Project Icon, the long-awaited replacement for the 61-year-old traditional Land Rover, is under secret development inside JLR’s Gaydon design centre and earmarked for a 2012 launch.
The new Land Rover is a relatively simple, steel-suspended workhorse intended also to attract lower-end Discovery buyers. It should hit the market soon after Land Rover’s existing iconic model, the Defender, reaches the end of the road, killed by legislation, and will reach most of the current Defender's 160-odd export markets.
The new Project Icon workhorse is based on the tough, capable but relatively heavy T5 steel platform chassis used for the existing Discovery and Range Rover Sport models, both of which are due to be replaced beyond 2012 by aluminium-based models which are between 400kg and 500kg lighter.
Land Rover wants to retain a simple, twin-rail T5 chassis because allows them to continue offering the variety of body styles — hard and soft tops, truck and crew-cab versions – from which Defender buyers can now choose.
The T5 chassis supports a modern all-independent suspension available both with steel and air springs. It is well-known for its sturdiness, but will need its own weight-reduction campaign.
The model will be made in the UK at first, but JLR bosses believe it could soon be made from KD (Knocked Down) kits in big markets like China, Russia and India.
There are no details yet of Project Icon’s engines, but a big four-cylinder turbodiesel like the Freelander’s Ford-PSA 2.2-litre four, or the base Discovery’s 2.7 litre V6 turbodiesel make likely candidates.