Amid a Flurry of Model Changes, Land Rover's 'Road Rover' Is No Sure Thing
Jaguar Land Rover’s mysterious Road Rover name, now trademarked, has been the subject of speculation ever since the British automaker began tossing it around in internal communications. As the company prepares a slew of new or redesigned models based largely around a versatile new architecture, the name has cropped up again.
It seems “Road Rover” won’t appear on the flanks of the mystery vehicle, even if it is built.
Actually, the nature of the vehicle isn’t quite a mystery. According to Autocar, which just published a rundown of Jaguar Land Rover’s near-term product plans, JLR wants its Modular Longitudinal Architecture — aka the MLA platform — to underpin all of its vehicles. The platform, due out in 2020, supports a wide variety of propulsion sources, including mild-hybrid gas and diesel powertrains, plug-in hybrids, and pure EVs, for rear- or all-wheel drive applications.
It’s the greenest of the three powertrain JLR wants for the Road Rover, which Autocar describes as a Range Rover “Allroad” EV. The Road Rover name will not find its way to the vehicle, the publication states, and the vehicle itself seems built on shaky planning ground. A weak economy or a collapse of the estate car market could erase the model’s future, it claims.
This seems to confirm that JLR envisions the Road Rover an all-electric, road-focused station wagon with enough off-road prowess baked in to satisfy the company’s heritage.
It’s a big, pricey plan JLR’s working with. By 2024, every model in the automaker’s stable will see a top-down redesign, with a few new editions. This include a larger, ultra-lux Jaguar J-Pace SUV to take on Porsche’s Cayenne, a new Land Rover Defender, and the aforementioned Road Rover project. Each of these vehicle will gain the MLA platform, said to be lighter than JLR’s current aluminum architecture. The all-electric Jaguar XJ gains it, too.
With MLA, plug-in hybrid models will see an electric motor handle rear-wheel propulsion in AWD models.
Going by JLR’s timeline, the first revamped product is the second-generation Range Rover Evoque, which gains a plug-in hybrid version. While the MLA platform looms in its future, the Evoque 2 sees its current steel platform revamped and renamed as JLR’s Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA). It’s the same platform underpinning the next-gen Land Rover Discovery Sport and Jaguar E-Pace.
The automaker wants its smallest and most affordable models to one day adopt the fancy new MLA underpinnings, but, like the Road Rover, this plan isn’t set in stone. For one, the models would have to grow in size to accommodate the platform. That’s not great for affordability. However, to keep the models similar to their current form, JLR would have to develop a new platform — heaping additional development costs onto the automaker.
At least there’ll be time to make a decision. JLR didn’t plan on releasing the aluminum platform small utes until 2025.
[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]
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