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by Daniel DeGasperi

Long-awaited confirmation that Land Rover will build a long-wheelbase Range Rover came at the launch of the short-wheelbase model in Morocco this week.

Manufacturing manager of the company’s Solihull factory, Peter Gray, said the flexibility of the new all-aluminium PLA platform reduces the complexity of  building various models on the same line.

The SWB Range Rover, LWB Range Rover, and upcoming Sport, the latter of which will utilise an even shorter wheelbase than the smaller ‘Vogue’, will all run down the same line at the West Midlands plant, alongside the existing Discovery 4.

Currently, with the Sport sharing its separate-chassis platform with the Disco, there’s a two-thirds production split favouring those models over the new Vogue. When the new Sport and LWB Range Rover come online next year, the factory will switch to only one-third production of the Discovery 4.

The long-wheelbase Range Rover is designed primarily for the Chinese market, which values a large amount of rear legroom. In our overseas first drive, we criticised the new Rangie for lacking in rear legroom compared with circa-five-metre long sedans like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The packaging impact of incorporating heavy-duty all-wheel-drive hardware will be amortised by extending the wheelbase and stretching the rear doors, as our spy shots show.

Both BMW and Audi have recently designed long-wheelbase 3 Series and A4 models, respectively, for China, which has been the world’s largest new-car market since 2008.

Expect the long-wheelbase Range Rover to start rolling down the production line around the same time as the Range Rover Sport, from mid next year. The variants will represent the start of a huge model expansion for Land Rover, which has committed to launch 40 new products within five years.

Developments will include the Discovery 5 and Evoque Convertible, due in 2014, and the Discovery ‘Sport’ Freelander-replacement and new breed of Defenders the following year.




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