By on September 26, 2017

1990 Land Rover Range Rover in Denver wrecking yard, grille badge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Maybe one day we’ll all look back and wonder how we could have been so wrong. “Of course,” we’ll say over drinks at the back of the pub, “it was all so simple. People wanted cars. Land Rover cars. And we were too stuck in our ways to see it.”

“Crossovers were king back then. Buyers couldn’t get enough of ’em,” we’ll recall, growing agitated over our past myopia. “Harley-Davidson could have put a pup tent on the back of a Tri Glide and sold 50,000 a year. Foolishly, we didn’t notice the simmering desire for a car — a regular car, dammit! — from an automaker that sold SUVs and nothing but since 1948.”

As Rod Serling used to say, this isn’t a future that will be, but one that might be. Yesterday we brought you a report detailing Land Rover’s plans to reveal a high-end luxury car, not an SUV, in 2019, all part of a plan to capitalize on decades of accumulated brand cachet and plunge into a wholly untapped segment. Road Rover is the vehicle’s rumored name, Autocar claims.

Suppose they’re right?

Debuting a traditional passenger car just as the world seems ready to ditch any and all vehicles with a trunk runs counter to sensible product planning. Grabbing a slice of the next big thing — that’s the kind of play that can pay big dividends. Lamborghini was a little early with its 1980s LM002, but it’s playing catch-up now.

Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Porsche, Maserati, Ferrari — all of the world’s top luxury brands have an SUV (or two) already in showrooms, or at least nearing production. To go after the declining share of luxury car sales seems like folly, yet Land Rover is clearly eager to expand its presence and its lineup. But a Mercedes S-Class fighter? Even an all-wheel-drive estate car carrying the green oval seems like a radical departure.

There’s plenty of skepticism over the Road Rover idea. Land Rover hasn’t officially confirmed the report, nor denied it. One Automotive News journalist expects any such car to appear with a Range Rover badge, never mind this Road Rover business. (Certainly, the name doesn’t smoothly roll off the tongue.)

Supposing the report is true, is Land Rover’s plan a smart one, or something destined to water down the brand? Is a Land Rover car something buyers truly want to take home? Sound off in the comments.

[Image: ©2017 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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34 Comments on “QOTD: Is the ‘Road Rover’ a Terrible Idea?...”

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I would be surprised if Tata allows this, since Jaguar already fills this need. At the end of the day, JLR needs to provide an ROI to the stockholders and I really can’t see the folks at the top green lighting a project into a segment that is clearly shrinking, and by a large margin, that already has top flight offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Exactly, they own Jaguar. Why compete with themselves?

      This news reminds me of the Top Gear expose of Peugeot. “We need to change, let’s now make really terrible cars”.

      • 0 avatar

        They wouldn’t compete- I don’t think they overlap markets at all!

        A Road Rover wouldn’t take ANY business from jaguar, and jaguar wouldn’t take any business from LandRover. They are way too different and uniquely positioned.

        I don’t know why people think it’ll take business from eachother?

        Who cross-shops Audi and Bentley? they are the same company but there is very little if any cross-shopping.

        Plus remember, Tata permitted the F-pace…

        • 0 avatar

          I guess the market for large luxurious Tata sedans dressed in English heritage badges is large enough to be segmented between a brand which has been building similar cars since the war and a brand which hasn’t successfully built a luxury sedan since the P5. Like Bentley Phaeton and Porsche Touareg drivers, they’ll wear their ignorance as a badge of honor.

          • 0 avatar

            Its described as being for China and California. It doesnt make sense to use the ‘Rover’ brand which sunk some time back. Its clearly going to be a Landrover brand, but likely based on large Jag essentials.
            It could well be a high rider , a bit like the BMW 5 Series GT, which is really a 7 series sedan lifted a bit and with a hatch back/fast back

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          In Canada Audis start in the low $30k range and except for the R8 top out around $140k.

          Bentleys start at $200k and top out around $360k.

          So where is the overlap?

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            The Audi Bentley overlap/cross shop analogy is bogus.
            Jaguar and RR/LR compete for the same customer at virtually the same starting $$ and top end $$.

            I am not sure Bentley currently makes a car that starts as low as an A8L peaks at, perhaps the R8.

            So 100% yes, they would be moving a buyer from a Jaguar sedan to a RR sedan.

  • avatar

    Luxury cars that aren’t German or Lexus ESs will be completely irrelevant by 2019. Any GCBC follower knows this- the segments have been in free-fall for years, with even all new stalwarts like the W213 E class unable to stem the tide. If, like 99% of the luxury market, you value practicality over dynamics, there is zero reason to get a sedan over a crossover.

    That said I’d be curious to see what they do.

  • avatar

    Rover, make a car? Wasn’t that tried already with the Sterling? But I’m sure the English have figured out electronics by now.

