The Land Rover Defender is one of the top SUV’s available which is why we’re so excited to have gotten a sneak peek at the new model as it was tested off-road in North America earlier this week.
The tests were part of the development cycle that will see the car subjected to temperatures between -45 and 48 degrees Celsius, alongside altitudes as high as 13,000 feet.
The two cars spotted are thought to be prototypes of a short wheelbase Defender ‘90’ and a longer wheelbase Defender ‘110’, which looked very similar in size and stature to the current Discovery.
As they’re still going through vigorous testing, Land Rover have not yet released official designs or photos of the new Defender, but are expected to unveil these some time later in the year.
The iconic off-roader last drove off the production line in January 2016, over 65 years after the Series I, on which it was based, went on sale.
Since then the Defender has remained one of the best loved SUV’s on the market, and unsurprisingly there is a lot of excitement over the new model, and the latest glimpses we’ve gotten of it.
The prototypes spotted seem to have clear round headlights, with small indicator bulbs to the side. The new style lights still appear to be fared into the main unit, as on the classic Defender.
On the 4-door test car, the sides taper towards the roof and a side hinged tailgate allows access to the luggage bay. The car had a large flat bonnet, covered in heavy cladding, with a slim grille below. Heavier cladding is also expectend to be a feature on the doors, as the windows were set back from the boxy shoulder lines.
The underbody work is expected to be a strengthened version of the same platform that underpins the current Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery. The strengthened underbody will be crucial for Land Rover meeting safety standards in the US and Canadian markets.
Little is known about the engines at the minute but it is suspected they will be the latest Jaguar Land Rover Ingenium petrol and diesel line up.
Models are expected with manual and automatic gearboxes.
We also got a glimpse of what the Defender is expected to look like on the inside, with a photo leaked on Twitter
The now deleted image showed the dash in full; featuring a, digital instrument binnacle, a multifunctional steering wheel and a large information screen which should run Jaguar Land Rover’s Incontrol system.
In the image, there was an amusing glimpse of two pedals labelled “go” and “stop”.
The leaked picture also showed a hint of a middle seat, leading to speculation that the new model may have a three-seat layout.
While the new model is clearly still a Defender, it is clear that Land Rover doesn’t want to create a replica of the original. Speaking from the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief marketing officer Felix Bräutigam said: “The new Defender will not simply be a copy-cat, something retro. It will be something that moves the game on for Land Rover.”
Overall it is clear that the new Defender will be as tough as the previous model, but with the upgraded interior and stylish new design will not look as basic.
Prices are expected to start from around £40,000 for basic models and go upwards of £70,000 for top of the range specs.
The exact release date is not yet known but Land Rover have said the first customers can expect delivery in 2020.