Opinion : It might be over for Rover, but we can dream…

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve opined that a return of Rover could be made to work if it were managed well, and the longship was attached to the right product. The funny thing is that, while I’ve not thought about it for a long time (especially since the marque effectively died in 2005 with the closure of MGR), it’s clear that someone’s been busy imagining Rover’s return.

Russian industrial designer Igor Krasnov has rendered these images of how we could imagine a saloon extension of the Range Rover brand working. Okay, it’s a long way from the small entry-level product to wear a Viking longship that many of us have dreamed about over the years (don’t believe me, type ‘AROnline Rover’s return‘ into Google to see what I mean), you have to say that his re-imagining of a saloon version of the Range Rover (without a hint of it being called a ‘Rover’ or a ‘Road Rover’) has something about it.

You can see more of Igor’s renderings of this design on his Instagram page, but I’ve pulled out these ones in particular because they show the Range Rover saloon the most clearly. The car comes across as a rather imposing rival to cars such as the Audi A8, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with its long wheelbase and overhangs and very traditional three-box shape. You could argue that the Jaguar XJ sat in that market sector successfully, but now as it’s about to become a fully-fledged EV big brother to the Jaguar I-Pace, and rival to the Tesla Model S could this be the thing we need to ferry about our ministers in?

Aside from the rather heavy-handed treatment of its roof around the rear three-quarters, this design works rather well. And, although I’m not sure Igor is that conversant with Rover history, it’s interesting that what he’s produced looks quite reminiscent of the ill-fated Rover P8, with a little of the last and, sadly, short-lived Saab 9-5 thrown in for good measure, a sort of latter-day Rover P5B. It might lack the elegance of the Rover 75 or the modernity of the Range Rover Evoque (which in my book would make a great modern-day Rover hatchback if lowered and turned into a car), but it’s brutally impressive and looks just about the most ‘British’ design I’ve seen in a long time.

Of course, Jaguar Land Rover has already flatly denied that it’s going to oversee the return of Rover. I do have it on good authority that every so often the idea is taken off the shelf, dusted off and looked at again with a view to its viability. But the result is always the same – Jaguar is Jaguar and Land Rover is doing very well with its Defender, Discovery and Range Rover lines. Adding to that is simply not needed in a world that’s turning its back on saloons and hatchbacks.

And, although I might not like that, I can see why. However, Jaguar land Rover has far from ruled out an extension of the Land Rover gene pool into the world of non-SUVs via its Range Rover brand. We shall see. Meanwhile, I do like this one (yeah, I’m a traditionalist at heart and love a good saloon) and can see this being rather adept at being pushed into ministerial duties instead of a rather rakish Jaguar or boxy Range Rover SUV – yes, I do like to dream, and the thought of something genuinely new like this would be genuinely exciting.

What do you think?

Keith Adams
Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

51 Comments

  1. Also a fan of the Rover rendering to some extent, it gives some insight to what-if Rover instead adopted a more traditional and tidier Range Rover-esque variation of the Rover P8 prototype as being an alternate styling theme in place of the Rover SD1 (whose styling theme would have been better suited for MG) or the styling themes found on the Rover SD3 up to the Rover 75 (plus Rover 25 and Rover 45).

    The unexpected success of the Range Rover with Rover quickly capitalizing by carrying over styling aspects of the Range Rover to Rover’s own cars for the 1970s and beyond (albeit further refined) would have probably been a more sensible and evolutionary approach, reminiscent of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Michelotti’s work with Triumph up to the Triumph Puma proposal.

  2. Not bad. Certainly looks imposing, but almost to the point of being sinister. For me the iconic classic Rover would have to be the ‘Cyclops’ Rover 75 my grandparents’ neighbours had when I was a child. I was fascinated by that car and spent ages just staring at it. I reckon a reimagined, stretched, widened and slightly lower Cyclops would stand apart from the general run of execmobiles. Up to the engineers to make it worth buying!

