Set to be unveiled fully at the Frankfurt motor show, we've got all you need to know on the reborn 4x4 icon here
James Attwood, digital editor
5 August 2019

Land Rover is readying the 2020 Defender for its hotly anticipated unveiling at September's Frankfurt motor show, and has entered a new stage of testing in partnership with the Red Cross.

With just over a month until the Defender's now-familiar camouflage is removed, a prototype has been assessed on Dubai's sand dunes and highways under the supervision of off-road experts from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). 

Temperatures in the desert were said to be in excess of 40deg C, while the on-road segment saw the Defender climb to an altitude of almost 2000m. 

The tests come as Land Rover renews its 65-year-old partnership with the IFRC, which will see the company's vehicles participate in disaster preparation and response programmes worldwide over the next three years. 

The last public outing of the new Defender was the 2019 Festival of Speed, where is was the the first car to tackle the famous Goodwood hillclimb. A camouflaged prototype, which made its public dynamic debut at the event, was driven up the hill by the Duke of Richmond. 

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Another prototype was given to wildlife charity Tusk Trust for field testing in Kenya as part of its global engineering development programme. In the shots, it is seen pulling loaded trailers, carrying supplies and tracking lions across the Trust's 14,000-hectare reserve in Kenya. 

New Land Rover Defender: design, styling and size

The long-awaited Defender reboot was earlier previewed in digital form, with a leaked shot appearing to show the 4x4's instrument dial display. The shot, sent to Autocar by an anonymous reader and first posted in various Land Rover forums, seems to have come from a development prototype judging by the fabric around the edge, usually used to keep the interior away from prying eyes.

It shows the new Defender will feature familiar styling cues from the original, including a vertical rear tailgate at a 90 degree angle from the roof, a wraparound roof edge with rear sunroof and, of course, the classic rear-mounted spare wheel. While a screen render such as this won't be totally accurate, it still gives us a good glimpse of Land Rover's landmark debut well in advance.

Leaked details last month confirmed the expectation that there would be three sizes of Defender offered, with two available from initial launch.

The range will centre around the short-wheelbase ’90’ and medium-wheelbase 110 variants for the first two years of its life-cycle. In 2022, an even larger ‘130’ variant will be added to the range. 

The Defender 90 is described as the “halo image icon” of the Defender and is aimed at “the young, affluent fun seekers”. It’ll be available in five an six-seat options, suggesting a three-abreast front seat is possible. 

The 90 is also a surprisingly compact machine, at 4.323m long. It is marginally the tallest of the three variants, at 1.927m. The wheelbase measures just 2.587m. All three Defenders are the same width at 1.999m. 

The 110 is described as the “definitive” model in the family, available in five, six and seven-seat forms. It’s aimed a “couples, the self-employed and adventurers”. The 110 is 4.758m long and has a longer 3.022m wheelbase, while it’’s 11mm lower. 

Topping the range eventually will be the 130, described as a “Premium explorer” for “families, active lifestyle and travel”. It’ll be 5.1m long and come with eight seats, despite the same wheelbase as the 110, suggesting a substantial rear overhang.  

Recent spyshots also showed a 'workhorse' variant will be part of the 4x4's lineup. The rugged model, seen in smallest '90' spec with more camouflage than the usual prototypes, can be seen to feature basic steel wheels  - usually a clear indicator of a more utilitarian version. Couple that with a fully covered up body from the doors backwards and it seems highly likely this is the planned 'Utility' variant without rear windows. 

The commercial variant of the Defender has traditionally been core to the car's sales appeal, with its simple, go-anywhere nature appealing to everyone from farmers to engineers. That's expected to continue with this car, despite a variety of more expensive and luxurious range additions on the cards. 

New Land Rover Defender: engines, powertrain and chassis

Under the bonnet of the 90 and 110 models, there will be a choice of three petrol and three diesel engines in 2020 and 2021 and all Defenders will come as standard with an autobox and all-wheel drive. 

