Both cars were designed with a nod to their heritage and — on paper, at least — appear to be confident off-roaders, with ladder-frame chassis, low-range gearboxes and rigid axle suspensions.
So, basically, the two most important things for a new Defender to get right.
Land Rover might argue that its cars have the best off-road ability of any 4x4, but Jaguar Land Rover’s new MLA platform — which the Defender looks set to be one of the first in line to use — is currently unproven.
The Wrangler and Jimny should appeal to anyone on a modest budget, too. Land Rover insists that everything it makes qualifies for ‘premium’ status, so you have to imagine the new Defender will carry a price to match, even if the mainstream model will be intended as a workhorse vehicle.
I understand JLR doesn’t want to tease a new model and disenfranchise all the customers who think they know what a Defender is, and there’s always the worry of copycats pouncing on any concept the company reveals. If development is being shifted from the Range Rover’s D7u platform to the new MLA architecture, that would understandably put the brakes on a potential reveal as well.
Still, brand names alone can only carry so much weight. With potential customers receiving only radio silence so far, Land Rover is leaving the door open for its rivals to make big gains.