  3. Looks far too similar to a Chrysler C300 and only works for passengers with dark sunglasses and violin cases.

  4. It’s unfortunate this example is shown in such dark colours. I suspect a lighter-coloured version would look much better.

  5. I think it’s definitely over for Rover. But perhaps this image shows how JLR could split Land Rover and Range Rover into fully separate marques. There are plenty of precedents for this, not least Land Rover itself! I can imagine JLR making an absolute mint from a wider selection of cars with the Range Rover name – something chunkier, more brutal, more P8-ish, allowing Jaguar to go for something more distinctive and sleeker rather than aping the Germans. This new ‘Range Rover’ company would need its own badge, rather than using the Land Rover oval…maybe a stylised monochrome Viking longship wouldn’t look too out of place on the nose of such a beast…?

  6. It’s striking, but too thuggish to appeal to most customers. I’ve never liked the P8 for similar reasons

    And anyway the limp sales of the XE, XF and XJ aren’t exactly a great encouragement for JLR to produce another 4 door saloon!

  7. JLR can’t get Jaguar right so I wouldn’t want them to try and have a crack at Rover.

    Also, any attempt at a new Rover ought to follow the SD1 template in my view. Imagine a low, sleek modern shape based around that design on an electric platform with a similar interior design done in a modern context with great materials? Hmmm…

    • But my god, they do get Range Rover right – and make shed loads of money from it. That’s the point. I’d like Jaguar to give up chasing the German Big 3 template and go after Porsche or Tesla. In the meantime, Land Rover can do its thing, and Range Rover can develop a range of saloons as well as its traditional SUVs. I can imagine Range Rover going toe to toe with Mercedes quite easily.

  8. To me the way back for Rover brand cannot be a big competitor, the XJ is so much better heritage in UK let alone the “non Empire” markets that have no genuine Rover knowledge, or only know of it in its SD1 onwards years. I believe the way back would have to be a product that would naturally sit alongside the Land and Range product offers, in the current dealer network.

    I thus see the potential of using the Rover brand as the product to choose if you want a Land or Range product, but want something that suggests more environmental consciousness.

    I would propose then the following.

    A Volvo V90 sized station wagon, the basic structure of which would be common between two variants.

    Variant 1: A family estate aimed at the family market, styling thus aligned with the Land Rover Discovery, so the Rancho / CX Family like raised rear roof line and big tailgate. Interior should be family friendly.

    Variant 2. A premium estate aimed at the active executive who needs grace and pace but also something to move and or tow their toys (ie Sailplane, Yacht). Styling aligned with the more “blingy” Range products with a sleek roof line, split tailgate and interior embellished with lashings of leather, carbon, wood etc.

    Premium Compact MPV

    Using a FWD only (To allow a better packaging) derivative of the Evoke / Discover Sport platform aimed at the BMW 2 Series Active / Grand Tourer.

  9. As far as the styling of this car is concerned, I agree with others about the rear of this image. It is weirdly Saab 9-5 like. The rear should be more upright rather than sloping outwards in the way it does now.

  10. Although I don’t like it, I have to say that those who think rover name would not work in the states are wrong. Range rovers are called rovers by Americans.

  11. I rather like it – better than a load of other prototype proposals we have seen. This guy has some talent. OK it’s a bit too long (maybe more vertical front and rear glass might help the proportions) but it could sell in China where they like LWB saloons. Missing a chrome rear number plate surround though….

    Tempting a good kicking but did Rover die or just change its name to Roewe;
    https://www.roewe.com.cn/

  12. There is no Rover DNA in the styling of this rendering. I don’t mean retro as in the 75. This is just the brutalist styling cues of JLR’s SUVs applied to a saloon shape. Guess those who laud the RR range will love it, I don”t. To these eyes it’s a Russian gangster’s car. As i type this, it occurs to me that it reminds me of nothing more than the Green Hornet’s car from the 1960’s TV show. The black colour scheme has a lot to do with it, but even so…

  13. I have to agree with Stanhill’s comments about the styling of this car – its brutal looking like some awful Grand Design built for people with no taste. Timeless looking and stylish, as a Rover should be, it isn’t.

