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Land Rover plotting baby Defender to take on Suzuki Jimny

Land Rover has Suzuki in its sights.

Yes, you read that right, Land Rover is preparing to take on Suzuki and its pint-sized Jimny off-roader with an all-new baby Defender. According to a report in Britain’s Autocar, Land Rover wants to push into the compact SUV space with a new entry-level model with a starting price of £25,000 (approx. $48,000).

That would give the brand a rival to the likes of Jeep Compass, BMW X1 and Volvo XC40, but given its likely strong off-road credentials, the Jimny will be the closest competitor in the truest sense.

While clearly aimed at a new audience than the rest of the Land Rover range, the baby Defender (although it’s unlikely to wear the Defender nameplate) will still feature the same straight-edged design of the new model in a bid to keep a family look.

Technical details of this new model are still under wraps, but it’s expected to hit its aggressive price point by utilising underpinnings from parent company Tata. The Indian brand has created its own vehicle platform, dubbed Omega-Arc, which is actually based on the original Range Rover Evoque/Discovery Sport.

A smaller model would not only help expand Land Rover’s market but would also likely see a reduction in the brand’s average fleet CO2 emissions; an important factor with every-tightening regulations in Europe.

The engines will almost certainly be sourced from Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium family, with the most likely candidates being the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol units and possibly the three-cylinder plug-in hybrid found in the Evoque PHEV.

Timing for the baby Defender isn’t official yet but it’s expected to hit the market in 2021, which means a thinly-disguised production version could debut as a concept sometime in 2020.