The first Land Rover Defender Spy shots have emerged, showing the prototype 4x4 testing on UK roads. After first going into production in 1948, Land Rover stopped selling the 1st-generation Defender in 2016, and has been working on a replacement for several years. The brand has confirmed the successor will go into production in 2020.
LAND ROVER DEFENDER SPOTTED ON UK ROADS FOR FIRST TIME
Unprecedented speculation has surrounded the design of the new model, as fans and the world’s press clamour to discover if Land Rover will radically alter the Defender’s iconic looks, or pay tribute to the original. Even with large amounts of cladding as part of the prototype’s disguise, it’s obvious that Land Rover has kept the original model’s tall and boxy silhouette in five-door guise.
Commenting on the photos, a spokesperson said: "Jaguar Land Rover runs a wide range of engineering and technology development programmes. We are unable to comment on the specific nature of these programmes.
However we can confirm that the Defender programme is progressing well and has reached an exciting stage of its development." She added “We can confirm that customers around the world will be taking delivery of, and enjoying, Defender again from 2020."
The new vehicle’s most noticeable design features are the same tall shape as the original, with an upright windscreen, near vertical tailgate and heavily flared wheelarches. A door handle to the left of the boot also suggests it will be side opening, just like its predecessor. Small, circular rear lights can also be seen arranged vertically and low down, in a likely move to replicate the design hallmark.
However, the headlights appear to be square, in a departure from the original’s circular lamps. The disguise also suggest a flat bonnet lurks beneath it, while the nose looks likely to share some similarities with the Discovery – although this could be a deliberate ploy to mask its looks.
With five doors, the prototype we captured is likely to be the successor to the Defender 110, but a much shorter development mule has previously been spotted winter testing, suggesting it could also be offered in a bodystyle akin to the short-wheelbase Defender 90.
Rear shots show that the Defender has independent rear suspension and an exhaust mounted high enough to protect it from knocks during serious off-road endeavours. To maintain its reputation, Land Rover will be looking to make the Defender a class-leader in the rough stuff. Electrification could even help improve its ability, with Land Rover already specifying that all its models from 2020 will be electrified. Jaguar Land Rover has already shown that electric motors can boost off-road ability with its Jaguar I-Pace SUV, instantly adjusting torque to individual wheels to boost traction.
Rather than one model, it’s likely the Defender name will spawn a family of vehicles, in a similar fashion to the Discovery and Range Rover nameplates. If this is the case, the Defender range could include a more utilitarian model, performance versions with a road and off-road focus (possibly badged SVR and SVX respectively) and a luxury model overseen by Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) and wearing the Autobiography moniker.
What is certain is that the new Defender will make use of Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium engines, with a variety of different power outputs possible from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit. In other Jaguar Land Rover models, the powerplant manages anything from 148 to 237bhp, and features both single- and twin-turbocharged configurations.
“The brand has confirmed the successor will go into production in 2020.”