Land Rover are set to bring back one of the iconic names for the brand; the Defender.
Truth be told, there’s a solid case for arguing that they got it wrong when they stopped production in January 2016, even Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralph Speth admits that it was “one of my toughest days to stop the Defender, the icon”, but the question remains – are they replacing it with a lifestyle soft-roader, or will they do the name proud?
The original Defender can trace it’s roots back for decades – really, it started with the ‘Series’ vehicles that went on to become the 90 and 110, which of course developed in to the Defender in the early 80s, and it was Land Rover’s bread and butter, this was Land Rover-ing at its simple best; you could park it in the grounds of the local Polo club, or climb a mountain in it, this was Land Rover.
Despite the rugged, simple nature of the Defender, it found love from all corners of the world, from all parts of society; whether that was Fred Dibnah MBE carting around his ladders or bits of steam engine, through to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth roving around her Balmoral estate.
The great news is that the new Defender should be exactly the same, just updated for the modern age and wearing fancy clothing.
Industry rumours started circulating last year about the new Defender, and of course Land Rover were tight-lipped about what they wanted to achieve (perhaps in part due to the expectations that it must live up to), but with a whole host of ‘spy shots’ being released as teasers, it’s pretty clear that the new model is targeted at the traditional Defender buyer; someone who wants the ultimate off-roader, combined with a soupcon of cool and a dash of heritage.
Land Rover knows that for it to stand a chance of becoming a worthy successor, the new Defender has to work off-road, and that’s why they’re currently allowing the Kenyan wildlife conservation charity, Tusk, to use (and abuse) it for their day-to-day activities in a real-world environment, whether that’s tracking lions, hauling equipment or ferrying passengers, and that’s just one small part of their testing.
Other testing schedules and arenas include the traditional lanes of Eastnor (the spiritual home of Land Rover), rocky trails through Death Valley in the USA and the sand dunes of Dubai, with temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees Celsius right up to faint-inducing 48 degrees Celsius, by the time testing is finished, the new Defender will have undergone more than 45,000 individual tests, and covered around one million miles (currently around 750,000).
We’d love to be able to give you the ‘scoop’ on what to expect, but with such a new model, the specifications and differences are vast, it’s much easier to explain everything in person – feel free to come and chat with one of our friendly professionals to learn more.
With that said, just like Land Rover themselves, we can give you some teasers …
The bodywork is all aluminium, and it’s built atop of an aluminium chassis, which of course helps to lessen the weight, improve economy and increase the quality of the ride – this definitely won’t feel like a traditional Defender to drive.
There are some styling cues taken from the ‘classic’ Defender, such as the side-hinged rear door, large flat bonnet and rear lighting, and there’s very clearly a design which comes from the Land Rover stable that we’ve grown to love over the recent years, and of course, there will be short and long-wheelbase versions, just like the 90 & 110.
Engine options still haven’t been released, but we’re expecting a mixture of diesel and unleaded, and we mustn’t forget that Land Rover have recently stated that all models from 2020 will have some form of electrification, so there’s every chance that we’ll see something like a 48V mild hybrid system.
Where the Defender should really differ from its predecessor though, is that it won’t be a ‘one size, fits all’ solution; Land Rover will be introducing a family of Defenders – the hardcore off-roader, something with a little more get up & go (to take on the likes of the Mercedes G-Wagon), and something with a little more comfort, at the very least.
But even then, it’s worth remembering that despite the bells and whistles, at the heart of any of the new models, will be the legendary off-road ability, for that’s the key to the success of the new Defender.
Land Rover still haven’t released launch dates, although we’re expecting to see the new model at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year. If you’d like to find out more, or register an interest for any forthcoming news, just drop us line or get in touch.