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LR-MS platform could spawn spacious new family-size 'coupe' SUV

Land Rover's design and marketing departments are close to deciding whether to add a fourth model to the Land Rover Range Rover line-up, according to insiders.

The aim is to bridge the gap between the compact Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport. The range-topping Evoque will cost around £45k, while the current Range Rover Sport range kicks off at £55k. Land Rover’s marketing team thinks that a new model could be priced from £35k, rising to as much as £55k.

One of the conceptual front-runners to fill this role is said to be a ‘Grand Evoque’, which takes the new baby Range Rover’s dramatic and sporting looks and scales them up into a bigger model. It’s thought Land Rover’s designers think there could be a big demand for a family-size ‘coupé SUV’ that’s less domineering and aggressive than BMW’s X6.

Aside from the medium-size SUV now being a staple of the US new car market, there’s increasing evidence that Chinese car buyers are beginning to embrace SUVs, with sales recently taking off, especially in Beijing and Shanghai.

The five-door machine would take advantage of the considerable packaging advantages of Land Rover’s new LR-MS platform (which is loosely based on the Ford EuCD platform used on the Freelander), which underpins the Evoque. Advocates of the model say the Grand Evoque could benefit from an aggressively sporting appearance and still offer considerable interior space, especially in the rear.

Read our first drive review of the Range Rover Evoque

The LR-MS platform could be stretched by around 300mm, with half fed into rear legroom and the rest into creating a longer rear overhang and a bigger boot. The platform’s flexibility would also allow the use of a taller bulkhead and higher seating positions for the front passengers, making the final model around 100mm taller than the Evoque.

Building the fourth model on a version of JLR’s new corporate aluminium platform — which will underpin the new Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Jaguar XJ — is thought to be a non-runner as it’s too big and too expensive for the niche being explored by Land Rover.

Like its smaller sister model, a Grand Evoque would get the option of front-wheel drive and have a similar line-up of 2.2-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol engines.

This proposal to scale up the Evoque platform also makes sense from another angle. Jaguar is keen to enter the SUV market with a sporty, design-led crossover and this could also use the Grand Evoque platform to create a new model. Bundling the fourth Range Rover and the first Jaguar SUV onto this platform, and making both cars at Halewood, would make considerable financial sense.

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