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'Radical evolution’ for Land Rover

Small SUV: LRX previews to a new sub-Freelander model from Land Rover.

Land Rover designer sees a steady future for the iconic British off-road brand

Land Rover logo19 Mar 2008

By PHILIP LORD

LAND Rover will make no drastic changes to existing design for future models and will work on smaller, lighter SUVs that will cut through the air more aerodynamically to keep ahead of increasingly stringent safety and emissions requirements.

Speaking to GoAuto during a visit to Australia recently, Land Rover’s chief designer (advanced projects) and head of design for the LRX small SUV concept, Julian Thomson said the British brand would not be making any significant design changes.

“While car design studios can talk about their ‘new look’ … (this) is not about (to occur) at Land Rover. The company has very successful, contemporary products already, so it would be very foolish to say, ‘Right, we’re going to do a new design language,’” he said.

However, Mr Thomson did describe the next-generation models now on the drawing board as a “radical evolution”.

“It’s going to be a pretty radical evolution, if there is such a thing,” he said. “Land Rover uses very unique lines, volumes, surfaces, and we want to retain that.”

 center imageMr Thomson also said the company would not change the relationship between Land Rover and Range Rover products. “We’ve looked at bringing the design language closer together, we looked at taking them further apart, and the conclusion is that they share similar elements already and that is probably about right,” he said.

There was also a clear message on the future direction of Defender. Defender may still get a stay of execution, but the current model is expected to last only until 2010. Mr Thomson suggested the design project had not started for Defender, implying that the current shape may get a stay of execution.

“Defender is something we are always looking at. We are always thinking about it, we always say, ‘We’d love to do that car’. It’s been very successful. It will be a tough call. Either way, whatever we do it will be very sophisticated. We’re not about doing strippedout utilitarian cars.” Mr Thomson also heightened anticipation that the next-generation Range Rover would have an all-aluminium body.

“Aluminium is a very obvious solution to us, and Jaguar, which is part of the Jaguar-Land Rover company, very much leads aluminium body technology. It’s obvious if one was looking at the next generation product, one should look at that technology,” he said.

While Land Rover’s future will include smaller models, the brand is not about to reduce the size of its bread-and-butter model, the Discovery. “Obviously cars like Discovery present a bigger challenge, especially if we want to retain the size of it, with the third-row seats,” Mr Thomson said.

“It’s quite a tough call for us. And light weight presents its own challenges, how much equipment you put in the car, because although people want less fuel consumption, they still want more equipment.”

Read more:

First look: LRX heralds mini-Landie


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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.