Next Defender: changes under the skin
10 August 2006

Land Rover might have just launched a new Freelander, but these spy shots prove that it's not leaving the legendary Defender alone either.

Taken inside Land Rover's Solihull factory, the pics show that the classic Defender shape remains basically unchanged - although there is now a slight bonnet bulge. That's needed to accommodate one of the main alterations - the new 2.2-litre diesel engine. The 128bhp unit, taken from the Ford Transit, produces 228lb ft of torque. It replaces the Td5, which doesn't meet Euro4 emissions regulations.

If the bodyshell has only been tweaked, the interior has been radically changed. The current car's instruments, which hark back to 1983, have been replaced by dials and dashboard trim from the new Freelander.

Ventilation controls have moved from their current home on the side of the instrument pod to the more conventional location of the centre console. The rear seats now face forward instead of inward.

Land Rover sells 25,000 Defenders a year, but the car is profitable. The lack of airbags means the Defender can't be sold in the US, but a totally new car is not likely to arrive before 2010.

There are still a few spaces left for this Friday's off-roading day at Eastnor Castle. If you'd like to join us and drive the latest Land Rovers, click here.

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