Land Rover is poised to give the green light to a new model that would slot in below the Freelander, making it the company’s least expensive product.
It’s thought that company bosses are seriously considering bringing the DC100 concept to life as an entry-level ‘leisure’ Land Rover. The DC100 was originally conceived as a pure design concept to preview how the Defender could evolve, but reaction to it in its present state has been so overwhelmingly positive that Land Rover is considering using the DC100’s looks for a new entry-level road-going model.
According to one production scenario, the DC100 will be based on the Evoque platform. Such a car would measure just 4.3m long, making it a direct rival for the Mini Countryman, Skoda Yeti and Nissan Juke.
The other option is to build it on the new-generation Defender architecture, which is expected to be a traditional separate ladder frame chassis. This latter scenario would, however, limit the DC100’s appeal in affluent urban areas where significant volumes could be sold. Land Rover bosses are also aware that the baby SUV market is booming and other brands, including Jeep, are planning to enter the segment.
Public and press reaction to the DC100 concept — originally styled as live research into the possible form of the all-new Defender family — is thought to have been very enthusiastic at last year’s Frankfurt debut and at Los Angeles and Tokyo before Christmas.
Land Rover’s brand boss, John Edwards, recently revealed to Autocar that he was “massively encouraged” by the reaction to the DC100, and by the fact that people thought they were looking at a £45,000 vehicle. “It’s £20,000 to £25,000 in reality,” he said.
The new entry-level model would be part of what Land Rover internally refers to as its leisure-oriented range, the others being utility (Defender) and luxury (Range Rovers, including the Evoque). It is part of a wider scheme to launch no fewer than 40 new cars over the next five years, including a larger version of the highly successful Evoque.
Land Rover is also planning to inject more desirability into the design of the leisure models, which are more utility-focused than the Range Rovers, using sportiness, more arresting styling and more car-like interiors. “We want them to be more exciting than they are at the moment,” said design chief Gerry McGovern.
McGovern believes that more differentiation is needed between the Mk4 Range Rover, out early next year, and the next Discovery, suggesting that the Disco will survive as an upmarket seven-seater wearing the Land Rover brand, rather than being absorbed into the new Defender line-up.