Steve Cropley designs his vision of the next-generation Land Rover
15 March 2010

Could a layman create a credible Land Rover for the next generation? To discover the truth, the company’s bosses ‘lent’ me a couple of their most creative men to attempt the task, working as if they were producing a new model according to a client’s instructions.

Chief designer Ollie le Grice and designer Florian Dobe first gave me a half-hour questionnaire, focusing on usage (towing, comfort, great on-road performance, carrying capacity and space, reasonably hard-core off-roading ability).

See the pics of Steve Cropley designing his future Land Rover

They asked what I’d like the design to avoid (aggressiveness, heaviness). On design style, I asked for the elegant simplicity of Apple’s products and the integrity and manufacturing precision of Rolex.

It seemed a very tall order to me, but within a week they had initial visuals to show. These depicted a more modern, somewhat less monolithic Discovery-style vehicle, still with the square back and split tailgate I wanted, but with a new expression of the side vents and new rear shoulders to express the modernity I wanted.

Cutaway side sills helped emphasise lightness (much of a future SUV’s acceptability will depend, I believe, on how it looks). After some argument over tyres with an unacceptably low profile and some rapid mods to the things I felt needed changing, Ollie and I submitted our design to design director Gerry McGovern for appraisal. He didn’t spare our feelings.

“I think it’s a bit overstyled,” he said. “I don’t think it’s functional enough, although some of the details are nice. But the face of the car seems too generic. It needs to look more positively like a Land Rover; to echo its roots more. It looks quite nice, but you really can’t tell what it is.”

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Once he’d said these things, I could instantly see the sense of them. This SUV could indeed have been something other than a Landie, yet Landies have always been very distinctive. I felt rather apologetic about having led Ollie and Florian into a position where they’d had to take both barrels of McGovern’s critical shotgun.

“No problem,” said Ollie, with something like a grin. “This is how things go sometimes. You want your work to be chosen, so you have to take criticism on the chin and adapt as quickly as you can. It’s all part of being a designer.”

Steve Cropley

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15 March 2010

Thankfully you designed a Landrover. For an awful moment I thought you'd had a go at the Landrover Defender in a far less successful attempt than your Routemaster effort!

15 March 2010

It seems to me that either you Steve, or they, can't see beyond the LR3 style. This is yet more 'mini Range Rover' than a proper Land Rover. Thank heavens McGovern didn't like it.

15 March 2010

Kia's been on the phone - they want their Soul back.



Trouble is Steve, there's really only so many designs that one can come up with in a crowded SUV/soft SUV/Crossover market and L/Rover's late entry after the likes of competent Kia/Hyundai entries and others into these lighter, softer generic SUVs means they may end up looking like a copycat by 2014.

15 March 2010

I think Nick has a good point!

And yes, it was good that you didn't do what AutoExpress have done over at their site - attempted a Defender design - and failed to comprehend what the Defender is about.


15 March 2010

I have been giving this some thought and the more you think about it the more you realise that the Defender is doomed.

Lets look at the essentials:

  • two wheelbases
  • tough basic suspension
  • high driving position
  • good ground clearance
  • seperate tough bumpers
  • modular...pick-up, station wagon, van etc
  • high profile tyres
  • good space in engine compartment for repairs on site
  • large glass area for visibility
  • spare wheel!!!
  • tough basic trim to take excessive wear
  • etc etc

You end up with what you already have...sure you could make the vehicle a couple of inches wider to give the driver some shoulder room, but you cant go for fashionably low and wide styles as a working vehicle needs to be manouverable in tight spaces.

I am afraid that even the requirement of the bumpers will fall foul of current crash legislation so therefore, as I said, this vehicle and its attributes are doomed for the same reason that the old original Toyota Landcruiser is only available in third world countries now.

15 March 2010

[quote 289]You end up with what you already have[/quote]

good point, which is possibly why Mercedes reversed their original decision to stop producing the G-Wagen, having now extended its time to at least 2015 and have just cashed-in by producing a special edition 'Pur/Pure' edition which is very close to the thirty year old original, except with a non-basic price and are reintroducing official right-hand drive versions. If only L/Rover could get around crash test stuff and other legislation threatening its legalness it might make sense to keep Defender going.

15 March 2010

Landrover already have the design for a great Defender replacement, the Mark 1 Discovery commercial. With an engine upgrade it would meet current emissions, it was always good a crash test so with a few upgrades it should comply with current regs and it's great offroad good onroad and the chassie could be modified to any length. Pretty much like a defender.

15 March 2010

The use of the term' SUV' should be banned. It's meaningless American drivel (sorry Jackjflash).


15 March 2010

I think you are right Nick, I was always a huge fan of G'Wagens having had quite a few whilst running a M-B dealership. Beautifully engineered they were always too expensive for most farmers, although we sold quite a few to big estates in Scotland. They never parted with them and ran them until they dropped, infact there are quite a few still going up there from the early 80's on.

Here in Hampshire there are very few farmers still using Defenders, most now run Nissan Navara's or Mitsubishi L200's which they find more reliable, more comfortable and with Mud terrain tyres almost as good off road.

I hadnt considered 'Troggy's' idea of using the Disco Mk1 commercial as a would be easy to lower the roofline and create a pick-up version. I cant believe L-R hasn't considered this so there must be a reason.

By the way Nick are you ex Ford Europe?

15 March 2010

although it is not the best, and i applaud you for trying, i know my effort would not be as good, it is far far far far better than the crap version on Auto Distress.

I agree it has to have the essence of teh original, but with a modern twist, fit finish and ride need to be far improved on current version, but with the look of the current version, if it were smoothed out and more rounded edge, i slightly leaned back grill to give a little aerodynamics.

This should not be a tarted up version as it woul dtake away the utilitarian feel of teh current one, and it sohould also be available for many many versions, and hoipefully the Forces would then come back to Land Rover and proclaim British is Best


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