New £25k Land Rover to be followed by luxo-Defender

Omega-Arc underpins the new Tata Harrier, which was launched at the start of 2019. This is a cost-reduced but modernised version of Land Rover’s D8 steel platform used by the original Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport.

Reports from India say the engineering of the Omega-Arc benefited from input from Tata Steel, which helped reduce costs without affecting vehicle safety. The architecture will also accommodate a small battery pack, allowing the use of plug-in hybrid drivetrains.

The previous attempt to bring the L860 to market was also said to use this platform and the model would have been built alongside the Tata Harrier in India, although in a much more sophisticated form.

However, in January 2017, the Indian business press reported that the project had been cancelled by Land Rover in the wake of the Brexit vote and fears of a greater trade protectionism by then-new US president Donald Trump.

But reports from India say the Omega architecture was designed to be used by both Tata and Land Rover. For example, while it has one set of rear suspension mounting points, the Harrier is able to employ a basic beam axle whereas the new Land Rover will use a proper multi-link rear axle for both front and all-wheel-drive versions.

The L860 will also get a Land Rover-specific front suspension system and the front subframe will be significantly more refined than in the Harrier, which retails from around £18,000 in India.

The upshot is that the production L860 will have a substantially new platform, and plug-in capability and, in pursuit of maximum fuel economy, it’s expected to be launched with the upcoming 1.5-litre three-cylinder Ingenium engines in both turbocharged and mild-hybrid forms and most likely as front-wheel drive.

More powerful four-cylinder engines and all-wheel drive are entirely possible for the L860, but Land Rover will want to be careful not to undermine sales of the Discovery Sport.

A plug-in three-cylinder version is an option because of its potential to deliver low CO2 figures under the WLTP testing regime, something that would help offset the high CO2 figures of the larger Range Rover and Defender models.

With costs at the forefront of the project, it’s thought that the L860 will be built at Land Rover’s new plant in Slovakia, which benefits from much lower employee costs than in the UK and is located close to east European component suppliers. If all goes to plan, mules of the new vehicle should appear in early 2020 before the model is unveiled in the third quarter of 2021.