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Old 01-21-2005, 07:08   #1 (permalink)
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EU:Land Rover considering a niche SUV smaller than Freelander

Land Rover considering a niche SUV smaller than Freelander

BRADFORD WERNLE | Automotive News Europe

Land Rover is considering an SUV smaller than the Freelander.

Chief designer Geoff Upex said the SUV would be in the premium small-vehicle niche with BMW's Mini Cooper.

"Premium becomes less and less about size," Upex said at the Detroit auto show. "The Mini showed that a premium car doesn't have to be big.

"Part of our job is to look at stuff that isn't in the plan."

With the arrival of the Range Rover Sport this year, the Freelander is the next big vehicle on the horizon for the British SUV manufacturer.

The next Freelander probably will move up-market, Upex said, leaving room at the small end of the lineup for an urban-type activity vehicle.

He said Land Rover did "an enormous amount of soul searching" when it decided to produce the Freelander because the Freelander didn't have a chassis, unlike other Land Rovers.

"Looking back, it wasn't that big a deal," Upex said. "We can do a lot more with the brand than people believe. Who ever thought BMW would ever do a 1 series?"
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