British automaker certainly has the know-how to make it a compelling possibility

Land Rover has been around long enough that nobody should ever question the automaker’s SUV pedigree. But as it is in the auto industry, there’s enough room for even Land Rover to improve on its current status. That appears to be what the company is thinking about these days with the explosion in popularity of the ultra-luxury SUV segment. While the market is still in its infancy, the Bentley Bentayga has been killing it, and Land Rover appears to be keen on joining in on the fun with its own ultra-luxury SUV.

Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern even alluded to this, telling Automotive News Europe that the company is open to the idea of developing a legitimate range-topping model of the Range Rover that can compete directly with the Bentayga. McGovern even points out that the Range Rover sub-brand has a “big expanse across its price range,” making it easy to step up its game with a model that falls in the range of the extremely popular Bentley SUV. A look at the price disparity between the top-of-the-line Range Rover LWB (starts at $140,995) and the Bentley Bentayga ($229,100) and it’s easy to see why Land Rover is so intrigued by the idea of an ultra luxury Range Rover. The question now is whether the U.K.-based automaker will follow through on these perceived plans. A business case can certainly be made considering how the ultra-luxury SUV market is shaping up to be, and if there’s one company that can legitimately say it has the tools and the pedigree to make it happen, it’s Land Rover.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Don’t underestimate Land Rover

2015 Land Rover Range Rover LWB - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Some might even say that the British automaker is in over its head if it thinks it can compete against Bentley, Lamborghini, and Rolls-Royce.

It’s easy to scoff at what Land Rover is getting itself into when it decides to compete in the ultra-luxury SUV segment. Some might even say that the British automaker is in over its head if it thinks it can compete against Bentley, Lamborghini, and Rolls-Royce – three automakers that either already have SUVs in the $200,000 range, or are about to in the next few years.

Jumping into that market may not be difficult from a brand and prestige stand-point, but Land Rover will have to develop ways to justify selling a range-topping Range Rover that’s going to cost above $200,000. Doing so would be a huge step-up in price compared to what it’s current top-of-the-line model already is. I mean, what can Land Rover really do to justify a move?

2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
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2017 Bentley Bentayga High Resolution Exterior
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The Range Rover’s power output tops out at 550 horsepower whereas the Bentayga clears 600 horsepower quite easily.

The most obvious answer would be to develop an SUV that packs power in the vicinity of what the Bentayga has. Remember, the Range Rover’s power output tops out at 550 horsepower whereas the Bentayga clears 600 horsepower quite easily. Same thing with the Urus and the Cullinan, two other ultra-luxury SUVs that Land Rover will have to deal with. Then there’s the case for the amenities, something that neither Bentley nor Rolls-Royce have any problems dishing out. Land Rover has shown it’s capable of upping the ante in this regard and it might have to if it’s really serious about positioning a range-topping Range Rover that can compete against the Bentayga, Urus, and Cullinan.

This isn’t to say that Land Rover’s reported ambition isn’t impossible. It very much is capable of pulling it off because it has the pedigree to make it work. But the question is whether a more upscale Range Rover would be enough to sway potential Bentayga buyers to turn around and choose that model instead. It’s an interesting dilemma, for sure, and one that I’m confident Land Rover will look really hard into before making a decision.

I for one am hopeful that it does it. I think it’s a good move and a long overdue one. Now it’s all about making sure that Land Rover thinks this move through before taking that dive. It’s capable of doing it and if the automaker plays it right, the wait for an ultra-luxury Range Rover could be coming to an end really soon.

Read our driven review on the Range Rover LWB here.

Source: Auto News Europe (subscription required)

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