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While still famous for premium-trimmed vehicles with off-road capabilities, Land Rover has taken a hard left onto luxury avenue in recent years. Rumors are stirring that the brand has sacrificed some of its utilitarian edge for creature comforts — especially with the release of the ultra-stylish Range Rover Velar.

With the Defender yet to peak its headlamps over the horizon (and rumored to be electrified), JLR is hoping to get back some of its overlanding chops by affixing the SVX badge onto more models. However, the company’s Special Vehicle Operations unit will only touch Land Rovers — allowing Range Rover to maintain its suburban chicness while not muddying the two brands’ identities. 

In an interview with Autocar, Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern explained the SVX label would be appropriate for Land Rovers but wouldn’t work on something like the Velar. However, Jaguar design director Ian Callum said he thought an off-road specific trim might be a good fit for Jag SUVs, too.

“We don’t talk a lot about the [off-road] ability of our cars because they’re road-biased,� Callum said. “But they could have that capability as we have the tech in the group. I see the opportunity – if Land Rover can do SVR, we can do SVX.�

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Still, on-road performance variants like the Range Rover Sport SVR are a clear example of Land Rover shirking its perceived “responsibility” to offer go-anywhere models that are as capable in mud as they are on pavement. Last month, the brand unveiled the extremely powerful 2019 Discovery SVX as if it were a direct response to people claiming the automaker had lost its edge.

In truth, Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations unit is trying to more-clearly differentiate certain models through a trio of trims. SVR badges denote performance variants, while SV Autobiography indicates super-premium luxury options and SVX hints at rugged off-roading capabilities. In the end, these trims don’t change what Land Rover is so much as it helps shape what its vehicles can be to the consumer willing to expend more capital. The performance arm hasn’t done much with the SVX badge as of yet. But JLR executives expect several Land Rover models to undergo the knife and emerge ready for rock crawling — in style, of course.

McGovern held fast on the idea that the automaker is still a luxury brand but that Discovery SVX offers “premium durability” and off-roading capabilities we expect the Defender to pursue as well. “We have to stop thinking about function in a durable way,â€� he explained. “When you’re buying into the brand, you’re buying a premium product.â€�

“It’s not cheap,� McGovern continued. “There are sophisticated surfaces, the premium durability. You think of stripping down to basics [for extreme off-road vehicles] but I don’t think people want that any more.�

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[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]