It’s no small secret that Land Rover’s defiantly agricultural Defender is set for the mother of all paradigm shifts.
Conceived as a vehicle for farmers before finding popularity as a military workhorse, the vehicle that eventually became known as the Land Rover Defender has doggedly refused to adopt civilised things like independent suspension, a monocoque chassis or anything resembling a modern infotainment system. For many of its fans, they preferred it that way.
But that strategy ends when the all-new next-generation Defender gets revealed later this year, with a September global unveiling now confirmed.
“We’ve got Defender coming up later in the year, which will be huge,” said Jaguar Land Rover Australia spokesperson Tim Krieger. “There will be something around Frankfurt, but whether it’s at the motor show or whether it’s out of show, we’re still figuring that out.
“The car will be revealed around September, but we won’t see customer deliveries [in Australia] until early next year.”
It’s no small secret that the Defender will mutate into a far more modern offroader in its next iteration, but from Jaguar Land Rover’s point of view, that’s going to be a good thing as far as broadening the model’s appeal beyond a hardcore off-road enthusiast audience.
In one fell swoop, the Defender will go from a ladder-frame chassis and dual live-axle suspension to a monocoque platform shared with other Land Rover/Range Rover products, with independent suspension not just at the front but at the rear as well. It’ll be a high-tech machine too, with modern engines under the bonnet and the availability of air suspension too.
“It’ll be very interesting, the reaction. Until it’s revealed it’s kind of hard to know, but Gerry (McGovern, Land Rover’s design director) has said the car will be as capable and as tough as the previous model. It’ll have the core attributes of a Defender, absolutely,” Krieger continued.
“Australia was one of the few markets that continued to sell the old Defender right to the end, so in a sense the brand name is very strong in Australia because we haven’t had an extensive hiatus from Defender.”
“It’s a tough one – you’re almost damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Krieger replied when asked if the next-gen replacement would keep Defender die-hards happy. “You want to bring a new audience into the brand so it’s a big challenge for the design guys, but we’ve got dealers and others who’ve seen the car and are really excited by it.”
We’ll get our first official look at the new Defender in September, but until then what are your thoughts on the hard-core offroader’s abrupt change of direction? Is Land Rover selling its soul, or are the new customers that it expects to win over going to ensure the survival of the brand? Have your say in the comments below.