The Good Oil: Whatever happened to the Road Rover?
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The original Range Rover’s landmark achievement was to unite extreme off-road ability with a very high level of on-road comfort and luxury.
Both have been synonymous with Range Rover ever since. But actually, the company originally intended to create a model that was just for on-road driving. It was to be called the Road Rover.
Land Rover had already nailed the off-road thing with its one and only model (the “Land Rover”, or Defender as we now know it). But in 1951 it decided to broaden its offering, to focus more on road driving.
Over the next decade it created a series of prototypes under the Road Rover name. They were based on Rover sedan platforms (hence the name) with rear-drive, but had long-travel suspension and high-sided wagon bodies. Yes, Land Rover unwittingly created an SUV/crossover.
But ultimately, it all went nowhere. In the late 1960s Land Rover decided its new road-worthy model should have even more luxury and not compromise on off-road ability. The first prototypes were now-famously badged Velar (Latin for “veil”) for public testing prior to launch in 1970, although the first clay model in 1967 still wore “Road Rover” script on the bonnet.
The Road Rover name reared its head again recently, with rumours that Land Rover was planning a crossover battery electric vehicle (BEV) based on Jaguar hardware.
However, the project was reportedly dropped when Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announced its Reimagine future product plan in 2021; part of that is clear differentiation between Land Rover and Jaguar models.