New 2021 Range Rover Mk5: the luxury SUV goes testing

Published: 12 January 2021

► The new 2021 Range Rover dossier
► Our spies piece together scoop jigsaw
► Artist’s impressions news on Mk5 Rangie 

We've got pictures of the all-new 2021 Range Rover testing – the next-generation of the luxury SUV that arguably defines the sector it created half a century ago. Where once the imperious British 4x4 had it all to itself, there are now numerous - mainly German - rivals snapping at its heels, so the new, fifth-generation car represents an important moment in Land Rover’s product planning.

Land Rover understands better than most that it’s love at first sight that really matters. Good news, then, that even when clad in a swirly camo wrap the new Rangie Mk5 impresses with its self-confident stance and classy, restrained proportions. It is less extrovert than Velar, but just as elegant.

The next Range Rover will go on sale later in 2021, with some 40,000 annual sales forecast. 

Inside, the next Range Rover appears to rely on touchscreens as the most prominent form of UX – though most of the cabin is covered up on this pre-production model. 

We've also been able to peel off the camo, thanks to new artist’s impression by Avarvarii in our September 2020 issue. More so than the more performance-focused, brasher Aston Martin DBX, the Range Rover epitomises the fine art of the high-end British 4x4 – a timeless blend of style, substance, craftsmanship and comfort. 

Read more on this story in the September 2020 issue of CAR magazine

Gotcha: our spies have already caught the new 2021 Range Rover on test

Gerry McGovern, design chief at Land Rover, is already on record defining his vision for his three biggest models - explaining how the Range Rover, Sport and Velar will develop. ‘Of this threesome, the Velar is clearly the most modern, advanced vehicle,’ he said. ‘The other two models are going to evolve in different directions. The next Sport will be even chunkier, bolder, more aggressive. The Range Rover, on the other hand, will become even sleeker, smoother and sexier. The proportions are to be more contemporary, but the message it relays remains the same: tastefully reduced, understated.’

The oily bits: one platform for all big Range Rovers

MLA is the key to all Jaguar Land Rover’s premium future models. Short for Modular Longitudinal Architecture, MLA is complemented by MTA (T for transversely-mounted engines) at the bottom end of the fleet. MLA comes in three versions known as low (next Jaguar i-Pace), mid (Jaguar’s forthcoming J-Pace flagship SUV) and high (Range Rover).

Fully scalable in length, width, height and wheelbase, the aluminium MLA is much lighter, stiffer and less complex than the D7 platform it replaces. It’s a flexible yet extensively standardised base which can cater for both Jag and Land Rover, naturally with 4wd available across the board.

A stately look for the new 2021 Range Rover: a sober suit hides cutting-edge mechanicals

All three versions can accommodate combustion engines, plug-in hybrids and zero-emission battery-electric powertrains (although the Range Rover won’t go full electric until 2027, according to our sources). Via selectively defined modules and structural interfaces, the extensive adaptability stretches from passenger cars through crossovers to wilderness-ready full SUVs. 

But MLA is not just about parts sharing and commonality. It also describes key character-forming and investment-intensive componentry like axles, transmissions, differentials, brakes and powertrains, not to mention the full range of option packs from luxury to serious off-roading. 

Sleeker – but still a Range Rover

The camouflaged prototypes recently caught on camera in Germany and in the far north, undergoing cold-weather testing, don’t tell the full story. But they do indicate a wider, lower and more aerodynamic silhouette, a more steeply raked windscreen and a more three-dimensional evolution of the current, slab-sided form. This time around, the long-wheelbase version is no afterthought but an integral part of the L460 programme, a truth reflected in the bespoke rear doors, side windows and falling roofline.

The traditional split tailgate lives on, as do – most likely – the vertical louvres in the front wings and the trademark wraparound indicators. The stacked indicators and repeaters – two on each side, front and rear, and first seen on the new Defender – are also likely to make an appearance on the new Range Rover. Another item handed down from the latest Land Rover is its much faster and more comprehensive infotainment system, complete with large touchscreen, wi-fi, secure vehicle tracking, real-time nav and over-the-air updates. 

48 volts and hybrid assistance

Noteworthy tech set to feature on the new 2021 Range Rover includes a 48-volt system as an enabler for mild hybrids, air suspension with increased bandwidth, steel as well as carbon-ceramic disc brake options, electric power steering in combination with Level 2 assisted motorway driving and eyes-off Level 3 in the making, Bentayga/DBX-style active anti-roll bars (carried over from the last gen), a locking rear diff, Terrain Response 3 off-road electronics and a choice of even larger wheel and tyre sizes which currently max out at 22 inches.

The L460 Range Rover (2021) is underpinned by the latest Jaguar Land Rover MLA tech architecture

In addition, the next Range Rover will take connectivity to another level by integrating the vehicle into the user’s personalised digital microcosm. Be it by voice activation, pressing a button or using the tailor-made app, you can prepare for your next journey, whether that’s advice from the car (about when and where to fill up), route planning, road pricing (the app will pre-pay the congestion charge, if required), parking (pre-booked, pre-paid) or a spot of off-roading (adjusting tyre pressures).

At the same time, the next Range Rover will be more comfortable than ever, offering heated and ventilated active-support massage seats all round, together with adjustable surface heating for door panels and both armrests. The goal is sustainable luxury with a twist – the opulence buyers expect but without the guilt that comes hand-in-hand with acres of leather, felled timber and conspicuous excess.

New 2021 Range Rover: engines and specs expected

Mild hybridisation with e-boosting will be standard across the board, except on the two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Expect these models:

  • Entry PHEV  300bhp P300 2.0-litre four in combination with a 140bhp e-motor
  • PHEV+  394bhp/406lb ft Ingenium 3.0-litre six, standard 20kWh battery, 140bhp e-motor for a total output of 534bhp and 502lb ft of torque 
  • Mild-hybrid  3.0-litre six detuned to 355bhp
  • Diesel  JLR's new mild-hybrid 3.0 diesel straight six is 80kg lighter than old V8: D300 (296bhp/479lb ft) or D350 (345bhp/516lb ft)
  • V8 petrol  BMW-sourced 4.4-litre V8 range-topper good for 520bhp

CAR's guide to the best hybrids and PHEVs

Range Rover Sport and Road Rover to follow

As with today’s range, the Range Rover will be closely matched to a whole family of large Land Rovers. The new Range Rover Sport, codenamed L461, is due to see the light of day in late 2021 - the same year as the new Range Rover, unless the fall-out from Covid conspires to push the two launches further apart. But that, as they say, is a story for another day.

More Land Rover scoops and spyshots by CAR magazine

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel