New 2021 Range Rover: design, specification and spy shots

Mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the fifth-generation Range Rover will be followed by an electric version; spy shots give design clues

2021 Range Rover

An all-new Range Rover with plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid variants is on the way – but the expected arrival of a pure-electric version of the iconic SUV has now been pushed back, as part of a wide-ranging rethink of the Land Rover brand's electrification strategy.

The zero-emissions Range Rover had been expected to arrive at some point in 2022. However, according Jaguar Land Rover's statement on its revised strategy released in February 2021: "In the next five years, Land Rover will welcome six pure-electric variants... through its three families of Range Rover, Discovery and Defender. The first all-electric variant will arrive in 2024."

It's not known which of the three 'families' will be the first to get the fully electric treatment. Plug-in hybrid versions of both the Defender and Discovery Sport are already available and plug-in power is likely to be added to the Discovery with its next update. The company anticipates that 60% of its sales will have zero tailpipe emissions by 2030.

New Range Rover electric

The new Range Rover will be built on Land Rover’s new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) platform, which can support battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid powertrains.

Land Rover has been testing prototypes at its base in Gaydon for over a year now, using a mixture of new running gear and existing bodyshells that give few clues as to the new car’s design. However, the spy shots have shown a car that may be representative of the final product under its comprehensive camouflage.

From the pictures, it's clear that the Range Rover will keep its overall proportions, with a large glasshouse, raked rear screen and bluff front end. Other Range Rover calling cards like the clamshell bonnet, ‘floating’ roof and split tailgate have all made it onto the new car, too.

Crucially, it looks as though the Range Rover’s wheelbase has extended – to our eyes, the car’s signature large rear overhang has shrunk by a few centimetres. This could leave more room in the floor for batteries when the electric version arrives. 

Elsewhere, it looks as though the new Range Rover will get new LED headlights and tail-lights, as well as a redesigned grille. The seen in spy shots does without the pop-out door handles of the Range Rover Velar and Evoque, but these could well be added for production.

Design and technology

Our exclusive images (above) preview what the electric Range Rover could look like without its camouflage. At the front, the styling follows the trend of most electric cars with a smaller grille and fewer air intakes for cooling.

Meanwhile at the rear, the tail-light signature has evolved from a prominent, rectangular block into a thinner, horizontal design that straddles the rear pillar and tailgate. Naturally, there are no exhaust pipes, making the overall design less cluttered than before.

“There are two basic approaches,” Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern told our sister title Auto Express. “There’s one that says if it’s an all-electric vehicle, it gives you the ability to free up your proportions. aSo you could have a more cab-forward approach. And then the question is, is that right for Land Rover?

“Or do you just forget about what the proportion system is, and design the car around its relevance to the consumer and optimising it in terms of what it’s capable of doing in terms of its on-road/off-road abilities, in terms of its functionality, its storage, its versatility and all those things?”

It’s too early to speculate on performance figures, although Land Rover’s MLA platform has room for two electric motors – one on each axle, giving four-wheel drive – and a large, 100kWh battery if required. This would give the electric Range Rover a range well in excess of 300 miles, putting it among the longest-range electric cars on sale.

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