Reporting from the 88th Geneva motor show, Driven to Write, in conjunction with Auto-Didakt searches in vain for signs of progress amid the weaponised SUV landscape.
Having launched what is quite likely the star of the Geneva motor show in the comely form of the Jaguar I-Pace, JLR are quite understandably basking in peer-group approbation and the warm glow of being on-zeitgeist. But meanwhile, there is more conventional fare to be made and sold – and a bottom line to be protected. After all, introducing a BEV is a witheringly expensive business, especially one whose sales potential still remains a relative unknown.
So offering what is arguably the yang to the I-Pace’s ying, JLR also debuted the limited-run Range Rover SV Coupé – all £220,000 (before options) of it. To be constructed at JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations atelier in Coventry, only 999 examples will be built – albeit, one assumes that if asked politely, SVO would oblige suitably well padded wallets once the current run ceases.
Launched to commemorate Land Rover’s 70th anniversary, the RR is said to honour the original Range Rover, which was of course a 2-door vehicle. However, it’s pretty obvious this is simply a handy framing device for JLR to discern the likely appetite amongst luxury SUV buyers for a Bentayga-rivalling RR product.
According to Land Rover design chief, Gerry McGovern, the SV Coupé is also a well aimed shot across the bows of the aftermarket, who have been making a very good living from creating emboldened versions of LR/RR products – a matter of some irritation to our Gerry. With this car, JLR are drawing a deep line in the sand.
You can read all about the Range’s bespoke interior and technical niceties elsewhere, should you have the interest. More pertinent however is the realisation that JLR have identified a large and highly lucrative hole in their business model and are moving fast to exploit it.
Our man at Geneva was both appalled, yet simultaneously lost in admiration. “The RR Coupé was just hideous. They got the basics wrong with that one which I find a quite surprising. I’m not sure Gerry McGovern had much to do with it to be honest. It looks like something that lesser hands have been assigned to. But quite smart I have to say – from a business point of view, really smart.”
I must concur. What this car has done is to blow the bloody doors off for Range Rover to gain a seat at the same table currently occupied by Bentley and being kept warm for Rolls Royce Cullinan’s reveal later this year. Expect a super-luxury Range Rover model sooner than later.
Meanwhile, at VW. AG, Geneva offered Lamborghini the opportunity to show the Urus SUV in Europe for the first time. Our correspondent found himself searching for an appropriate expletive. Somehow ‘Countach!’ didn’t seem terribly apt. Suggestions on a postcard please.
Over at BMW, even if humble pie wasn’t necessarily in order, a close up with the X4, which made its World debut at Palexpo did elicit a screed of conciliatory comment from our Auto-Didaktic reporter. “It doesn’t look quite as diabolical in the metal, It’s actually, erm, better looking than the (Mercedes) GLC/E Coupés”. You read it here first.