New Land Rover Defender shapes up
As the new-generation Land Rover Defender edges closer to its world premiere later in 2019, with Aussie sales to begin in early 2020, the company has confirmed its fleet of prototype vehicles has surpassed 1.2 million kilometres of durability testing.
While the revealing new image shows the rugged old Defender will be replaced by a thoroughly modern machine – eschewing the route taken by the Suzuki Jimny and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen by incorporating retro body styling – the British-designed and engineered 4×4 promises to be the toughest machine its ever built.
The British brand has gone to great lengths to convince the world its new mud-slinger is the real deal, consistently referring to the Defender as the “most capable off-road Land Rover vehicle ever”.
Prototype vehicles have been undergoing testing across a range of extremes during the vehicle’s gestation, from the cold climes of the Arctic reaching negative 40-degreees centigrade, to the baking deserts of Dubai where temps rose to 50-degrees.
Naturally it’s been heavily tested in the UK and Europe and also in the USA across the Jeep Wrangler’s stomping ground of Moab, Utah and up to altitudes of 10,000 (3000 metres) in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Despite Australia being a key market for the Defender, it doesn’t appear to have been shipped here as part of the test program. But as soon as we get our hands on it, the carsales.com.au team will put it through it paces, off-road and on.
The 1.2 million kilometre testing milestone included a claimed 45,000 individual tests, which involved everything from regular freeway driving, to extreme off-roading, heavy towing and even tyre-frying, brake-melting hot laps at the Nurburgring.
Based on a new monocoque (unibody) platform, unlike the rugged ladder-frame chassis of its predecessor, the new model will be a better daily driver. It’s part of a push to widen the appeal of the boxy mud-plugger.
Images of the SUV’s interior have leaked showing a high-end, luxurious finish that may polarise rusted-on fans of the stripped-back interior of previous generations.
With a rich history that can be traced back to 1948, there’s a lot riding on the new Land Rover which will be built outside the UK at the car-maker’s new Nitra plant in Slovakia.
Land Rover executives have previously confirmed the Land Rover Defender SUV will be launched at or around the time of the 2019 Frankfurt motor show, which kicks off on September 12.
The order book for the new Land Rover Defender will open in late 2019 for Australian buyers but there is already an international Land Rover website where customers can register their interest and receive updates for the vehicle.
“In addition to the extensive simulation and rig testing, we’ve driven new Defender 1.2 million kilometres across all terrains and in extreme climates to ensure that it is the toughest and most capable Land Rover ever made,” said Nick Rogers, executive director of product engineering at Land Rover.
The vehicle in the image features the Tusk.org wording on its flanks, signifying the brand’s ongoing 15-year partnership with the African conservation foundation.
The Defender prototype will be tested at the 14,000-hectare Borana reserve in Kenya, where it will be “put to work towing, wading and carrying supplies … to support vital conservation work,” said Land Rover in a press release.
“The incredible opportunity to put it to the test in the field, supporting operations at the Borana Conservancy in Kenya, with Tusk, will allow our engineers to verify that we are meeting this target as we enter the final phase of our development program,” said Rogers.