Top-end performance versions of the Defender will get the new straight six Ingenium engine in various states of tune. V8s will not be used in future JLR products. The six-cylinder engine will also be offered in mild and plug-in hybrid versions.
Permanent all-wheel drive will be standard on all models, as will automatic transmissions. It seems unlikely that JLR will engineer a manual gearbox for MLA-based vehicles, because there would be little demand for it on future Range Rover and Discovery models.
It’s also highly likely the new Defender will be built alongside the Discovery at JLR’s new factory in Slovakia. That may well prove to be a controversial decision when the company is relaunching such an iconic British vehicle. Production of the Discovery is being switched wholesale to Slovakia and will begin rolling out of the Nitra facility this autumn. In its first stage of development, Nitra has the capacity to build 150,000 vehicles per year.
Global Discovery sales are currently around 45,000 units, which means Nitra would have a capacity to build up to 100,000 Defenders each year. Judging by JLR’s intention to make the L663 a ‘third pillar’ in the portfolio, annual sales of 100,000 units would probably be the minimum aim. The Nitra plant has also been built with the ability to increase capacity by another 150,000 units.
Because it is fully integrated onto the MLA platform, the financial case for a new Defender finally makes sense. In its last years on sale, the previous Defender struggled to shift more than 20,000 units annually, which was far too low to make the case for a new stand-alone model.
In addition to waiting for the launch of the second-generation Evoque, it’s now clear that synchronising the release of the new Defender with both the launch of the MLA platform and the opening of the new factory in Slovakia has been the reason behind the extended wait for the new car.
Defender look to trade on heritage:
Land Rover has worked through numerous iterations to reach the right shape for the new Defender and it may have settled on taking the icon back to where it began.
Sources suggest JLR bosses are looking at the sales success of modernised classics like the Mini and Fiat 500 and will take a similar approach for their new car.
Company chiefs have always made much of the fact that the original Land Rover’s profile is so distinctive that it can be represented clearly in just in three strokes of a pen, yet it seems to have taken years of experimentation for it to dawn on these people that potential buyers simply want this to continue.
Jeep has known this all along: even after a dozen iterations, its Wrangler’s profile and basic concept retain a clear link with the WW2 Jeep that started it all. Steve Cropley
New Defenders will cover all the bases:
Defender 90 - Entry-level three-door will be built on the short- wheelbase MLA platform and will focus on sporty driving dynamics and the kind of utilitarian prowess the Defender is famed for.