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Land Rover Enters The New World With a Baby SUV

By raccars Published

The days of the aggressively large Chelsea tractor are long gone, with compact and crossover SUVs tearing up the auto market. Land Rover is planning to be in at the ground floor of the newest and fastest growing SUV sub-sector, the baby or mini-SUV, with an £18,000 unit that's likely to be the leader in its class.

The new model would be available to the worldwide market but, as yet, is still in the planning stages. Tata, Jaguar-Land Rover's Indian owner, is taking great strides to widen its product range, including a brand new group of 1.4 and 1.6 engines, both petrol and diesel, likely to be made available to the baby Land Rover and to Jaguar models.

A new platform would be created for the baby SUV, which Tata could share with its new Chinese ally, Chery and entry-level variants are likely to be restricted to front-wheel drive. The result should be close to four metres in length, or about 30cm smaller than the recent compact Range Rover, the Evoque. Designs being submitted are said to borrow heavily from the brand's new Defender and DC100 concept vehicles.

Boasting an £18,000 price tag, the Land Rover mini-SUV would be at the premium end of its market sector, costing more than the Mini Countryman but about £5,000 less than the brand's newest generation of Freelander.

With worldwide sales of SUVs in the B category expected to explode from one million units in 2012, to more than 2.5 million by 2020, this segment seems an ideal opportunity for Jaguar-Land Rover to put in place its expansion plans. The company has international aspirations, investing £1.1 billion into a Chinese manufacturing plant with its partner, Chery and is looking towards Saudi Arabia and South America to further solidify a worldwide production presence. The very successful Mini Countryman has proved there is a strong market for this class of car, as have the ever increasing sales figures. B-segment SUVs sold only 357,000 units globally in 2000, a figure which had more than doubled to 874,000 by 2011. It seems Land Rover would be foolish to miss out.

JLR is pinning its hopes upon the versatility of the Land Rover brand to help it explore new production possibilities – pick-ups, crossovers and sub-SUVs have all been mooted as acceptable avenues for its ambition, without diluting the DNA of the famous marque.

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