The Range Rover Sport Coupé has been spotted testing for the second time ahead of its expected launch next year.
The next Range Rover model will break fresh ground by moving the brand into sportier and more road-biased territory with a luxury £60k model pitched at the BMW X6. It could also be the model that introduces JLR's upcoming electric drivetrain to the road.
Three years ago, when Autocar revealed Land Rover’s ‘three-pillar’ brand strategy — Defender, Discovery and Range Rover — the Sport Coupé was referred to as ‘Evoque XL’ and positioned between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport.
The Sport Coupé will sit on the same aluminium architecture as the Jaguar F-Pace.
All-electric powertrain possible
Powertrains for the Sport Coupé will be taken from the extensive JLR range of six and eight-cylinder diesel and petrol engines, but it is not yet clear if the new Range Rover will feature the four-cylinder engines that are available in the Jaguar F-Pace.
It could also feature the all-electric powertrain that JLR is developing for its I-Pace EV, which should be seen next year and will help JLR hit a new Californian target of 15% fleet mix of battery electric vehicles between 2018 and 2025.
However, because many buyers will live in mega-cities in Europe, the United States and Asia, Range Rover is expected to offer a hybrid powertrain, possibly based on the 340bhp 3.0 SDV6 HEV in the Range Rover Sport.
If Range Rover chooses to fit its most powerful 542bhp 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine, the new model will offer outstanding performance, partly because its lightweight alloy body could weigh as little as 1800kg — a 400kg advantage over the X6 and GLE Coupé.
That engine is thought to be earmarked for an F-Pace SVR model and for the range-topping model of the Sport Coupé range, which could command a price of around £90,000.
Another crucial decision to be made is the name of the new car. In many ways, the new Range Rover would be more deserving of the ‘Sport’ name than the current seven-seater model that wears the badge. Range Rover won’t discuss this key detail, except to confirm that the existing Sport will keep its name.
Launch expected next year
Many details of the new Sport Coupé remain secret in the build-up to its launch, which is expected next year.
However, before these spy shots were released, Autocar pieced together a picture of the new model (shown below). The Sport Coupé is said to 'set new standards for a Range Rover’s styling, interior and road-focused handling'. This handling will come from the F-Pace’s suspension and lightweight aluminium body.
Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern and Range Rover design boss Phil Simmons were understood to be developing a new look for the Sport Coupé by exploiting the sporty, long-bonnet proportions of the F-Pace.
At around 4.7m long, the new Range Rover will be a little smaller than the 4.9m-long X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé.
The interior, which is yet to be captured by our spy photographers, is expected to be more intimate than those of current Range Rovers and, in an echo of the layout of the X6 and GLE, is being designed around a luxurious four-seat layout. A 2+1 rear seat with fifth seatbelt will be on the options list.
Autocar has been told by insiders that the F-Pace’s alloy architecture is not capable of stretching to a three-row, 5+2 seating arrangement — the configuration previously attributed to the ‘Evoque XL’.
The cabin will be more like a ‘cockpit’ than any previous Range Rover and feature a dramatic sloping roofline with a tight rear overhang.
The rear doors will be reduced to minimal openings in the search for the most elegant styling possible, while the luxury-quality interior is understood to introduce new materials and finishes.
The target market will include an ‘urban cool’ group of buyers, and the colour palette will therefore be chosen with them in mind.