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Land Rover have re-imagined the icon in a tech-laden new avatar, while still maintaining the trademark ruggedness of the original.
Land Rover has unveiled the new Defender, an icon that has been part of the Land Rover portfolio for seven decades. Externally, the lines on the new Defender make it instantly recognisable, albeit with modern elements. For now, the Defender will be seen in two variants, the 110 and the shorter wheelbase 90, before a pair of practical commercial models joins the line-up in 2020.
In keeping with the utilitarian character of the original, structural elements and fixings which are usually hidden from view have been kept exposed. The dash-mounted gear shifter means that there is more space beside the driver for a ‘jump’ seat, which accommodates three people in the front row, similar to early Defenders. Also carried over are the side-hinged rear tailgate and externally-mounted spare wheel, along with the trademark upright stance. The inclusion of Alpine windows on the roof is a way for Land Rover designers to re-envision and update familiar Defender trademarks.
The Defender 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations, with a luggage space behind the second-row seats of up to 1075 litres, and as much as 2380 litres with the second row folded. The Defender 90 will be able to accommodate six occupants in a vehicle the length of a compact family hatchback. Also on offer is a full-length fabric roof to allow second-row passengers in the Defender 110 to stand up when parked to provide the full ‘safari’ experience.
Now, just because the Defender is rugged does not mean it can’t be luxurious. In fact, he next-generation Pivi Pro software is inspired by the latest smartphones and accessed through the central 10-inch touchscreen with an always-on design that provides instant responses, even when starting the vehicle for the first time.
Customers can even keep tabs on the Defender from afar, using Land Rover’s Remote tracking technology, which allows owners to monitor its location, fuel level, lock and unlock the vehicle and even initiate the climate control to heat or cool the cabin before setting off.
Finally, and most importantly for Land Rover, is the inclusion of 14 onboard electronic control modules, more than any previous Jaguar Land Rover vehicle, can receive updates, without the need to visit a Land Rover retailer, as software updates are sent to the vehicle and downloaded in the background using the vehicle’s built-in data plan, or can be downloaded via a satellite phone when in remote locations.
The model range comprises Defender, First Edition and top of the range Defender X models, as well as standard, S, SE, HSE specification packs. Customers can further personalise their vehicle with four Accessory Packs, namely the Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs, each giving the Defender a distinct character with a specially selected range of enhancements. The exclusive First Edition model, featuring unique specifications will be available throughout the first year of production.
Land Rover’s new D7x (for extreme) architecture is based on a lightweight aluminium monocoque construction that, as the brand claims, is the stiffest body structure Land Rover has ever produced. The new body architecture provides a ground clearance of 291 mm, giving the Defender 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees respectively. Its maximum wading depth of 900 mm is supported by a new Wade programme in the Terrain Response 2 system, and on dry land, Land Rover’s ClearSight Ground View technology shows drivers the area usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen.
The Defender gets a choice of petrol and diesel engines, with a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) powertrain set to join the range in 2020. The petrol line-up includes a four-cylinder P300 making 296 bhp and 400Nm of torque and a six-cylinder P400 making 395bhp and 550Nm of torque, while also featuring a Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle tech comprised of 14 X 8Ah lithium-ion pouch cells that can store up to 200Wh of energy, supplemented by a Belt-Integrated Starter Generator that harvests energy when you lift off the pedal, redeploying it with upto 142.5 Nm of electronic torque to aid transient acceleration. Additionally, the engine shuts off below 3kmph. Also on offer are a pair of four-cylinder diesels – the D200 making 197bhp and D240 making 237bhp, with both the engines making an identical 430Nm of torque.