Don't expect the design to share too many similarities with the original.
The long-running Land Rover Defender finally finished production last year, but Land Rover is already working on a modernized replacement for the rugged off-roader. Due to arrive in 2018, the all-new Defender will be built on the same aluminum architecture as the new Discovery, Range Rover, and Range Rover Sport. Given the success of the original, the all-new Defender has a lot to live up to, but design director Gerry McGovern is “hellbent” on living up to those expectations - and perhaps even exceeding them.
Speaking to Automotive News, McGovern went on to distinguish the three family members of the Land Rover range: the Range Rover, Discovery, and Defender. While we’ve seen several variants of the Range Rover tackle the luxury SUV sector, the Land Rover is focusing on three key design traits for the Defender: design leadership, durability, and engineering integrity. A teaser sketch of the new Defender’s silhouette was also shown featuring a flat roof and squared-off front end similar to the fabled original. Don’t expect the new Defender to be a retro-inspired tribute to the original, however. McGovern insists that he’s a modernist who’s “looking forward, not back."
Elsewhere, the new Defender will have boxy fenders and styled edges and curves for a more modern look compared to the angular shape of the original. The taillights will also be modern, while the headlights will likely be round like the originals with updated LED lighting. From the sounds of it, the Land Rover Defender will live up to its name and be a true off-roader with updated styling for the modern age that appeals to younger buyers. Like the Range Rover, McGovern says that the new Defender will spawn several new variants, including the possibility of a Wrangler-style two-door convertible and five-seat or seven-seat versions.
We also know it will abandon the old-school body-on-frame design for a unibody construction. The new Defender is expected to debut either late next year or in early 2019. Mercifully, it will also finally be sold in the US for the first time in 20 years.