The Defender has been around so long that the technology it debuted with is mainstream again.
Procrastination is the real bitch of any creative endeavor, but most of us can agree that it was not a bad thing that Land Rover held off on redesigning the Defender for so long. It was hard not to fall in love with the classic rugged looks of the old Defender, and there’s something about its crude simplicity that seemed better suited to the badlands than the soft new Discovery. But the days of dawdling are over, or so Automotive News Europe claims.
AN recently sat down with Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern to talk about the new Defender and heard that the sand on the upper portion of the hourglass is running out. Earlier reports indicated that the Defender would be revealed in 2018, but McGovern simply said the new model is “not far away.” Better still is the fact that the Defender will remain as rugged as the last. At least in terms of capability if it doesn't happen in the looks department. “You’ll be able to kick the hell out of them and they’ll get up for more,” McGovern said. The only mention he made about the Defender’s design was that it would combine the best of old and new worlds. To our ears, this means nothing–the new design could still be a hit or a miss.
Being the successor to one of the most iconic off-roaders in the world, the new Defender will pay its respects by retaining design elements of the car it replaces. Unfortunately, the bean counters want it to be more modern as well so that it appeals to suburban families and newly rich yuppie millennials, not just the diehard enthusiasts. “This was a vehicle that for a very long time was the emotional core of our brand. In order to move our brand forward we need to create desirable and relevant vehicles to appeal to a wider group of customers,” noted McGovern. Funny enough, the Defender has been around long enough to go full circle with materials technology.
When it first debuted, it was built on aluminum architecture, which was touted for its longevity by being able to stave off corrosion. Aluminum has once again become the norm, except this time it's done to save weight. Expect the lightweight material to be a main feature when the Defender is unveiled in 2018 (or 2017 as a 2018 model) to commemorate the model’s 70th anniversary. The main difference? Fuel economy regulations could one day force Land Rover to downsize or convert the Defender into a hybrid or electric SUV.