 5 – L462
    Evoque – L538, L551
    Freelander – L314, L359
    New Defender – L663
    Disco Sport – L550

    • L322 Range Rover was originally L30.

      Disco 2 was L25 and Freelander 1 L20. Defender must have had an Lxx code too but I can’t remember it…

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