Two-Door, Short Wheelbase Land Rover Range Rover Caught Testing in Moab (UPDATE)
Land Rover canceled plans for a two-door Range Rover earlier this year—or did it?
The automotive world let out a collective sigh back in January when Jaguar-Land Rover pulled the plug on the two-door, $300,000 Range Rover SV Coupe. What could have been a glorious return to the model's roots combined with the flash of modern luxury instead fizzled out on a balance sheet. So why was a two-door, short wheelbase Range Rover spotted in the off-road mecca of Moab, Utah on Wednesday?
(UPDATE: We received the following from Jaguar-Land Rover in response to our questions about the truck: "Jaguar Land Rover runs a wide range of engineering and technology development programs all around the world. Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on the specific nature of these programs." Figures.)
Photographer Bryan Strong caught the SUV earlier this week in the Hell's Revenge trail parking lot, one of the more popular off-road routes in Moab. It appears to be a modified Range Rover Sport sitting on a shortened chassis with its air suspension raised to its highest level. Look closely and you can make out the vestigial handle on what used to be the rear door, but the overall profile makes it clear that this is essentially a two-door Range Rover, the likes of which have been missing since the early 1990s. It's especially striking parked next to a full-length Range Rover Sport.
What we can't say for sure is whether this actually heralds a return of a shorty Range Rover. Some necessary context: Land Rover was in Moab this week to test the new Defender, both the two-door and four-door versions. Though this particular SUV obviously doesn't bear the new model's blocky styling, it's entirely possible, even likely that it's a powertrain mule designed to test the truck's running gear. This is a pretty common tactic in development—just check out Ford's bizarro Bronco mule spotted earlier this month, which looks like a smushed Ford Ranger.
Yet there's a tiny glimmer of hope for those holding out for something greater. For one, it's a bit odd that Land Rover is still running around with the mule considering they have full-bodied development Defenders testing at this point. That alone isn't conclusive. But consider the fact that this new Defender is planned as a global vehicle—and with independent air suspension at all four corners, it'll be far more civilized on pavement as well. If Land Rover is to maximize its return on the all-new platform, why wouldn't it make sense try a fancier top if it can be made to fit?
Testbed or not, this is the first time we've seen a short-wheelbase Range Rover produced by Land Rover. Now, spend your weekend dreaming of a world where this becomes reality.
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