Good Oil: New Land Rover Defender “moves the game along”
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Forget your two-door limited run luxury coupe versions of the Range Rover, the real crunch point for the venerable Brit brand will be the next – utterly different – Defender, due for release in 2020.
While 2020 might still sound a long way off, in a matter of days it will be next year. Crikey. So, it’s inevitable that we’re starting to see spy shots of the new Land Rover Defender emerging as heavily camouflaged test mules begin wending their way through ‘real world’ streets.
We can only presume were there a spy photographer up a tree on the edge of the Namib Desert, or in a kayak at a river crossing in Yukon Territory, Northern Canada, we’d see pre-production Defenders’ in those environments too.
This vehicle is, without putting too fine a point on it, a massive deal for Jaguar Land Rover. While a utilitarian SUV might appear something of an anomaly in a world with more interest in compact crossovers and EVs, there is still so much brand DNA tied up in the Defender for Land Rover that it needs the next one to be wholeheartedly embraced, by both the brand faithful and new buyers.
So, how do you please both parties? The latest spy shots have us a little concerned that the new buyers are going to win out over those that have cherished the model for decades.
Despite the heavy disguise, the Defender looks to boast more of a modern silhouette than its venerable predecessor. There are – shock! – curves apparent. The wheel arches look to be integrated with the body a-la Discovery, while the familiar boxy elements that made the last Defender what it was, seem to have been pared back considerably. The windscreen looks more upright than anything else the carmaker is manufacturing, but only just.
Perhaps a G-Wagen-esque mix of old and new is what we’ll get. Which isn’t totally bad, of course…
Speaking to UK motoring outlet Auto Express at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Jaguar Land Rover's chief marketing officer Felix Bräutigam stated that the new Defender “…will not simply be a copy-cat, something retro. It will be something that moves the game on for Land Rover.”
Hmm. Okay, that’s fair. No car company wants to be seen to be standing still. But without even a slight nod to the Defender’s illustrious past as a no-nonsense go-anywhere off-roader, will that game be one that anyone wants to play? If it looks like a stripped-back Discovery, who will actually buy it?
We can’t wait to see what JLR comes up with. Because whatever that turns out to be, it needs to be absolutely genius and absolutely genuine.
Land-speed record-breaking V8 bike reimagined
Speaking of updates that celebrate the past (in this case the very distant past), this has to be one of the best – and oddest – of the year, and it’s been saved for last.
Based on a 1907 blueprint for a land speed record-breaking V8-powered motorcycle created by an engineer called Glenn Curtiss, the Curtiss Hera is, somewhat inevitably, an e-bike. But holy leather helmet and racing goggles, does this e-bike look unlike anything else out there? It’s like a steampunk holiday to the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The really cool thing is that Curtiss Motorcycles is all set to produce this thing for paying customers. The Hera bases itself almost entirely on the layout of the original V8 but replaces the petrol engine with an 8-piece battery pack arranged in the V formation. That’s right: rather than a V-Twin, it’s an E-twin.
If the symmetrical sensuousness of the Hera catches your eye, you should also pay a visit to the Curtiss Motorcycles website and check out the other (fossil-fuel burning) motorcycle models they manufacture. This company has an impressively left-field take on custom cycles.
The Hera brings some 1907 brutalism to the e-bike party. And we reckon the e-bike party will be all the better for it too. All going well, it will be available in 2020.
Prototype Aussie side-by-side offers six-wheeled sauce for summer
Ferox might sound like a ‘flu vaccine, but it’s anything but. This Australian engineering company has just released an off-road side-by-side prototype that takes a Crocodile Dundee “That’s not a knife. THIS is a knife” approach to the wheel count.
The Ferox Azaris is a six-wheeled off-roader concept that uses the combined power of four independent rear in-wheel motors and a bespoke rocker suspension system to power through the tough stuff.
Ferox reckons its light and responsive quad-motor set-up will provide more efficient power delivery than hydraulic motors. We’re not entirely sure how those head rests will perform in a roll-over crash, but it looks thoroughly fantastic otherwise.
Think of it as like the offspring of a Mercedes-AMG G 63 6x6 and a Mini Moke. Not coming to a sand dune near you this summer. But next summer perhaps…