    I also have little faith that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) would be the right custodian to bring the Rover brand back anyway, let alone undo the rollercoaster ride the brand endured in terms of ever changing vision and values since the mid 1980s. In the end, the constant ‘reinventing of the wheel’ for Rover’s vision and values under various custodians were completely lost and no-one really understood what the brand stood for when time was called on it in 2005. I doubt JLR could provide the brand with any better long term vision, stability or commitment.

    Make no mistake, JLR have been very successful in developing the Range Rover brand into a family of four models, but their efforts with the Discovery 5 confirm they don’t yet have a distinctive, standalone vision for the Land Rover brand beyond it being too closely aligned with Range Rover in terms of packaging and styling (except the Defender). For me, it is more crucial they take a long, hard honest look at why the Discovery 5 isn’t selling in reasonable numbers and really understand why it was previously so well liked, than regularly “dust off” and reconsider the prospect of doing something with the Rover brand.

  14. Waistline too high, windows all wrong, wheels too large, and the overall effect is that of a brutal tonka toy designed by a 9 year old . Perhaps Ivan IS a 9 year old……

  15. It is a bit heavy but has a certain presence and I think the dark photography is distorting the final image, as others have indicated. For me it does have one enormous plus point – it doesn’t look like an Audi or BMW – it is not bland. It is not just touching up a 30 year old design and getting the world to think it’s wonderful.

    • Agreed. Needs further refining though as with the Rover P8, a common Range Rover-esque look paired with a brutalist / masculine take on a traditional Rover in a more Bentley Mulsanne/Turbo/Brooklands/Arnage mould has the potential to definitely give it some serious presence.

      It has the necessary ingredients in terms of exterior to be its own thing within the context of a Range Rover family styling theme instead of being a rehash of an old sportscar-inspired design that arguably did not really belong anywhere near a Rover saloon (with the possible exception of the Rover P9).

  16. I saw the image first and immediately thought “Russian” and “Oliagarch”, therefore not surprised to see it had been “imagined” (NOT designed) with a judicious amount of cut-n-paste by a guy called Igor!

    If truth be said, I actually like a lot of this. Brutish, in-yer-face, anti snowflake generation. Cars are still a statement and not a white goods commodity, they still have personality that reflects the owners ambitions and intent. The penis-extension is not dead (yet!), I’ve seen a few Teslas in the flesh recently and just view them as amorphous blobs with a (declining) USP but ZERO soul.

    If I was TATA I would seriously consider punting something like this out in China and Russia………..

    • Problem with the anti snowflake argument is that the snowflakes are now approaching 30 so in the 5 years needed the get anything designed and into production and then the 10 to 15 years model design life they are going to be the buyers not me (or prob you) so its got to be designed with them in mind. Hence the profile and price of Teslas with their masses of tablet and iphone type tech. And TBH its that that attracts them not a trad Rover. And thats from the owner of a 754, well Zt.

  17. “However, Jaguar land Rover has far from ruled out an extension of the Land Rover gene pool into the world of non-SUVs via its Range Rover brand”

    Oh, for god’s sake – has Land Rover not cheapened the might of the words “Range Rover” enough by sticking it onto things like the Velar and, especially, the Evoque? Why do they want to ruin it even further?

    Still, I suppose this is the world in which you can buy an “AMG” Mercedes or an “M-Sport” BMW with a four cylinder diesel engine and absolutely no sporting pretensions at all, so what do I know?

    • Adam, This is the world of Keith, employee of Bauer media (German, the “best or nothing” type operation), He has found a Russian CAR rendition, of a GERMAN registered car, that MIGHT have been made by an INDIAN owned company, perhaps in the CZECH republic, IF things had panned out differently, who knows…

      You mention the Velar, that’s the car that Bauer media are being paid to plug heavily on Kiss FM in the UK, as being loads better with (quote) black 21″ alloys, black paint, black leather, black (“privacy”) glass, and is available at “special price”. It’s made, somewhere, by JLR, with bits that are in short supply from CHINA. It loses 60% of it’s value in a year or so, but Keith will tell you that on a PCP it’s a wonderful affordable thing.

