Land Rover is literally leaving no stone unturned with its all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender, with the prototypes now clocking up a combined 1.2 million kilometres of testing, ahead of an expected September 2019 official launch.
A lot hinges on the immediate sales success of this new Land Rover Defender – the first all-new incarnation since the 1948 launch of the original Series 1 – and the company is ensuring this new model offers the ultimate in off-road capability, as well as upping (significantly) the on-road performance of its iconic workhorse.
To celebrate World Land Rover Day, Land Rover has revealed that the final stage of testing will include a Defender prototype on location in Kenya’s Borana Conservancy as part of the Tusk Trust’s conservation work.
Here, it will perform all the duties expected of a remote-area vehicle, with plenty of towing, water crossings and challenging terrain to negotiate each day in the 14,000-hectare reserve.
It’s a real throwback to the brand’s long history of conservation work in remote areas and – hopefully – hints at this new Defender being as capable – or more so – than the vehicle it is replacing.
The prototype pictured here, adorned with Tusk Trust decals, offers the clearest view of what the new Defender’s profile will look like; previous images have given plenty of hints, but the camouflage panels have hidden things like the actual roofline and front end side profile, both of which are clearly visible here.
READ MORE: Land Rover Defender underbody shots
The new Defender borrows heavily from the Discovery 3 and 4 in terms of side profile but offers a more square rear-end, plus the rear-mount spare wheel of course.
The significant testing regime for the new Defender has included on-road at the famous Nürburgring, Germany, as well as desert terrain in Dubai and Moab (Utah), the Arctic countries and, of course, the 4x4 test facility at Eastnor Castle, in the UK.
We know there will be a short-wheelbase three-door and a long-wheelbase five-door Defender, but still not known is whether Land Rover will enter the burgeoning dual-cab ute market. Likewise, the Defender’s engine options are yet to be confirmed, but we envisage a range of Ingenium-based powerplants, including – possibly – even a three-cylinder, 1.5-litre jobbie, as well as a likely hybrid donk (most likely combined with a petrol engine).
READ MORE: All the info on the new Land Rover Defender
Even though (some) Landy-philes may be happy with the square-ish profile of this new incarnation, what is not going down so well with the green oval brigade is news that the new Defender won’t be manufactured in its spiritual home of Solihull, but rather in eastern Europe, at the company’s new hi-tech facility in Nitra, Slovakia.
Still, if it performs as well as Land Rover is promising, we don’t think too many potential Defender buyers will be concerned.