GRR

Land Rover's years-long love affair with the two-door

22nd January 2018
Bob Murray

Would you buy a two-door SUV? History records the answer to that question as a resounding “No”. From Isuzu Vehicross through early Toyota RAV4s to Suzuki X-90s, SUVs with fewer than four passenger doors have struggled at best and at worst gone down as some of motoring’s biggest flops.

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The reason is always the same: the most practical and user-friendly cars on the road are always more practical and user-friendly when the people heading for the back seats don’t have to climb in past the front seats. Obvious really, especially these days when SUV increasingly stands for luxury and comfort. 

All of which makes Land Rover’s predilection for two doors a bit of a mystery. It’s been an itch they just can’t stop scratching, despite seeing the error of their ways each time they do one. Concept cars are often shown in two-door form – they are sexier looking – but by the time they reach production the manufacturers always see sense and revert to a four-door body. All except Land Rover that is.

The first Range Rover in 1970 was famously available only as a two-door. As a work of art to grace the Louvre in Paris, sublime. As a capacious family hauler, less than ideal. The two-door Classic shape still lasted 11 years before Land Rover got round to adding the back doors – something aftermarket body customisers had been doing for years prior because owners wanted it.

The first Freelander was launched as a five-door – and a three-door. The three-door was also a convertible. Two reasons for not wanting it then.

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When the Range Rover Evoque concept came out everyone said wow, what a looker – knowing full well that by the time it reached production those looks would inevitably come second to practicality and it would sprout a full set of doors. But it didn’t. Both three- and five-door versions (and both fine looking, it has to be said) were launched. Even then Land Rover couldn’t help itself, adding a strict two-door version in the form of the Evoque convertible.

History says don’t do it. Its customers say don’t do it. Its rivals don’t do it. But despite all this Land Rover has been a company blinded in love by the two-door. And we are secretly very glad they are.

We also have a very strong feeling that, as the company continues to chase the SUV market into ever more upmarket and hitherto undreamed-of corners, it’s a love affair that’s far from over yet…

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