First sight­ing of new Land Rover

Coventry Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By ENDA MULLEN News Re­porter enda.mullen@reach­plc.com

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. mullen@reach­plc.com

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