Defender, Range Rover, And Discovery Will Join Jaguar As Standalone Brands

Opinion / 13 Comments

Here's what we want to see from each of them.

Read in this article:

As part of a broader electrification announcement yesterday, Jaguar Land Rover revealed that Land Rover was to be dropped as a brand, with the focus squarely on Range Rover, Defender, Discovery, and Jaguar as its four core nameplates.

This will bring to an end a 75-year history of the Land Rover brand, although it officially only became an automaker in 1978.

"Pivotal to our Reimagine strategy is the formation of the House of Brands, which is a natural evolution, with a purpose of elevating and amplifying the uniqueness of our characterful British marques," said Chief Creative Officer Prof. Gerry McGovern. "Our ultimate ambition is to build truly emotionally engaging experiences for our clients that, over time, will build long-term high equity for our brands and long-term sustainability for JLR."

But what can we expect from each brand? And perhaps more importantly, what will it take for each brand to succeed?


Defender: The Off-Road Warrior

The Defender nameplate has become iconic in its own right and is perhaps the only model name that can stand alongside the Wrangler when it comes to off-road heritage. To make the most of a Defender brand, JLR needs a strong lineup of off-road models that go beyond the current Defender 90, 110, and 130 variants that are nothing more than short- and long-wheelbase versions of the same SUV.

Models we want to see from the brand include:

  • Defender Sport - a small off-road crossover with all-wheel drive to rival the Ford Bronco Sport. Since the Defender has already proven how effective a unibody SUV can be off-road, this won't be an issue. It will also be an important model to rival a similar SUV from Ineos that's currently in the pipeline.
  • Defender EV - The world is going electric, and with the Jeep Recon arriving as an electric Wrangler alternative in 2026, an electric Defender submodel, preferably with unique styling, is a must.
  • Defender Pickup - A classic body style for the Defender, a pickup variant would enable the brand to go toe-to-toe with the Jeep Gladiator. Versions could include base models to rival the Jeep, while high-end derivatives could potentially poach buyers from the Mercedes G-Class.
  • Defender SVR - Ford has a Bronco Raptor, and Defender needs a real rival to this. We're not just talking about a V8 model, but a bonafide desert runner. JLR has the tools to make this a reality, with Bowler now being owned by JLR. Bowler's experience in turning Land Rovers into rally-ready racers is just what Defender needs to make a true Raptor Rival. We've even scooped suspension tech that could used in such a model.

Discovery: The Mainstream Family Brand

The Discovery family used to be the staple for Land Rover, but between the horrible styling of the Discovery 5 and the massive success of the Defender, we can't see Discovery living on as a brand that prioritizes off-road chops. While Defender will focus on capability, we foresee Discovery becoming mainstream and dropping the off-road pretense.

This was already the case with the Discovery Sport, but we see it becoming a dominating trait for the brand, where these models will be offered in FWD and AWD variants but without low-range transfer cases and fancy air suspension.

Instead, the main Discovery models will rival the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Mazda CX-90 - a cut above mainstream but not quite premium - and be slightly more affordable than the current models. The Discovery Sport will set the tone for the brand.

Frankly, we don't see much of a future for Discovery as a standalone marque. Had this split happened a decade ago, Discovery would've been an ideal EV brand, but as it stands, things don't look good.


Range Rover: Premium Meets Luxury

Range Rover has been perceived by many as a standalone brand for years now; the official announcement seems like a mere formality.

Range Rover will spearhead JLR's off-road trio and its electrification plans, with the first all-electric Range Rover arriving imminently and order books opening later this year. Arguably the most successful arm of JLR's current businesses, things should continue as normal for Range Rover, which will be the premium arm and rival to the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

Range Rover will not focus wholly on electrification, and will retain both the EMA (Electric Modular Architecture) and the MLA (Modular Longitudinal Architecture) currently used for Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. That means combustion, hybrid, and electric models will allow the brand to target a broader audience.

2022 Land Rover New Range Rover Rear View Driving Land Rover
2022 Land Rover New Range Rover Frontal Aspect Land Rover

To this end, there are core elements that need to be focused on:

  • Quality - Range Rover needs to make sure that its materials and build quality are on par with its German rivals, which means less parts-sharing with the Discovery lineup.
  • Electrification - While the JLR group is becoming an "electric first" company, Range Rover will be the spearhead of this. We expect to see a BMW iX rival first but also challengers for the Mercedes-EQ SUVs, big and small. Nameplates like the Evoque are ideal candidates for electrification, as their target demographic is typically younger and trendier, being willing to adopt new technologies. An electric Velar and a full-size electric Range Rover will create a strong three-pronged approach for the brand's electric endeavors.
  • Luxury - Range Rover will need to lean heavily on the Autobiography models in its lineup, using these to rival Mercedes-Maybach and BMW Alpina. The core models can be great, but if the range-toppers are not providing a bridge between premium and ultra-luxury, then the Range Rover brand won't reach its peak.
2021-2023 Land Rover Range Rover Velar Aft View Land Rover
Front View Land Rover

Jaguar: An Electric Porsche Rival

With the XE and XF, Jaguar failed to rival BMW. The products were good but lacked the polish and refinement of the Germans. The XJ was always fun to drive, but it fell out of touch with the industry. When the electric XJ replacement was shelved, things started looking dire for the brand. The I-Pace was good but has since been usurped by just about everyone, meaning Jaguar relies too heavily on the F-Pace (a great rival to the Porsche Macan) and the aging F-Type sports car.

The latter two will arguably dictate where the brand goes now, and we see it becoming a rival to Porsche as it transitions to an all-electric brand.

As part of the announcement, Jaguar confirmed its next electric model would be a four-door electric GT car - similar to the Porsche Panamera - with up to 430 miles of electric range and more power than any previous Jaguar. That means more than the 592-horsepower XE SV Project 8.

The new $120,000 model will be built on a new electric architecture called JEA (Jaguar Electric Architecture) and will begin deliveries in 2025, followed by two more "reimagined Jaguars."


For these, we'd want Jaguar to reinvent the I-Pace with new technologies to replace the current one and the F-Pace when its life cycle ends. But two models won't be enough to keep the brand afloat. The F-Type needs replacing, and recent trademarks suggest that the J-Type name is still in the cards. This would complete Jaguar's three-model plan.

But the long-rumored J-Pace halo SUV would also be a welcome addition to the lineup, especially with Porsche plotting an ultra-luxurious three-row SUV. This is unlikely for now, but Jaguar would be remiss not to give it serious thought.

As sedans have fallen out of favor, we don't see the XE, XF, or XJ having a future. Jaguar will build sports cars, four-door GTs, and SUVs - just like Porsche.


Join The Discussion



Related Cars

To Top