Prototypes of the fifth-generation Range Rover have been caught on the roads for the first time. Due to be launched in 2022, the Land Rover’s flagship SUV will feature a ground-up redesign with the possibility of a fully electric version being developed.
The spy shots capturing the new vehicle show a development mule cloaked in current ‘L405’ generation bodywork, but the fit is awkward, revealing some of the secrets of the all-new platform planned for the firm’s full-size SUV.
The new car will ditch its ageing D7u underpinnings in favour of an all-new platform currently in development by Jaguar Land Rover, which the firm has previously said will “optimise commonality and reduce complexity, while managing costs as vehicle volumes increase.”
The new platform is all-aluminium and called Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA). It’s a fully flexible architecture supporting a large range of powertrains including 48-volt mild hybrid assisted Internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric. It can also be re-engineered for hydrogen-powered options too, future proofing JLR’s significant investment into the platform if demand swings from electric to fuel cell cars.
The brand’s Solihull plant, where the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Velar and Jaguar F-Pace are all produced, is currently being prepared for MLA with a multi-million pound overhaul. Last year, production of the Discovery was moved to JLR’s Nitra plant in Slovakia in order to make room for the enormous project.
It’s not just the platform that will be new – a fully-electric version of the fifth-generation Range Rover will almost certainly be one of the first models to benefit from a new agreement struck between JLR and the BMW Group to develop components for next-gen electric vehicles.
JLR’s new 3.0-litre straight-six mild hybrid engine will almost certainly appear – it’s already in the current generation car. A diesel straight six mild-hybrid is reportedly in development.
Given the model’s strong market presence in the United States, the Middle East and Asia, a large, powerful petrol option will remain an essential element of the brand’s flagship offering. The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 will be replaced by a new engine, with BMW seen as a suitable partner to provide power for the next V8 Range Rover. Presently, BMW uses a 4.4-litre V8 in the 7 and 8 Series and the X5 and X7 SUVs.
Design wise the next car will likely usher in an evolutionary look, but the possibility of a fully electric version could see JLR’s designers come up with a thoroughly modernised version of the vehicle’s traditional styling cues. As evidenced by the buckled bodywork on the spied test mule it’ll spurt in length and boast wider tracks too.
What happens inside is a mystery. The current-generation car has already been updated to feature the ‘blade’ dual ten-inch touchscreen infotainment setup and fully digital dials. The introduction of the MLA platform will likely usher in a totally new interior architecture, but physical buttons and rotary dials will remain a key element of the design, given the car will continue to retain multiple off-road drive and poor surface modes that require easy operation.
Would you like to see a fully electric Range Rover in future? Let us know in the comments below…