The Defender replacement may have been spotted in public in the UK! The photos here, courtesy of Auto Express UK, are said to show a heavily camouflaged pilot (or pre-production test) car which will be reasonably close to the final product. Previous spy shots have shown a ‘mule’ car, with a modified Range Rover Sport body on the Defender running gear. This pilot vehicle is a five door wagon, the replacement for the 110 which was easily the most popular variant to come to Australia for the old model and will probably lead the charge in sales again. The photos are said to be taken near the Land Rover factory.

Official Word from Land Rover

Speaking from the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief marketing officer Felix Bräutigam said: “It’s exciting to now start getting one step closer to officially announcing the rebirth of an icon.”

“These are what we call Pilot build cars and testing will increase on public roads from now,” said Bräutigam. “The first four cars are ready, and now the line is running you can expect the number of test cars to grow exponentially.”
“In time, as you’d expect, the Defender will go through all the usual test routines, from cold weather testing in Arjeplog in Sweden to extreme hot weather testing in Death Valley in the USA. It’s exciting for us to be able to now be one step closer to bringing the car to market, of course. We are talking about the rebirth of an icon and not just as a single car, but as a whole family.”
“Our brand is about passion, and it is icons that drive that passion. The truth is the world doesn’t need another premium brand doing what all the others do. These icons are what separate us; at Land Rover we are rooted in our heritage and that’s what makes us different.”

MR4X4.com.au would like to invite Land Rover Australia to come and test the vehicles in Australia’s unique conditions. Mercedes couldn’t get their G-Wagens across the Canning without failures, can Land Rover?

 

Defender Replacement 008
The sills aren’t as low as some competitors, ramp over angle should be good with air suspension.

Defender Family values

The pilot vehicle shows a wealth of design cues from the Defender as well as a few from the Discovery and Range Rover families. The offset grill badge has been with the family since 1994. The horizontal radiator grill itself dates from the introduction of the Ninety and One Ten models of 1984. Rear cargo space appears to be short, making a seven seater a tight fit and a roof rack or trailer a necessity for remote touring. Just like the older Discoveries…

 

Defender Replacement 016
Thankfully, the arse end isn’t the ugly lopsided Tarago look of the new Discovery, instead keeping with the Defender’s single large rear door design. If the spare wheel isn’t on the back door or the bonnet, is it really a Land Rover?

Progress never sleeps

Purists will dislike the full independent suspension, especially on the utility models, despite how well the Discovery handles off road; the 2.0l turbo diesel will be shunned by the big engine brigade, even though the Ingenium engine range has proven to be strong performers for a number of years now. There is a high chance the drivetrain will be hybrid electric, if not across the range but as an option. The tapered sides and raked roof isn’t as economical for interior space. Shallower window lines and Alpine Window (or in my old One Ten: spider habitat) deletion will take from the bright and airy feel of the Defender.

Bräutigam added “If we had wanted to recreate the existing car then we could have moved quicker, but it is our view that for an icon to remain an icon it cannot only look backwards, but must move forwards too. The new Defender will move the game on again, and having the benefit for some perspective in order to achieve that should be to our advantage.”
“The one thing I can promise you is that the new Defender will do all that our customers expect of it, without being a copycat of what has gone before. It is a car for the modern world, and that means that it must move the game on if it is to be relevant.”

Some of the design has us scratching our heads. Because the expansive bonnet has a severe edge, which is surely bad for pedestrian impact, we think (hope?) it may be concealing a bonnet with more sculpting. Either way, the aftermarket will probably have a chequerplate kit within a month of release.

With the Defender ceasing production in 2016, the wait is growing longer. The first lucky customers are expected to be picking up their cars some time in 2020.