The new Range Rover is finally here, but does its arrival herald the end of Land Rover as we know it?
We’ve seen pictures of the long-overdue new Range Rover and fans of the brand will surely have breathed a sigh of relief when they clapped eyes on it. Well, certain fans will have.
You see, there are two types of Land Rover fan. There’s the ‘purists’; the kind of people who run jacked-up first-gen Discovery’s over rocky terrain and wouldn’t be seen driving anything that didn’t have a safari snorkel attached. For them, Land Rovers will always serve a functional purpose and they, along with farmers and the clay-pigeon set, remain eternally loyal to the brand.
Then there’s the ‘New’ Land Rover buyer; aspirational and with a sizeable chunk of disposable income. Range Rovers, Sports and Evoques are must-have accessories for pottering to the nearest shopping centres in. They’ll never go off-road, unless you count the car park at V Festival and say to them “Willys Jeep” and they’ll think you’re proposing a ménage à trois. These are the people who it seems Land Rover is now appealing to.
Don’t get us wrong, the Evoque is a wonderful car and the new Rangey will be too, and of course Land Rover has to make a profit, but it’s a shame that their models are increasingly just being marketed towards people who know little about the brand’s pedigree or their car’s real off-road abilities.
The new wave of customer is now at the forefront of the marque’s business model to such an extent that the brand is also developing a couture new Defender. This stylish and less-focused model that Land Rover themselves term “A re-interpretation” will be heavily influenced by the DC100 Sport concept which made its debut at last year’s Frankfurt motor show. Its sophisticated stance appears to reject the go-anywhere simplicity of its ladder-framed predecessors.
Clearly, Land Rover is going from strength to strength and it’s great to see a culturally ‘British’ manufacturer thriving in the midst of a recession, but let’s hope as the company switches to 24-hour production to keep up with demand, it doesn’t forget the people upon whom it’s success is built.
To lose the rugged Defender to a ‘Lifestyle’ replacement would be to take away the foundations that underpin Land Rover. Let’s hope the current Defender really does continue until 2020 and that the ‘New’ Defender carries on offering rugged, utilitarian, hardcore off-road abilities in the non-Sport version of the DC100.