Land Rover's Defender replacement will be the 'most capable' yet, and will get four-cylinder engines as well as a V6 option
29 October 2014
 

The new Defender will be the most capable Land Rover ever built, according to Phil Popham, Jaguar Land Rover’s group marketing director.

Speaking at the recent Paris show, Popham said the long-awaited new model would have the biggest “breadth of capability” of any model to wear the Land Rover badge.

The claim emphasises the importance that JLR is putting on replacing the iconic Defender, which has its roots in the 65-year-old original Land Rover model.

JLR has, so far, succeeded in keeping the wraps on the likely styling and the engineering make-up of the new Defender. However, we do know that the styling of the new car has already been signed off.

The styling theme for the new model is thought to have been given the green light during the summer. This means that the new vehicle is likely to be seen as a concept in 2016, and to appear in production guise around 2018.

However, a sneak preview in the form of a concept car is currently being discussed. Potential debuts for a concept are next March at the Geneva show, at the New York show in the spring or at the Frankfurt show next September.

There’s also no news about the structure underpinning the new Defender, but it looks likely to be a version of the company’s aluminium monocoque with the addition of a substantial aluminium superstructure in order to make the architecture as stiff and rugged as possible.

This technique – mixing a monocoque passenger cell and a separate steel chassis – was used under the Discovery to great success but resulted in a vehicle that weighed more than two tonnes. Repeating the exercise in aluminium should provide even greater structural rigidity than the Disco 4, with much reduced all-up weight.

With the new Defender being pitched as “premium durability”, it will come with the new Ingenium four-cylinder turbocharged diesel and petrol engines as well as V6 engines, Autocar understands. They will be connected to eight and nine-speed automatic gearboxes as standard, but there is no definitive news on whether there will be the option of a manual transmission.

JLR is determined that the new Defender will be able to thrive in the world’s harshest conditions, to the extent that it will be able to ‘plug into’ existing component networks by using the same wheel and tyres sizes as Toyota’s Land Cruiser and Hilux.

Autocar has been unable to substantiate rumours that the new Defender also uses the same bolt circle diameter to make wheel replacement easier in places such as central Africa.

The premium durability theme for the new Defender extends to the interior. Land Rover’s design team is aiming for a cabin that is distinctly more upmarket and better made than that of the Land Cruiser, for example.

This, combined with the intention of world-class mechanical durability and off-road ability, should give the Defender a decisive difference in this market niche. The extra luxury and comfort should also make it more appealing to affluent urban buyers.

Q&A with Phil Popham, JLR marketing director

What’s behind the recent massive increase in Land Rover sales?

Product has been the driver. Six years ago, when the recession hit, we made the decision to cut costs but keep investing in new products such as the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. We’ve gone from an annual cash outflow of around £1 billion to a similar amount as a cash inflow.

We’ve also seen a very high proportion of conquest sales with the two new Range Rovers, so we are pulling in customers who are new to the brand. There’s also a four to six-month waiting list for the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which shows the strength of demand.

In the future, we will have great manufacturing flexibility, with the two Range Rovers and the [next] Discovery being built on the same production line. Product demand drives our manufacturing strategy.

Why are profit margins so high?

We sell a very rich mix of vehicles. Buyers are keen to purchase a lot of the options and accessories on offer. We’ve also invested heavily in developing markets such as Russia and China. JLR sold 6000 vehicles in China in 2008. Last year, we sold 100,000 vehicles.

We are also seeing strong residuals for our models and that’s reflected in monthly payments. Even at the premium end of the market, buyers want to spend less running their vehicles. Total cost of ownership is a big issue.

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Our Verdict

Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender is an institution and unbeatable off road, if crude on it

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Comments
29

SKH

29 October 2014
I've seen it, and this rendering is nothing like it. Not even close.

A34

29 October 2014
SKH wrote:

I've seen it, and this rendering is nothing like it. Not even close.

Yes, I'd expect to see some legacy references for a new Defender design. I'd be impressed if they did use Toyota wheel specs though I doubt the depths of Africa would appreciate a 9 speed auto...

29 October 2014
does it resemble the dc100 concept ?does it look great/

SKH

29 October 2014
Ski Kid: No, it doesn't but it does have some Defender heritage cues. If I had to guess I'd say it's on a heavily reworked Discovery T5 platform. I can't see them spending the money to build a whole new platform just for one model.

29 October 2014
Quote "Repeating the exercise in aluminium should provide even greater structural rigidity than the Disco 4, with much reduced all-up weight.", I won't hold my breath, JLR do seem to have access to some specially heavy Aluminium.

 

29 October 2014
It always seems to be two or three years away from production.

29 October 2014
When I saw "breadth of capability" in the second paragraph I assumed the article would describe LR falling into the marketing black hole of producing a Defender that is at home in the Sahara but with features that means it sells better in Mayfair. That element is certainly evident (beware any mention of the word 'premium') but I was actually surprisingly encouraged by the focus on mechanical durability (Toyota-compatible wheels is very refreshing!) and ability to thrive in harsh conditions, which hopefully doesn't imply awful drivin environments such as central London. Where I remain sceptical is that a Defender should be able to roam well beyond the reach of the LR dealer network. This not only implies durability and off-road capability but also repairability, the latter a key feature of the original. Land Rover's reliability record is still poor and I struggle to see a field mechanic in a remote region being able to repair a broken Ingenium engine or 9 speed auto. Will a cheap, stripped out version with a 4 cyl petrol, manual gearbox and mechanical diffs be available?

28 May 2015
JLRs Achilles heel is/always was electronics. The new models are getting worse, if the new 'Defender' has electric windows we will know all is lost. Using 'electronic' braking instead of proper diffs is a clear example of economy over good driving skill.
Classic Defenders are just going to get more expensive, those ex-MoD Wolfs look like a future classic.

RogerHudson

29 October 2014
Autocar: Why are profit margins so high?
Popham: Knowing you'll print whatever I say anyway I'm not even going to pretend to answer that question.

29 October 2014
Is it actually constructed of Lego?

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