The off-road icon is back! New Land Rover Defender revealed
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
It was an off-roader range that spanned eight decades and numerous naming conventions, but now the Land Rover Defender is officially back — having just been unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
To reproduce the magic of a classic like the Defender and then to have produced it to modern tech and luxury expectations is quite the feat. Land Rover hopes to have achieved the balance with an SUV that they call 'an icon re-imagined'.
A short wheelbase '90' and long wheelbase '110' Defender line-up have been showcased (the latter available with either five, six, or seven seats). Each will be built on Land Rover's new D7x platform — a lightweight monocoque made out of aluminium and designed to withstand Extreme Event Test procedures. The British firm say it's the stiffest body structure it's ever produced.
Following the prior leaks, most of the Defenders looks aren't a big surprise. From a side-on profile its squared-off rear end gives a strong impression of its history. However the rounded nature of the front is sure to divide the hardcore Defender faithful. Perhaps Mercedes with its G-Wagen has done a better job of preserving identity and charm while also improving day-to-day elements like handling and features.
Initial engine options include two four-cylinder diesel engines and a mild-hybrid six-cylinder that forms the basis of the range-topping model. The entry level D200 diesel makes 147kW of power and 430Nm of torque while the latter D240 makes 177kW and identical torque.
The mild-hybrid six meanwhile makes 297kW/500Nm. It will be both turbocharged and supercharged simultaneously, with the latter electrically driven by the 48V mild hybrid system. The same system will also harvest energy from the SUV under braking.
Land Rover also says that a P400e plug-in hybrid will be added to the line-up next year.
Apart from the move from traditional body-on-frame to monocoque, the other big change from Defenders of old is the decision to include air suspension as an option on the new Defender. Models will come standard with independent coil-sprung suspension.
The numbers are still impressive, regardless of where you sit on the 'is it a real Defender?' divide. Towing capacity sits at 3500kg, while payload is an impressive 900kg. Wading depth is 900mm and approach, departure, and break-over angles are all impressive — poised at 30.1 degrees, 37.7 degrees, and 22 degrees respectively.
Set the Defender in an off-road drive mode, and its approach and departure angles grow by one degree, while break-over angle increases to 28 degrees.
Speaking of water wading and drive modes, the Defender comes with Land Rover's new Wade mode — a drive mode integrated into Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 system designed specifically for navigating water.
The cabin, much like the exterior, is predictably a blend of old concepts and new. Minimalist styling elements and the latest in touch-screen tech is mated to wood and rivets. The driver gets a 12.3-inch digital cluster, which is complemented by a 10-inch Pivi Pro infotainment screen in the centre.
It's a screen that's designed to reduce the amount of required interaction and finger presses by 50 per cent when compared to the last system. Along with the requisite features that you'd expect, the system also allows for multiple phones to be connected on Bluetooth simultaneously. It also allows for over-the-air software updates.
Jaguar Land Rover New Zealand has said that local pricing and timing will be announced in due course. But, they've also said that they expect supply shortages, and encourage buyers to contact their local dealer to register their interest in the Defender as early as possible.
That's exactly what you'd expect them to say, of course. But it's worth considering that the whole off-roader genre is experiencing big demand and waiting lists at the moment. Two prominent examples in New Zealand sit at opposite ends of the spectrum, with long waits awaiting anyone wanting a Suzuki Jimny or Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen.
Local pricing and timing could potentially mirror that of Australia. Over the ditch, the new Defender will start arriving in June next year with the 110. Pricing will start at AU$70,000.
Click here to view Land Rovers for sale on Driven