  • avatar

    They’re a business and their ultimate goal is to make money. If Land Rover knows something that the rest of the industry doesn’t and has actually figured out a way to grow the brand by building cars, then maybe they should. Sure, this is the exact opposite direction that other manufacturers are taking with their lineup, but maybe they see a niche in the market that we don’t.

    That said, a Land Rover car will probably dilute the brand image a bit in the same way that Porsche has diluted theirs by building cheesy-looking SUVs and sedans, but they’re making money and probably couldn’t care less.

  • avatar

    How much of this has to do with the need to electrify but the ridiculous burdens that electrifying high power SUVs has?

  • avatar

    Why not just revive the Rover brand. A new 75 anyone?

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    This makes about as much sense as re-launching Peugeot and Citroen (DS) in the States. I would really like to talk to the market researcher who found a gap there.
    And a Road Rover will just be some rebadged Suzuki, or whatever Tata can source dirt-cheap.

  • avatar

    They might as well build it. They’ve become a self-parody, after all.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    People said the opposite things about Porsche when it introduced the Panamera and Cayenne, and those are printing money for VAG.

    I don’t think a “car” Range Rover is a bad idea at all.

  • avatar

    I would have sworn this was an April 1st prank. Next Sergio will announce that he’s going to revive the Chrysler 200 with a Jeep badge slapped on it.

  • avatar

    It is not the worst idea in the world but I believe they might be a little early. Just like the Pacifica of yore. Its going to happen and its going to happen soon however it will depend on when they plan on releasing it. If they are planning it now then three years from now seems ok.
    So that 5 years from now and we are all heading back to cars they will have hedged their bets.

  • avatar

    They should just call it Rover again and simply build a good one this time. The 75 wasn’t so bad, just ageing with no money to invest in it since BMW pulled out. (And the little money they had, they invested in an awesome if stupid RWD V8 version of an FWD car.)

    (The 75 still lives in China, as the Roewe 750. Probably the Chinese also own the “Rover” brand as opposed to “Land Rover” and “Range Rover”, which is why a stupid new name like “Road Rover” is needed.)

    • 0 avatar

      The “Rover” brand was not included in the sale to SAIC, I expect because of concerns about diluting the value of the “Land Rover” brand. SAIC invented the “Roewe” brand for the redesigned 75.

      I think the original 75 was one of the nicest looking entry premium cars of its era, and by all accounts not a bad car.

    • 0 avatar

      Once more, with feeling! The Chinese *do not* own the name “Rover”.

      Tata got the rights to “Rover” from Ford (who had acquired it from BMW) when they purchased JLR.

      • 0 avatar
        Guitar man

        No, Ford bought the rights to “Range Rover” and “Landrover”. The “Rover” name (and all the other remaining BL paraphenalia) was sold to Nanjing and the MG name to SAIC. Later, SAIC acquired Nanjing.

      • 0 avatar
        Guitar man

        <<"Tata got the rights to “Rover” from Ford (who had acquired it from BMW) when they purchased JLR."

        Ford bought Landrover _before_ Austin-Rover was acquired by BMW, when it was still owned by British Aerospace. BMW only made the Mini, 25, 45 and 75 models.

  • avatar

    Variations on this naming theme have been tried before. In the later years of British Leyland they tried to spin off the van division as Freight Rover for a few years (selling the old Sherpa van) before that became Leyland-DAF and later just LDV.

    Then, infamously, in the dying days of MG Rover, the company imported a cheap Tata Indica hatchback and tried to sell it at a premium price under the name City Rover. It flopped and soon after so did the company.

    As others have said, the logical name for a new saloon (sedan) would simply be Rover, but that name on its own may be considered too tarnished even though the Rover 75 was a decent car (and far better than its contemporary rival the Jaguar S-type).

  • avatar

    This is a great idea for JLR. Take an XJ bolt on a crossover body shell and Velar interior then sell said car for lots of money whilst cutting costs on the XJ and delivering economies of scale. Land Rover are not trying to build another runaway hit, but a profitable car that benefits the wider group. They should call it a Rover after all a Land Rover is a Rover really.

    The 75 was a great car ruined by retro looks.

  • avatar

    @87 morgan.

    I’ll have to respectfully disagree. Price points don’t dictate competitive segments at the upper end of the market like they do at the low end of the market.

    Lotus 400 for example is a good price match for a Corvette, but competes for buyers with exotics.

    The brand image of something such as Land Rover is not at all in line with the brand image of Jaguar.

    Is a road rover going to be a sports car? hell no. it will be a luxury barge. No one who cares about driving performance will buy a Road Rover. It’ll be more in line with Bentley and RR, not in price points, but in vehicle type. It’ll probably more directly compete with Mercedes.

    Jaguar on the other hand goes for the sport luxury market very clearly. Driving dynamics and performance are on the forefront of their market offerings.

    That works out well for the two of them in my opinion.

    Lets look at the opposite example- the F-Pace. I don’t think that stole much if any business from Land Rover- instead it was targeted at products such as the Cayenne. Yes its an SUV, but its a different type of buyer.

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