2020 Land Rover Defender officially arrives
After an endless stream of teaser images, the new Land Rover Defender has been officially revealed. Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, prices start from £45,240 for the five-door 110 version; prices for the three-door 90 model are yet to be revealed. Customers can place orders now.
The Defender has proved to be the stereotypical ‘difficult second album’ for Land Rover. It was initially meant to be launched shortly after the withdrawal of its predecessor in 2016, but a rigorous worldwide testing programme pushed the release date back. Land Rover has had to juggle the tough and capable nature of the old version with modern styling and technology, making sure it still appeals to Defender enthusiasts.
2020 Land Rover Defender styling
Land Rover has attempted to capture the essence of the Defender with the new model and has made sure it looks separate to the Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery. As before, it has boxy styling, a spare wheel mounted on the tailgate, ‘Alpine’ windows in the roof and a tall bonnet. New lights, grilles, air intakes and alloy wheels bring it up to date, and there’s an option of a contrasting roof.
The new Defender will be available in three body styles; a three-door 90 model, a five-door 110 model and, for the first time, a longer 130 model. The 110, which goes on sale first, is longer than the old car, has better ground clearance and has a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels). You’ll be able to add off-road equipment like winches, spotlights and bumper guards to all three models.
Increasing the wheelbase has freed up more space inside, making the Defender feel more airy and user-friendly. In most ways, the dashboard is unrecognisable from the previous generation, as Land Rover has pushed the Defender upmarket and included the equipment that customers expect in a new Land Rover.
A magnesium cross beam runs the width of the dashboard, which has been left exposed and helps make the Defender more rigid. As you might expect, grab handles are included to help your passengers get in and give them something to hold over bumpy terrain.
Land Rover’s latest infotainment system is fitted. Controlled through a responsive 10-inch screen, you can access a range of functions and connect your smartphone through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is fitted as standard, too, and software updates happen over-the-air.
The bench seating from the old Defender is no longer available but the new Land Rover Defender will be able to carry up to eight people. All models come with the option of a third front-row seat (which no rivals offer), thanks to the off-road shifter being mounted on the dash. When it’s not in use, you can fold down the middle front seat to create an armrest and a storage cubby. The new 130 model will offer a third row of seats but it’ll be costly as it’ll only be offered on the top trim levels.
The mid-size 110 is likely to be the most popular choice and if you go for this version you’ll have 1,075 litres of boot space with the seats in position and a massive 2,300 litres with the rear seats folded. In the larger 130, there’s a 231-litre boot with all three rows up, which expands to 900 or 2,223 litres if you fold one or both seat rows respectively.
Engines and performance
As the 2020 Defender sits on a new platform, Jaguar Land Rover’s existing range of engines can be fitted. Two petrols and two diesels are available, badged P300, P400, D200 and D240. The first petrol produces 296bhp and propels the Defender from 0-62mph in a smidge over eight seconds. It’ll be the thirstiest in the range and, while fuel economy hasn’t yet been released for this engine, it produces 227g/km of carbon dioxide.
You can choose from 197bhp and 237bhp diesel engines, which allow the Defender to accelerate to 0-62mph in 9.9 and 9.1 seconds respectively. You should be able to achieve 37.2mpg in normal, on-road driving from either of these engines, and the CO2 output is 199g/km.
The range-topping P400 engine combines a 395bhp petrol engine (with a turbocharger and a supercharger) and a 48-volt battery. It’s by far the quickest version available - 0-62mph takes just 6.4 seconds - but its mild-hybrid system means the fuel economy isn’t terrible. From this engine you can expect almost 30mpg and 220g/km of CO2.
All versions feature four-wheel-drive and an automatic gearbox. The P400 engine may not remain the quickest model in the range; Jaguar Land Rover certainly won't overlook the booming market for luxury SUVs. Earlier in the development process, JLR design boss Gerry McGovern hinted 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.
Land Rover is confident that the new model is even more capable off-road than any previous factory-spec Defender. It can now wade through water up to 900mm deep - a whole 400mm more than the previous-generation car - and, when going through water, the car adjusts the suspension, closes the air vents and ensures the brakes continue to work. Approach angles have been improved so the car is less likely to ground itself when traversing a steep incline.
The company’s Terrain Response 2 system is fitted, and you can configure this to your individual preferences. All 110 and 130 variants get air suspension as standard, while it’s standard on the top-spec 90 and optional elsewhere.
The next-generation Defender has 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 also saw a prototype lapping the famous Nurburgring racetrack in Germany.
Prices and specifications
Prices have only been revealed for the mid-size 110 model so far. This car starts at £45,420 for a Defender with the entry-level diesel engine but you can spend as much as £78,800 on a hybrid Defender 110 before options. The smaller 90 model should kick off at around £40,000, while a Commercial version will be more utilitarian and will begin somewhere in the region of £35,000.
The entry-level model is simply called Defender, but it comes with LED headlights, a heated windscreen, heated and powered front seats and the 10-inch infotainment system. Not only does this feature smartphone mirroring but it also includes Land Rover’s ClearSight Ground View camera, which can show you what’s in front of the vehicle off-road.
Upgrade to the Defender S and you’ll get 19-inch alloy wheels and a leather steering wheel, while SE brings larger wheels, blind-spot assistance, an ISOFIX mounting on the front seat (110 model only) and premium LED headlights. Above that is HSE, which adds matrix LED lights, cooled front seats, adaptive cruise control and a panoramic glass sunroof.
The top-spec X model brings design tweaks, a black roof, a head-up display, heated rear seats and the Terrain Response 2 software but you can only get it with the hybrid powertrain.
You can add a range of accessory and option packs, called ‘Adventure’, ‘Country’, ‘Explorer’ and ‘Urban’. All in all, you can choose from a dizzying 170 options, plus seven paint colours and 12 wheel designs.
See how the new Defender compares to the best 4x4s and SUVs you can buy in 2019.