After a lengthy gestation, and a number of leaks, Land Rover has revealed its all-new Defender to the world.
This is the first all-new update for the Defender nameplate since 1983, and just the third generation since it started production in 1948.
Initially, the Defender will be offered in two body styles, the three-door 90, and five-door 110, each available with a choice of four engines, two petrol and two diesels. In order to keep the engines breathing freely in dusty conditions, a side air intake is utilised for each.
The only petrol option coming to Australia will be the P400 mild-hybrid turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six producing 294kW/550Nm. Both four-cylinder diesel options, the D200 (147kW), and D240 (177kW) will be offered down under. A plug-in hybrid model is confirmed, and is expected to be revealed next year.
Power is sent to each corner of the vehicle via a permanent all-wheel drive set-up, with an eight-speed automatic transmission feeding power through a twin-speed transfer box, and locking differentials on each axle.
Now for the important information for the off-road enthusiasts. Both the 90 and 110 bodystyles have ground clearance of 291mm, an approach angle of 38 degrees, a departure angle of 40 degrees and a wading depth of 900mm. Land Rover claims it can conquer gradients of up to 45 degrees.
Gone is the body-on-frame design of old Defenders, with the L663 using an aluminium monocoque chassis. Land Rover named the platform D7x, with the x standing for extreme, apparently.
“A lot of people would say, ‘Oh, it needs to be body-on-frame’, but that would be a ridiculous thing to do, wouldn’t it?” Nick Rogers, the Executive Director for Product Engineering at Land Rover, told media at the car’s reveal in Frankfurt.
“Because whenever you have body-on-frame, you have always got a separate entity, which is the chassis, from the body, with mounts between the two. Which means every time you drive the car and want to change direction, you have phase lag.
“This monocoque is 10 times stiffer than a traditional body-on-frame, and three times stiffer than the best.”
That strength means the Defender is rated to 6.5-tonnes of snatch recovery load, and claimed to be capable of 500mm of articulation. Oh, and it has the strongest driveshafts and half shafts in Land Rover history.
Every Defender has independent multi-link suspension, with double wishbone up front, and an integral link set-up in the rear. Optional air suspension is capable of raising the ride height by 135mm in the front, and 145mm at the rear.
Aware that the boxy design could hurt efficiency, Land Rover used a number of design tweaks, including a completely smooth underfloor, to give the car a drag coefficient of 0.38cd.
JLR’s standard trio of S, HS, and HSE variants will be available for both 90 and 110 body styles, while a new X specification will top the range. Both the 90 and 110 can be specced in either five- or six-seat configurations, thanks to an optional jump seat that fits between the driver and front passenger.
A quartet of option packs are available for each, utilising some of the 170 available accessories for the Defender to make the car more capable for your desired use – whether it be exploring the wilds or conquering the urban jungle.
Finbar McFall is the Product Marketing Director at Land Rover, and he believes that due to the reborn Defender’s day-to-day liveability and rugged capability, it has no natural rivals.
“This is a vehicle that has its own space,” he said. “Our whole mission was to ensure [the Defender] was in a category of one. There is nothing else like it in our line-up, and there is nothing else like it in the wider market place.”
Land Rover was clearly aware that scrutiny on the new Defender would be intense, as the previous generations have developed a significant cult following.
However, company executives defended their design choices, stating that this is a worthy successor for the nameplate.
“The new Defender has had to be designed for a world that has changed beyond recognition from when the original was created,” Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer, told media.
“You can acknowledge [the original], but you cannot be harnessed by it. It has to appeal to a new generation of customers.
“These are the toughest, most capable, Land Rovers ever made. Period.”
We look forward to putting that statement to the test, Gerry.
Every L663 Defender will be built at JLR’s Nitra plant, in Slovakia, with A JLR spokesperson telling Australian media that the five-door 110 bodystyle is going to be the first to arrive locally, landing by June next year, and expected to start at $70,000. The range halo will be the X variant, with a rough estimation in the ballpark of $130,000-140,000.
Pricing for the two-door 90 can be marked into the calendar around Q2 2020, with an on-sale date of before next year’s end.