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Return of Defender Opens Door to Bargain-basement Land Rover, Report Claims

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Maybe Land Rover isn’t so removed from its former parent, after all. Whereas Ford saw the resurrection of the Bronco nameplate as an opportunity to butch up an Escape, Land Rover apparently sees the return of the storied Defender as an excuse to push its lineup downmarket.

No, not with the Defender itself — the range-topping SUV will only go upward in price, Autocar reports, but the opportunity lies in sprinkling some of its design magic over a new entry-level model.

It’s the same thing Ford chose to do with the so-called “Baby Bronco” due out next year. An Escape by any measure, the vehicle will don the Bronco’s design cues while adding a yet-to-be-defined level of off-road prowess. Two models for the cost of one!

At Land Rover, the idea is the same. According to Autocar, the brand hopes to release a Defender-inspired five-door model in 2021 to capitalize on the larger model’s heritage, at the same time creating a cheaper entry point into the brand. Starting price for the unnamed, unconfirmed model is pegged at the low $30k range (£25,000 for Brits).

In comparison, Land Rover’s current cheapest model, the Discovery Sport, starts at just under $39,000. A new platform sourced from parent corp Tata Motors is believed to underpin the upcoming model.

As the brand prepares to plumb for lower-end buyers, it also expects to capture more of the affluent green crowd. The Defender itself is expected to appear as a fully electric vehicle in the near future, carrying a sticker price north of £100,000. Luxed-up and free of emissions, the variant’s lofty sticker is necessary to keep the model profitable as Land Rover chases loaded European green buyers (lowering its fleetwide carbon footprint in the process).

The basic Defender returns to U.S. dealers next summer.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

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