2020 Land Rover Defender tested by the Red Cross
The new Land Rover Defender has been testing with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), before its official unveiling in October 2019. Prices are yet to be announced but a starting price of around £30-35,000 seems likely. The new Defender will be just as capable off-road as the previous Defender, and its rivals will include the Toyota Land Cruiser, Mitsubishi Shogun Sport and SsangYong Rexton.
Land Rover previously revealed a number of teaser images, with some recent images featuring Defender prototypes that were loaned to the Kenyan wildlife charity, Tusk. As part of Jaguar Land Rover’s partnership with the charity, the prototypes were used for towing, transporting heavy cargo and tracking lions across a 14,000-hectare reserve.
It’s thought that full specifications for the new Defender were recently leaked on a Land Rover Forum. The images, which appear to be taken from an internal Land Rover document, show the model, engine and options ranges, with dimensions and trim levels.
There’ll be a short- and long-wheelbase model, and this information confirmed that a third model will join the new Defender line-up. As well as the 90 and 110 models, an even longer 130 model will be available. According to the sheet we saw, these three models will be revealed at different times: the mid-size 110 will be introduced in October 2019, followed by the three-door 90 model in March 2020 and the 130 in August 2020.
The 2020 Land Rover Defender will be offered with between five and eight seats. Even the shorter 90 will be available with six seats, suggesting that there will be the option of three seats in the front row. The Defender 110, called the ‘definitive Defender’ on the sheet, will offer the choice of five, six or seven seats. Described as a ‘premium explorer’, the Defender 130 will only be available with eight seats.
The Defender 130 will have the same wheelbase (distance between the front and rear wheels) as the 110, at 3,022mm. The extra length is likely to be behind the rear wheels, giving the 130 room for a third row of seats. Unlike the old Defender, the new model won’t be available with two sideways-mounted benches in the boot. The wheelbase of the 90 is 2,587mm, so it’ll be much shorter and more manoeuvrable than the 110 or 130.
The leaked information also suggests that the Defender will have access to most of Jaguar Land Rover’s current engine range. From launch, diesel models will consist of the 197bhp D200 and the 237bhp D240, with a 296bhp D300 version joining the line-up in 2021. Petrol engines are available with either 296bhp or 395bhp, and are badged P300 and P400 respectively. A hybrid Land Rover Defender seems to have been confirmed, using the high-power petrol engine and a small electric motor. The 130 will only get a choice of D300, P400 and P400e engines. All feature four-wheel-drive and an automatic gearbox.
Eventually there’ll be three different versions - Standard, X-Dynamic (from 2021) and X (only available on the 130). X-Dynamic is likely to look a bit sportier than Standard, in a similar way that the Range Rover Evoque offers an R-Dynamic trim level. Then, you’ll be able to choose between S, SE and HSE specification packs, which offer increasing amounts of equipment. After that comes four option packs - ‘Capability’, ‘Interior Upgrade’, ‘Exterior’ and ‘Convenience’ - plus standalone options and accessories, which are grouped into ‘Explorer’, ‘Adventure’, ‘Urban’ and ‘Country’ categories.
It’s not easy to make out all of the equipment available on each trim level but the Standard trim level gets LED headlights, parking sensors, eight-way partly electronically adjustable seats, a 10-inch touchscreen and a seven-inch screen between the dials. It appears that most cars in this spec will ride on 18-inch alloy wheels, whereas the PHEV gets 20-inch wheels. ‘S’ trim adds front fog lights, 12-way adjustable seats trimmed in ‘Performance’ material and a digital instrument cluster. On SE, you’ll also get auto high-beam assist, keyless entry, memory seats and wing mirrors, a Meridian 10-speaker sound system and a Park Pack (a 360-degree parking camera and rear-traffic warning).
Above that, HSE includes Matrix LED headlights (high-beam light that avoids dazzling other drivers), Windsor leather upholstery, a more powerful sound system and the Drive Pack, while the luxurious X trim offers tinted tail-lights, heated rear seats, 38-way adjustable front seats and the Co-Pilot Pack, which should allow the car to drive itself where permitted. SE, HSE and X come with three different 20-inch alloy wheel designs.
Our best look at the styling comes from a spy shot that shows the Defender on the digital instrument cluster. The new image was leaked online and shows the side profile of the next-gen offroader in detail.
This leak is the first undisguised image we’ve seen of the new Defender. It shows that the design of the new car incorporates some iconic elements from the old model, with flat-sided bodywork, front-wing-mounted air intakes, upright rear lights and a tailgate-mounted spare wheel.
The next-generation Defender has now racked up hundreds of thousands of test miles in a variety of environments, including 50-degree deserts, the sub-zero Arctic, and the high-altitude Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
The testing regime hasn't entirely focused on rugged terrain, as we've already seen a prototype lapping the famous Nurburgring racetrack in Germany. Jaguar Land Rover has an engineering base close to the Nurburgring race track, so it was a natural place to assess the car's dynamics.
New Land Rover Defender interior
Earlier this year, an image leaked online allegedly showing the interior of the new Defender. It has since been deleted, but did show what is claimed to be the full dashboard design, including a large infotainment screen, a digital dial cluster and a rugged looking multi-function steering wheel.
The picture also suggested that the Defender could potentially come with a row of three front seats, and a set of pedals marked with “GO” for the accelerator and “STOP” for the brake pedal.
New Land Rover Defender technology
However, Land Rover has assured Defender fans that its successor's off-road ability will make it worthy of the name. JLR executive Dr Ralf Speth told Carbuyer that the design and engineering of the new model is all but finalised, and promised that the new model will be “even more capable” than the previous Defender when the terrain gets challenging.
Clearly confident as to the new Defender's abilities, he went on to reveal: “I have driven test mules already… and also tried the car against competitors, in on and off-road environments. It’s sensational.”
Although the Defender has always been famed for its simple, rugged engineering that can shrug off harsh terrain, Jaguar Land Rover certainly won't overlook the booming market for luxury SUVs. JLR design boss Gerry McGovern said: “The Defender is all about durability – that indestructible, durable vehicle which is what a family of Defenders would be.” However, he made strong hints that high-performance SVR versions could be offered.
With Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division having already impressed with models like the 567bhp Range Rover Sport SVR, it could turn its attention to the next Defender and produce a real rival to the new Mercedes-AMG G63 SUV. Such a car would likely prove popular in the Russian and Chinese markets, as would a luxurious version along the lines of the Range Rover SVAutobiography.