The new Defender will be pitched as a premium SUV despite its rugged roots.
It was a sad day for Land Rover enthusiasts when the Defender finished production after nearly 70 years. Fear not, however, because a new, redesigned version of the iconic off-roader is coming. While the new Defender will of course return to its rugged roots, it will also spawn multiple variants according to Autocar, ranging from utilitarian entry-level models to high-end luxury models.
Autocar claims the new Defender will be pitched as a premium SUV despite its rugged roots, with entry-level versions unlikely to cost much less than £40,000 ($51,000). The more luxurious and powerful high-end models will reportedly cost over £70,000 ($90,000). As a nod to the original lineup, the reborn Defender range will be inspired by 90-inch and 110-inch wheelbase models that inspired the naming of the old Defender 90 and Defender 110.
According to Autocar, financial documents show that the Defender will become a sub-brand, allowing Land Rover to realize its long-term strategy of splitting its three main nameplates, Range Rover, Discovery, and Defender, into three distinct product groups. Each model line will also have more distinct styling than before. According to the company’s published plans, the Defender family will fit under the heading “Durability”. The upcoming models have to be “functional, durable, practical” and offer “off-road expertise”.
The new Defender will be based on Land Rover’s new lightweight, all-aluminum MLA platform, which will be backed up by electronic chassis controls to make it the most capable off-roader on the market. Autocar claims the shorter-wheelbase Defender 90 will be sold as a sporty three-door model and may also be available with a removable hard-top, while the longer-wheelbase Defender 110 will be sold as a larger, more luxurious SUV.
The long wheelbase will also be the platform for a Defender pickup to rival the Mercedes X-Class. The more consumer-oriented models will be available with mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains, using the four-cylinder version of the company’s Ingenium engine. Performance versions of the Defender will be powered by Land Rover’s new straight-six Ingenium engine replacing V8s. The six-cylinder engine will also be offered in mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Defender, but Land Rover is currently prioritizing the upcoming launch of the new Range Rover Evoque, meaning that the reborn Defender is unlikely to be revealed until next year before it goes on sale after April 2020.