We like to point our fingers at Mexico for still making the Beetle and India for its love of Morris Oxfords. But the Land Rover Ninety, One-Ten, and then the Defender were produced from the early 80s all the way to 2016. Changes were aimed at keeping up with government regulations, and only so much. The One Ten itself was an evolution of the Series III Land Rover. The Defender we know and love was born in 1990, when they wanted to add another Land Rover model – the Discovery. But the Discovery was a car for the school run. It had carpets and velour seats and a lot of weight. The industrious Defender had hose-down interiors and sparse equipment and rugged functionality. There was less weight over the chassis, and that’s what made the Defender fun. It was easy and inexpensive to make this the World’s Best Offroader.
But it also had to be a car. Safety, emissions, and on-road driveability were largely ignored by Land Rover. They fixed whatever they could with wrenching and adjustments. Besides, Land Rover wasn’t doing too well in the early 2000s under Ford. They still built a concept in 2012, and fitted the existing cars with Ford Duratorq diesels. Things took a turn when Jaguar and Land Rover were handed to India. 2019 has the potential to be another bad year, but the company has always put the best foot forward with their products. New for 2020 is the Land Rover Defender, the all-new Discovery-based model. Could this be a Series V Land Rover?
We saw the last and the priciest Defender in 2016. The concept DC100 that was on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 got us all excited for the new car. But the L663 model hardly looks like it. The styling is boxy and conservative like a Discovery LR4. The unveil on September 10th presents a 5-door SUV with short overhangs and a long wheelbase. The 90-inch three door model will be launched later. Land Rover offers a range of different options to match your budget and off-roading aspirations, as well as accessory packs like adventure, country, explorer, and urban.
Jaguar’s latest Ingenium engines power the Defender. There are the 2-litre turbodiesels called the D200 and D240, and two turbo petrols. The P300 is a 2.0-litre, while the P400 is a 3.0-litre and will come with mild hybrid tech. A plug-in hybrid is also expected. The 110-inch wheelbase will be available with independent air springs all-round. It’ll have 5, 6, or 7-seat configurations. You’ll be able to get the 6-seat model with a third row or a front bench seat. Coil springs will be available as standard on the 90-inch models, with the option of air suspension.
The new Defender is expected to go on sale next year. It took JLR three years to perfect the SUV. All Land Rovers and Range Rovers are excellent off-roading machines. But the Defender must better them. At the same time it has to be comfortable, if not luxurious. Interior appointments in the new car have been engineered to be easy to clean but look high-rent. We can’t wait to get the keys to this one.