First sighting of new Land Rover
THE first sightings of prototype versions of the new Land Rover Defender have been spied on public roads in Warwickshire.
Pictures showing heavily camouflaged versions of the new Defender have been captured by a photographer working on behalf of the magazine Autocar .
Other magazines and websites have also covered the sightings, close to the entrance of Jaguar Land Rover’s research and development facility in Gaydon.
The sightings are thought to be the first of a ‘prototype proper’ for the new Defender, with sightings up until now restricted to test ‘mules’ for the new vehicle.
Telegraph reader Darren Vel Satis captured one of the mules on the streets of Leamington in July .
Mules are so called because they often feature chopped-up bits of other vehicles on top of running gear for the new vehicle being tested, meaning they bear little if any resemblance to the final product. The Defender mule spotted in Leamington appeared to have the chopped-up body of a Range Rover Sport, its large alloy wheels being the only indication that a new Defender was hidden underneath.
According to Auto Express magazine the new Defender prototypes are being built in Coventry at a Jaguar Land Rover facility in Browns Lane .
As with everything Defender-related, Jaguar Land Rover bosses are remaining tight-lipped about where it will be built.
Traditionalists might assume it will be built in the Lode Lane factory in Solihull , Land Rover’s spiritual home, though there have been rumours it will be produced at the car maker’s new factory in Slovakia .
In June it was revealed production of the Land Rover Discovery is to be moved from Solihull to Slovakia and some analysts have suggested the new Defender will also roll off the production lines there.
Land Rover has confirmed the Autocar spy pictures are that of the new Defender, which is due to go on sale in 2020.
Quizzed about the images at the recent Paris Motor Show, Felix Brautigam, Jaguar Land Rover’s marketing chief, said they were of the first prototypes to leave Gaydon and that more would follow in the months ahead as the clock ticks down to production getting under way.
He said: “These are what we call pilot build cars and testing will increase on public roads from now.
“The first four cars are ready, and now the line is running you can expect the number of test cars to grow exponentially.
“In time, as you’d expect, 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 the market. Felix Brautigam, Jaguar Land Rover marketing chief
“It’s exciting for us to be able to now be one step closer to bringing the car to market, of course.
“We are talking about the rebirth of an icon and not just as a single car, but as a whole family.”
Mr Brautigam expressed confidence that the new Defender would continue to be an automotive icon but not be a copycat of the previous one.
He said: “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 forwards too.
“The new Defender will move the game on again, and having the benefit for some perspective in order to achieve that should be to our advantage.
“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 spokesman confirmed the 2020 launch of one of the most eagerly awaited vehicles ever, though the new version is expected to be unveiled before that.
They said: “We can confirm customers around the world will be taking delivery of and enjoying Defender again from 2020.”
The next generation Defender will be produced in two main forms, like its predecessor. There will be a short wheelbase 90 model, and a larger 110 version.
Land Rover bosses have also said the new Defender will spawn a whole family of vehicles.
They said the vision going forward was to have three vehicle families – Range Rover, Discovery and Defender.
Production of the old Land Rover Defender ground to a halt in January 2016 at the car maker’s Solihull factory after 68 years of continuous production.
Originally launched simply as the Land Rover, the vehicle went on to become the Series I, II and III before being renamed the Defender.
Have you seen the new prototype Defenders out and about on the streets of Coventry and Warwickshire?
If you have and have managed to take any pictures please email them to enda. email@example.com