4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

LAND Rover Aus­tralia’s prod­uct and plan­ning man­ager Brett Lewis­driver con­firmed a new De­fender is in the pipe­line when asked by 4X4 Aus­tralia at the re­cent launch of the new Dis­cov­ery.

Here’s what you need to know. Yes, it’s def­i­nitely com­ing, there’s a team work­ing on it now and it will be the most off-road ca­pa­ble model in the Land Rover line-up. No, it’s not a pri­or­ity, it won’t hap­pen be­fore 2020 and it won’t be built off a new plat­form – in­stead it will use an ex­ist­ing plat­form. And fi­nally, it won’t be de­signed for com­mer­cial, ru­ral or mil­i­tary use, as it will be a recre­ational ve­hi­cle only.

Also at the launch, Jaguar­land Rover Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Matthew Wies­ner said: “A pick-up would be the num­ber-one de­sired prod­uct for us,” not sur­pris­ing given the boom­ing sales of dual-cab utes cur­rently in Aus­tralia. Utes are also very much in Land Rover’s core DNA, so it’s an ex­cel­lent prod­uct fit.

It seems the De­fender will come in a few body vari­ants, with pri­or­ity given to a dual-cab ute with other vari­ants to fol­low. But given ev­ery­thing also points to the new De­fender being built off the Dis­cov­ery’s alu­mini­um­mono­coque plat­form rather than a sep­a­rate chas­sis, hav­ing a vast num­ber of mod­els will be ex­pen­sive.

After a dual-cab ute, a five­door wagon is the most likely vari­ant, per­haps fol­lowed by a short-wheel­base, three-door wagon or even an ex­tend­ed­cab ute. By us­ing those four ba­sic body styles, and with a choice of a few en­gines plus op­tional wheel and tyre spec, you could quickly flesh out a model range. Lewis-driver also in­di­cated smaller brakes are being de­vel­oped to al­low a more prac­ti­cal wheel and tyre spec south of 19s.

Per­haps the best news is the happy re­la­tion­ship Land Rover ap­pears to be hav­ing with In­dian own­ers, Tata. Tata is pour­ing money into Land Rover, but at the same time let­ting Land Rover get on with the job it­self.

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