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Land Rover teaser


There have been rumours for more than a year about something new from the British brand, and the confirmation came with the single press picture released at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The shot asks more questions than it answers. Still, it is obvious the car in the picture is a big departure from the chunky off-roaders that fill out the Land Rover line-up from the flagship Range Rover down to the near-new Freelander II.

It is lower, much smoother and appears to have only two doors. And it has a swoopy roofline which is more like the new BMW X6 crossover coupe (also revealed at Frankfurt) than a traditional off-roader.

It also promises much lower fuel economy, up to 10per cent better than the Freelander II, as well as luring younger buyers to the brand.

The newcomer could be displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, instead of fighting for space at Frankfurt in a Ford family group, which included the all-new Jaguar XF, Mazda6 and facelifted Ford Focus, but there is no firm timing for showrooms.

“Next year would probably be too early. But we are not talking about the timing,” says Land Rover's Natasha Waddington. “We are just showing this picture for the moment.”

The Land Rover teaser comes as another luxury brand, Mercedes-Benz, gets ready to downsize on the four-wheel-drive front.

It has a GLK soft-roader ready for next year that will slide in below its existing ML and GL four-wheel-drives as a rival to the Freelander II and BMW's X3. But the GLK, which is based on the mechanical package used for the C-Class sedan, is not coming to Australia.

“The GLK is not going to be made in right-hand-drive. We could not make a business case,” Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy says. “There is not enough volume. We would have liked it, but on the right-hand-drive side there is only Australia, the UK, South Africa and Japan. Not enough to make the numbers work.”

The sneak peek of the new Land Rover comes at a good time for the company, which is on the auction block together with Jaguar and, most likely, Volvo as Ford looks to cut costs and complications to get it back into the black.

It also shows Land Rover wants to follow Jeep into a more-youthful area of the four-wheel-drive business.

The American company has been very successful in the US in turning Jeep into more than just a heavyweight off-road company, although its soft-shaped Compass has not done well in Australia. The Patriot, which is even newer, promises better results.

Land Rover has its own model to copy, though, as it has done very good business with the city-focused Range Rover Sport. It is much more like a car to drive, even with its boxy body.

The other Land Rover news from the Frankfurt show is a stop-start engine system that will be fitted to its vehicles from 2009. It is claimed to improve fuel economy by up to 10 per cent by killing the motor when the car is stopped in traffic, but it is only promised for manual transmission vehicles with more work needed on an adaptation for automatics.

 

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