This Will Be The First PHEV Land Rover Defender… Eventually
We would not want to be on Land Rover’s skin when it comes to replacing the Defender. The iconic off-roader had to die due to ever more stringent emission regulations, but Land Rover could not afford not to have it on its lineup anymore. So it developed an entirely new one. The first to ever have a PHEV version, even if only in 2020. The question is: will it offer what the old Defender did?
Before we answer that, let’s introduce you to the new Defender. Land Rover did not give us much info on the future PHEV version. It just said it will be released with the most expensive engine, the six-cylinder Ingenium turbocharged gas engine with 395 hp (400 ps). It will be called P400e PHEV. Be sure it will be far from the affordable definition for a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
The car was expected to have the new MLA architecture, but Land Rover says it uses the D7x, which seems to be an evolution of the D7a already in use. The British carmaker says it is 95 percent new. Or else, 5 percent of the Defender’s platform is already in use at other cars.
This new platform makes the new Defender be the first one ever to use a monocoque structure. Land Rover assures this is the stiffest monocoque it has ever produced, with a rigidity of 30 kNm/Degree. What is not exactly impressive. The Nio ES8 has a torsional rigidity of 44.14 kNm/Degree.
The Defender will be sold with the 90 and the 110 bodies, like the original one.
The 90 is 170.2 in (4.32 m) long without the spare wheel. With it, length grows to 180.4 in (4.58 m). Height also depends on the type of suspension adopted. The regular coil suspension makes it be 77.7 in (1.97 m) tall. The air suspension places the top of the Defender a little lower, at 77.5 in (1.97 m). It is also 78.7 in (2 m) wide and has a wheelbase of 101.9 in (2.59 m).
The Defender 90 can have up to six seats, with five of them as standard. Its approach angle is 30.1 degrees with the air suspension, but it can get to 38 degrees in Off-Road Height.
Departure angle is 37.6 degrees, also able to reach 40 degrees. Breakover angle is 24.2/31 degrees. Ground clearance is 8.5 in (216 mm), but Off-Road Height puts it at 11.5 in (291 mm).
The Defender 110 differs from the 90 by being longer: 187.3 in (4.76 m) without the spare wheel or 197.6 in (5.02 m) with it. Its wheelbase is 119 in (3.02 m). The other measures are the same ones the 90 presents with an air suspension and Land Rover does not specify the coil option for it, which leads us to believe the 110 features the air suspension as standard.
Departure and approach angle for the 110 are the same ones presented by the 90. Only the breakover angle changes, for obvious reasons: it is 22 degrees with the suspension at its normal height and 28 degrees with Off-Road Height.
Both the Defender 90 and 100 stand 45-degree side slopes and inclines. They will also have four engine options, composed of four and six-cylinder gas and diesel units. There are five version options, soon to be just four: S, SE, HSE, First Edition, and X. The First Edition will only be for sale for the first year of production.
Defender buyers will have four options of accessory packs: Explorer, Adventure, Country, and Urban.
Although the closest option for an electric Defender is only the PHEV – still to be presented – Land Rover will follow a strategy from Tesla: Over-The-Air updates for up to 14 electronic control modules, also called ECUs. The new Defender has 85 of them. OTA updates will probably be more evident in the infotainment system and similar ECUs.
Two very cool features the Defender will present are the Satin Protective Film, a factory-wrap, and the ClearSight Ground View, formerly called Transparent Bonnet. It shows what is right ahead of the car on the central touchscreen.
With the proper introduction a completely new car deserves – especially one to fit such large shoes as the former Defender’s – it is time to try to answer the question we did at the very beginning of this text.
When the first Defender/Series came to life, there was nothing quite like it around. It had an aluminum body that made it almost indestructible. JLR says about 80 percent of all Defenders and Series I, II, and III ever built still run. It was very mechanical, which allowed it to be easily fixed in the middle of the jungle. It was very capable. Things have changed a lot since 1948.
Competition is now fierce. Besides all combustion-engined off-roaders the new Defender will have to beat, it will also have to deal with the Bollinger B1, a full-electric vehicle.
It has retained most of what did the Defender an icon, such as form-follows-function design, front and rear locking differentials, and transfer case. It also offers things that are even above what the Defender ever offered, such as 20-in of ground clearance, disconnecting sway bars, and a self-leveling suspension, as this article already presented.
Defender fans will have to get used to electronics and the automatic gearbox that is standard. Most will surely miss a clutch pedal and the levers the original had. The new one will probably be more about buttons.
If the Defender is already adapting to new times, why won’t it offer an all-electric version, as the Bollinger B1? Will it wait for the future Project Grenadier from Ineos to do so? Or will Bollinger have a production output that will help it compete with mainstream automakers such as Land Rover? The British company is the only one able to answer.