Autocar has learned that Land Rover will be boosting its range with the addition of a new seven-seat model, coming in 2012.
Insiders at Land Rover know the seven-seater as ‘Project L486’ and the new model is based on the Freelander platform. The car will have unique bodywork, styling and interior to mark it out as being more than a Freelander variant.
The standard Freelander platform will need to be heavily modified, with an extended wheelbase to make room for the seven-seat configuration. The new model is likely to be closer in size to the Discovery than the Freelander.
The seven-seater fits in to Land Rover’s range as a more road-focused car than the Discovery, with a lower kerbweight, sharper chassis, better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.
It will have the Freelander’s front-biased four-wheel drive system with a centre diff to send torque to the slipping wheels. Other off-road aids will include hill descent control, traction control and stability control, all operated via the Terrain Response switch in the cabin.
Engines and transmission will shared with the Freelander, Land Rover having secured powertrain supply from Ford as part of the deal under which it was sold to Tata. The key engines from a UK perspective are likely to be 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre diesels with a choice of manual, automatic and twin-clutch transmissions. Land Rover is expected to use the same Getrag twin-clutch system that Ford and Volvo are using – a ‘micro-hybrid’ soft-start system will also be available.
The styling, represented in our artist’s impression, is said to be a mix of the Freelander and forthcoming LRX. “But with its own distinct look,” according to a source.We have drawn it with a distinctive ‘stepped-roof’, a feature that increases head-room for rear-seat passengers.
The company is in the process of choosing a name for the seven-seater with one possibility, among several under consideration, being ‘Ventura’. It’s a name that’s been mooted before at Land Rover for previous new models.
Land Rover plans to build the L486 alongside the LRX at Halewood, current home of the Freelander and X-Type. Both Land Rover hopes to build up to 70,000 of each model a year, which will boost production at the Merseyside plant to 210,000 units year – a much more profitable level than the current 100,000 units.