The all-new, fifth-generation Range Rover is in the first stages of testing before it hits the showrooms at the end of 2021, tasked with leading Jaguar Land Rover out of the coronavirus-induced slump that’s expected to affect the global car industry for much of this year and beyond.
Despite the closure of JLR’s production facilities and the paused launch of the new Land Rover Defender, it’s understood that there will be no let-up in the development of either the Range Rover or the battery-electric replacement for the Jaguar XJ, which will also go on sale late next year.
Pictures of a disguised prototype test vehicle show the large SUV undergoing a winter testing regime, with hot weather trials due to take place in the coming weeks. They also show how much of the stance of the new Range Rover, which is based on JLR’s Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA), will change. The front and rear tracks seem to be wider, it appears to have more prominent wheel arches and the prototype has rather less of a barrel-sided look than the current model.
Even with the Mk5 model in disguise, it seems Land Rover’s design studio has managed to give the SUV an even more imperious and imposing look, which is crucial to the Range Rover’s commercial appeal.
A close look at the pictures suggest that the ‘face’ of the new model is not so different from that of the current vehicle, marked out by the wide and deep grille and Velar-style slim headlight units.
The company’s new flagship will replace the current Range Rover, which was launched back in 2012, and should give JLR a much-needed high profit-margin boost just as the global economy is expected to begin to emerge from the effects of the current lockdown.
The fourth-generation Range Rover has been a very strong product for the company, selling nearly 53,000 units globally last year, only a fraction down on sales in 2018. The Mk5 will again be sold in standard and long-wheelbase forms, but that’s where the direct comparisons with the current car end.
The new model will be the first Land Rover built on an MLA structure that promises to transform JLR’s competitiveness. The new platform is expected to deliver a reduction in warranty and reliability problems as well as allowing software-over-the-air (SOTA) updates. MLA can also accommodate conventional internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric powertrains.
Other advantages of the MLA’s SOTA technology could include reducing the need for dealer recalls, predictive servicing that allows dealer visits to be automatically scheduled and even user-based insurance schemes. Data generated by real-world use of MLA-based vehicles will also help inform future model development, say insiders.
Unlike today’s ageing Range Rover architecture, the new MLA platform has been designed from the outset as a ‘flex-fuel’ components set. Autocar understands the Mk5 Range Rover will make use of a BMW-sourced petrol V8 – which will be aimed at markets such as the Middle East and California – but little other information has leaked about the other combustion engine options.