The new Land Rover Defender has been officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Three years after production of the original model ceased, the iconic 4×4 name is back on a brand-new model which Land Rover says will offer the unstoppable off-road ability of its predecessor with technology, design and comfort fit for the 21st century.
Available to order right now, the new Defender will initially cost from £45,240 with cheaper short-wheelbase and commercial vehicles joining the range later.
Land Rover has confirmed that there will be two wheelbase options for the Defender. The standard 110 (with a 119-inch wheelbase) will be available from launch and will be joined in mid-2020 by a short wheelbase 90 (102 inches), priced at around £40,000. The commercial versions of both will also arrive in 2020 starting at roughly £35,000 before VAT.
There’s no doubting the inspiration for the new model came from the original Defender.
There’s a little more curve to the panels and a lot more angle to the windscreen but its relationship to the original is clear. The silhouette is the same tall, square shape with high sills, square arches and short overhangs, and everywhere you look are nods to the old car but with a 21st century sheen. From the flat nose and circular headlights to the safari windows in the roof and the spare wheel mounted on the side-hinged rear door, everything screams “this is a Defender”.
The interior is more of a change but retains the upright, flat dashboard, here comprising an exposed full-width magnesium alloy beam that forms part of the car’s structure and acts as a mount for the 10-inch touchscreen and high-set gear lever.
In another nod to the early Defenders an optional central jump seat can be added to the front row, giving the 90 six-seater capability and the 110 up to seven seats.
There are also touches designed to give the Defender a rugged, functional feel. Parts of the interior bodywork and fixings are left exposed and there are rubberised “hose-down” floor mats and strategically placed grab handles.
The image is slightly undone by options like the open-grain walnut veneer and Windsor leather upholstery available on high-end models.
Unlike Defenders of the past which used a body-on-frame construction, the new model features an aluminium monocoque as part of the D7x architecture. As well as saving weight, Land Rover says this is three times more rigid than a body-on-frame vehicle, aiding in the Defender’s stated aim of being the best 4×4 on the market.
Permanent four-wheel-drive is a given with the Defender and comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, two-speed transfer box, locking centre differential, active locking rear differential and all-independent suspension with passive coil or active air suspension.
The Defender features the latest multi-mode Terrain Response system for managing the four-wheel-drive and matching it to the conditions and, for the first time, lets experienced off-road drivers configure the setup to suit their specific needs.
There are a lot of numbers flying around relating to the Defender’s capabilities so here are just the highlights: 291mm of ground clearance; 38-degree approach and 40-degree departure angles; 900mm wading depth; 3,500kg towing capacity, 900kg payload; 300kg static roof load; 500mm of axle articulation, up to 145mm of lift from the air suspension and up to 2,380 litres of cargo space.
Land Rover says that the Defender’s capabilities – tested everywhere from the heat of the Mojave Desert to the sub-zero temperatures of the Arctic and the African savannah – put it in a class of its own. It also claims new adaptive dynamics mean it has solved the old vehicle’s problematic on-road manners to make it comfortable and refined even on long journeys.
From launch, the Defender will come with two petrol and two diesel options.
A 2.0-litre diesel will offer either 197bhp or 237bhp. Both offer 317lb/ft of torque, economy of 37.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 199g/km, with the 237bhp just under a second quicker to 60mph.
The entry-level petrol is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit producing 296bhp/295lb/ft and promising 0-60mph in 7.7 seconds with economy of 28.5mpg.
The second petrol option is a 395bhp 3.0-litre, six-cylinder mild hybrid which does 0-60mph in a very un-Defender-like 6.1 seconds and offers better economy that the 2.0-litre, at 29.4mpg.
Later in 2020 a plug-in hybrid variant will join the line-up.
The Defender sees the debut of Land Rover’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system which comes with a 10-inch touchscreen. Land Rover says this is its simplest, fastest and most intuitive system and it comes with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and over-the-air updates as standard.
A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and head-up display with video capability offer everything from speed information to axle articulation graphics and the Defender also makes use of clever camera technology to offer the GroundView “transparent bonnet” and ClearSight rear view mirror, which give uninterrupted views of otherwise obscured areas outside the car.
The Defender also features all the driver assistance system familiar to modern SUV owners, including autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and Speed Limiter functions, a driver condition monitor and 360 parking aid.
The Defender will come in six trims – Defender, S, SE, HSE, First Edition (for one year only) and top of the range Defender X.
Basic Defenders will get steel wheels; LED lights all round; dual-zone climate control; auto lights and wipers; heated seats, mirrors and windscreen and the 10-inch Pivo Pro system. Long-wheelbase models also get air suspension and adaptive dynamics as standard.
More expensive models will get 19 or 20-inch alloys; fancier seats, keyless entry; a better stereo; matrix adaptive headlights; fabric or glass sliding roof and the most advanced off-road systems.
Upholstery will range from basic cloth to part or full leather and even a Steelcut Premium Textile that’s 30 per cent wool.
Personalisation is set to be big on the new Defender with 12 wheel designs ranging from 18-inch painted steels to 22-inch alloys, and a broad spectrum of standard and metallic paint finishes. Three of the exterior colours – Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone and Pangea Green – will be offered with a protective film wrap that will absorb scratches and can be quickly removed and replaced.
Four accessory packs have been created to match different uses, working up in ruggedness and practicality. The showy Urban pack adds shiny trim and big wheels while Country adds some body protection, portable rinse system with shower and hose, and loadspace partition. Above that the Adventure pack features the rinse system, integrated air compressor and side-mounted external gear carrier and the Explorer is aimed at the real off-roaders, with a snorkel, roof rack, external gear carrier and options side steps, roof ladder and underbody protection.
There’s also a host of individual accessories ranging from remote controlled winches and roof racks to inflatable awnings and roof tents.