The Land Rover Defender was discontinued in 2016 after a production run that spanned an impressively long time period. Rumours ran around that Land Rover was planning a return of the iconic bare-bones SUV.
The firm itself confirmed that there was indeed a new Defender being developed, due in 2019. And here it is, the all-new Land Rover Defender. Has the company managed to build a modern UV that stays true to the attributes of its moniker?
Boxy design, high ground clearance, steel wheels, and a legendary moniker: the new Land Rover Defender is a true reborn icon.
Land Rover had a lot riding on its shoulders when it announced the coming of a new-age Defender. After all, maintaining an icon's legacy is no easy task. For the time being, it seems, the company has managed to do justice to the legendary 'Defender' nameplate.
The original Defender had an unapologetically utilitarian look. Boxy and angled, it was primarily designed to maximise cargo space. From farmers to overland adventurers, the Defender was used by a variety of professionals. Land Rover clearly knows this, and has launched two body types of the new Defender: 90 and 110. The Defender 90 is a three-door, two-row SUV while the 110 adds two doors and a third row to the package.
Land Rover Chief Design Officer Gerard “Gerry” McGovern said, “The new Defender must be respectful of its past, but not harnessed by it.” And the design team has taken his words to heart. Both the Defenders share the same formula of a short-wheelbase SUV with a rugged, go-anywhere attitude. But the new Defender is clearly modern, designed to reflect current trends as well as be safer.
Land Rover has harked back to the first-generation Defender on the new one with subtle design cues that are instantly recognisable as of the old one.
The new Land Rover Defender is clearly at odds with its elder counterpart in this regard. Land Rover has packed the new SUV with its suite of off-roading essentials like bumper cameras, Terrain Response 2, automatic transmission, wade-worthy exhaust and intake, and strong under-armour to take bashes and hits going over the rough stuff. But the highlight of its technological prowess are the 85 ECUs (yes indeed) that monitor the goings-on inside and around the car.
Seen here are the two body types: Defender 90 and Defender 110.
With a comprehensive electronics and driver assistance package geared toward scaling any obstacle you are presented with, the 2020 Land Rover Defender stays true to its hardy, unstoppable roots. The thing to understand here is that giving a new life to a vehicle as iconic, and with as large a base of fans and owners, is not an easy task by any means. That Land Rover has cleverly merged a legendary design with modern requirements is a feat unto itself.
For the first time, a mild-hybrid drivetrain will be powering an SUV wearing the ‘Defender’ badge. At the time of launch, you can choose between a range of engines, and a variety of accessory packs for both the 90 and 110 trims. The firm has also promised that it will launch a plug-in hybrid variant soon. The new Defender is properly modern and environmentally-conscious. Another example of respecting the past, but not getting limited by it.
The first Land Rover Defender was one of the handful of vehicles to make it into the modern age without substantial changes or updates. Spawning as many as 38 body types and catering to more than 75 percent of world markets, the Defender nameplate is one that demands instant respect.
To tweak such a massive icon takes a lot of courage, responsibility, and insanity to a certain degree. Looking at the brand-new pair of Defenders, it looks like Land Rover has made it. Only time will tell how the world responds to the new SUV, but it looks like the Defender is back for sure.