      Meanwhile, he won’t mention the MG ZS electric car that’s selling well, and actually just about affordable to REAL people, because he has fallen out with MG.

    • ….and yes, of course you can buy some German wallet emptying POS, from the brands mentioned. You might even qualify for some “undocumented features”, that cost you a load more. You are correct, you know nothing.

  18. They’re struggling to shift Jaguars, never mind resussitating Rover.

    More likely there’ll be a fourth Land Rover nameplate for any proper cars they bring out.
    Thinking caps on…. something beginning with “D” ?

  19. I like it, apart from the silly wheels. When I first saw the picture I thought “P5” or Chrysler 300. The styling is modern, albeit brutal and it has plenty of visual impact. Remember that every time Rover historically introduced a new car it was derided by many traditionalists. The proportions mean that if built it would be a very large car, about Jag XJ or BMW 7 series in size so too big for the UK market and unlikely to sell enough to make money.

  20. Just had a look at his Instagram pictures – I hadn’t realised his duotone colour ideas, eg floating roof, and especially that the rear window is actually body colour – now that hasn’t been done before! Also appreciate his cheeky use of SVR badging. The other vehicles he has done also deserve merit – this is practical yet modern design and IMO he deserves a job with a multinational car manufacturer if he hasn’t already got one.

  21. The inspiration behind the Chrysler 300C of the mid-early ‘noughties’ was the Rover P5. Go Figure. At the same time, the inspiration for the Rover 600 was the P4. Who’d have thought.

    • The 300 inspired by the P5? Don’t see it myself. Always thought the latter day iteration of the 300 was supposed to be inspired by it’s renowned predecessors, the “alphabet” 300s of the 50s and 60s.

  22. The last thing JLR needs is another brand – especially one trying to flog big saloons. However, it does occur to me that Jaguars style seems to be universally disliked by those with the wherewithal to buy them whilst punters cant get enough of Landrovers style – perhaps some elements of the rendered image should transfer to future Jaguars?

    • Jaguar’s problem with the saloons was with not being “Jaguar” enough and a bit too “samey-likey”. Poor old Jaguar, traditionalists (and Ford) wanted to keep the XJ style going but the struggle was to evolve it in the way Porsche did with the 911. BMW and Mercedes managed to evolve gracefully for at least 30 years but both have fallen by the the wayside recently especially with the recent crop of SUVs. R|over, on the other hand, always seemed to reinvent themselves, think Land Rover to Range Rover, P5/6 to SD1. Maybe the time is right for the reintroduction of a radical, brutalist Rover that appeals to oligarchs and Chinese billionaires, these markets are probably big enough in their own right to justify the investment and supplant/compliment Jaguar. Not so long back Daimler held sway in the colonies as a mode of transport for Heads of State and despots before the Mercedes S-Class took that crown, TATA should take a punt on taking that market back….

  23. Sadly the styling of this leaves me cold. Bring Rover back for sure but in a way befitting the values of the great Rovers, not some “right in your face” brute.

    • @Eamonn – name some Rover values? “Poor Mans Bentley”? “Avant Garde”? “Cutting Edge”?
      All three would be appropriately applied to various models, name me a company that produced vehicles so radically different from each other at the same time. I’m thinking SD1 and Defender, P5B and Rover 2000. Let’s not forget the Rover-BRM turbine!

      • @KeithB, I’d say innovative, classy, elegant, understated (as in not like contemporary brassy Fords and Vauxhalls), quality, great performance and handling.

        • It’s funny what a pair of rose tinted glasses can do……how about hopeless build quality, shocking paint, poor sales, joke brand in export markets…..sorry, but it’s the truth.

          • @Kev, perhaps you overlooked these words in my original post “befitting the values of the great Rovers,” However, I can speak with real ownership experience of more recent Rovers, i.e. a 620Si and 214SLi. These cars were in no way like the words you use above. No rose tinted glasses here!

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