Defender breaks cover
First look at crucial new 4x4
The new Land Rover Defender has been spied testing on public roads for the first time as development of the rugged 4x4 ramps up ahead of its official 2020 on-sale date.
The pictures show the new Defender in camo livery on the roads near the Jaguar Land Rover factory in Gaydon. Speaking at the Paris motor show, Jaguar Land Rover marketing chief Felix Bräutigam admitted their authenticity, confirming they were of the first prototype to leave Gaydon.
Behind the usual disguise, the Defender’s bodywork looks to be approaching that of the finished product and the trademark boxy profile remains intact. Hints of the previousgeneration Land Rover Discovery can also be seen in the front end, although the Defender looks to be shorter, with a lower roofline.
“The first four test cars are ready, and now the line is running, you can expect the number of test cars to grow exponentially,” said Bräutigam. “In time, the Defender will go through all the usual test routines, from cold weather testing in Arjeplog in Sweden to extreme hot weather testing in Death Valley in the USA. It’s exciting for us to be able to now be one step closer to bringing the car to market. We are talking about the rebirth of an icon and not just as a single car but as a whole family.”
Bräutigam added that he felt the time taken between the Defender going off sale in 2016 and relaunching could now be considered a positive for the new car, especially as it is expected to be offered with electrified powertrains as well as petrol and diesel units.
“If we had wanted to recreate the existing car, then we could have moved quicker, but it is our view that for an icon to remain an icon, it cannot only look backwards but must move forward too,” he said. “The new Defender will move the game on again, and having the benefit of some perspective in order to achieve that should be to our advantage.
“The one thing I can promise you is that the new Defender will do all that our customers expect of it, without being a copycat of what has gone before. It is a car for the modern world and that means that it must move the game on if it is to be relevant.”
A Jaguar Land Rover spokesperson added: “We can confirm customers around the world will be taking delivery of and enjoying Defender again from 2020.”
According to the DVLA database, the vehicle registered with the numberplate seen in our spy shots is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine.
In one of the spy shots captured by our photographer, the window is wound down and a driver can be seen. It appears to be Nick Rogers, Jaguar Land Rover’s executive director of product engineering, although the firm refused to comment.
The reborn Defender
is being developed in two forms: a short-wheelbase 90-badged model and a larger 110 version. Autocar has previously revealed that the two wheelbase sizes will allow the firm to develop a whole family of vehicles, ranging from basic utilitarian machines up to luxurious high-end models.
The new Defender, which has the development codename L663, has previously been spied conducting off-road cold weather testing, but these new spy shots are the first time it has been seen on public roads. Although the firm remains tight-lipped, sources have suggested that it is likely to be launched in late summer next year.
Land Rover insiders have previously described the car’s brief as being to offer the “biggest breadth of capability of any model to wear the badge”, with prices tipped to range from £40,000 to £70,000. A Land Rover source has told Autocar that there could be up to 12 different variants of the 4x4 on offer.
The original Land Rover Series I, from which the Defender is derived, was launched 70 years ago, in 1948.
This is the first Defender test car to leave Gaydon New Defender line-up likely to span £40,000 to £70,000 from 2020
Boxy silhouette is clear, despite the disguise