Land Rover Defender preview
The rebirth of an icon. After almost 70 years in production, Land Rover killed off the original Defender (which actually only received that honorific in the 1990s; prior to that, it was simply the Land Rover Series I, II(a) or III, or the 90 or 110). During nearly seven decades in production, the original understandably built up a sizeable and fanatical following, so replacing it was no easy task – especially as the Jaguar Land Rover group has an increasingly large number of SUVs upon whose toes the second-gen Defender may step.
What will its rivals be?
Well, aside from some of those aforementioned in-house relations – it’s hard to imagine that the Defender won’t be pinching sales from the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar F-Pace, and maybe even the larger Discovery in its plusher specifications – the Land Rover’s rivals will be widespread. In its most basic form, the Defender aims to be utilitarian and workhorse-like, as with its predecessor, so vehicles like one-tonne pick-up trucks, the Toyota Land Cruiser and SsangYong Rexton; and yet, it’s unlikely to be cheap to buy and will, with more luxuries fitted, become an alternative to any large premium SUV you car to think of – the BMWs X3 and X5, for instance, or the Mercedes GLC and GLE models, Audi’s Q5 and Q7, the Lexus RX, the Porsche Cayenne… and so on.
Any tech info?
Four engines will be offered on the Defender from launch, split into two diesels and two petrol options, one of which has electrical assistance. These are badged D200, D240, P300 and P400. Each one’s letter and number refer to the fuel it will use and the horsepower output, meaning that every single new Defender will be considerably more powerful than the last official original model, which had a 120hp diesel. The most potent has a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine and an electric supercharger, powered by a 48-volt hybrid system, resulting in 400hp and 550Nm. All models will have an eight-speed twin-clutch gearbox and four-wheel drive with low-range ratios.
What will the range be like?
Land Rover will sell the Defender in 90 (short-wheelbase) and 110 (long-wheelbase forms), as well as three main trim grades (regular Defender, the First Edition and then the X). To these options, four accessory packs can be selected, entitled Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban. Each of these adds different, distinct bits of equipment to give the Defender even more character.
Stratospheric. Land Rover couldn’t keep making the old Defender – it was too unsafe and too polluting, given its basic architecture was so old – but plenty of fans kind of wish it had. And already, there has been some concern as to whether this new one can live up to the fanboys’ wild expectations.