British off-road icon Land Rover looks set to add a new Road Rover division to its portfolio with a greater emphasis on road-going dynamics, according to reports out of the UK.
A report in British publication Autocar claims the new division will slot into Jaguar Land Rover’s existing line-up to leave Jaguar as a performance oriented brand, and to ensure that the current Land Rover and Range Rover reputation for rugged off-roadability isn’t diminished.
Driven by the ongoing SUV boom, the first Road Rover model is tipped to be closer in concept to a crossover vehicle rather than a fully-fledged SUV and will be positioned as a high-end model aimed at vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Audi A8 in terms of size and positioning.
The first Road Rover model is also expected to be powered by electric motors, with a ride and handling setup that will concentrate on dynamic on-road capabilities, although a small degree of all-surface ability is expected to be included as a means of providing the new crossover with added versatility.
To help amortise costs, the first Road Rover model will be developed alongside the next-generation Jaguar XJ sedan, to help fend off the sales slide of traditional three-box sedans. Both will feature aluminium-intensive construction, with the ability to accommodate either electric or internal combustion powertrains.
To prevent sales cannibalisation from the new model, the current flagship Range Rover line could potentially morph into an even more upscale offering in answer to ultra-luxe SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga, and the coming Rolls-Royce ‘high sided vehicle’ being developed under the Project Cullinan title.
As with the recently introduced Range Rover Velar, the Road Rover name holds a place in the brands history, having been previously applied to prototype vehicles in the 1950s and 1960s.
The 21st century interpretation will form part of a wider electric vehicle model push from JLR, lining up alongside the smaller Jaguar I-Pace electric crossover, and is seen as a crucial move move in China where EV sales are expected to boom despite a slowing overall vehicle market.
The initial Road Rover model is tipped to appear in 2019, with additional crossover models expected to be added to the range over time as JLR looks to continue its global sales growth.
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