The diesel units will be offered in D200, D240 (four cylinder) and D300 300bhp (straight six) forms, with 0-62mph times of around 10.0sec, 8.3sec and 7.4sec respectively. It’s understood the D300 will be the only diesel engine offered in North American markets and arrives for the 2021 model year.

Three petrol Defender engines - the P300P400 and the P400e Plug-in Hybrid - will be on sale immediately. These are thought to all be straight-six units, and will be sold in the US, where many states adhere to the same strict ‘SULEV’ pollution regime as California. According to the leak, the plug-in P400 offers a torque boost from 400Nm to 645Nm and a 5.9sec 0-62mph time, Autocar understands.

The new model sits on independent rear suspension for better comfort and a new monocoque chassis replaces the body-on-frame construction of the old car. This will make it more rigid, lighter and more modular, allowing for numerous bodystyles to be offered. Some use of aluminium is likely to bring the weight down further still.

New Land Rover Defender: specs, equipment and technology

There will be three base models in the Defender line-up, the first-year production X, Standard and, for 2021, the X-Dynamic. The high-end X will offer a fixed spec and "limited options" for 2021, before being offered with a wider spec.

The Defender X will be sold in powerful P300 and P400e petrol forms in 2020, with the D300 diesel being added to a lengthened options list in 2021.

The Defender Standard will be available with the full range of engine options from launch, aside from the D300 which arrives in 2021. 

Customers will be able to select a further three specification levels: S, SE and HSE. 

According to the leaked presentation slides, the Standard specification Defenders will get 18in wheels, LED headlamps, eight-way adjustable fabric front seats, a 140W audio system with six speakers, a 7in instrument cluster and a 10in touchscreen.

S’ specification Defenders add front fog lamps, 12-way adjustable "semi-powered" seats in "Performance" fabric and a 12in digital instrument cluster.

The SE gets 20in "Apollo" wheels, Premium LED headlights with high beam assist, powered rear-view mirrors and a passive entry system, 14-way adjustable electric front seats, a 370W Meridian audio system with 10 speakers and automatic parking.

Defender HSE models gets Matrix LED headlamps, 18-way adjustable Windsor leather electric memory seats with climate control and what JLR calls a "Drive Pack and Park Pack".

The launch ‘X’ model gets darkened 20in wheels and tail-lights, more highly-specced front seats and a "Co-Pilot" pack. 

On top of this, JLR will offer four option packs (Capability, Interior Upgrade, Exterior and Convenience) as well as stand-alone options. Accessories - badged as Explorer, Adventure, Urban and Country - will also be offered by dealers. Clearly, JLR is looking to take advantage of the likely enthusiasm around the new Defender by trying to attract high-spending private buyers

New Land Rover Defender: prices, release date and production

There’s no definitive news on pricing, though Autocar has heard from one source close to JLR that the ‘Standard’ spec Defender 90 with be priced from £40,000, suggesting the higher-spec versions will be distinctly premium-priced.

Some sources are also suggesting that the Defender will succeed with affluent families where the latest Discovery has failed to catch buyer’s imaginations. 

Land Rover has also confirmed that, as expected, the new Defender will be built alongside the Discovery at Jaguar Land Rover's new £1 billion manufacturing plant in Slovakia. That could prove somewhat controversial, given the Defender's status as a proudly British machine, although Land Rover has noted that all the design and development work was undertaken at its Gaydon base.

Due to go into production at the start of 2020, the rugged 4x4 was also previously spotted testing in North America. Engineers were said to be subjecting the Toyota Land Cruiser rival to "rigorous test extremes", including temperatures as low as -40deg C and as high as 48deg C, as well as at altitudes of up to 13,000 feet. 

Celebrating the Land Rover Defender

 

 

“Our brand is about passion, and it is icons that drive that passion," said Jaguar Land Rover marketing chief Felix Bräutigam. "The truth is the world doesn’t need another premium brand doing what all the others do. These icons are what separate us; at Land Rover, we are rooted in our heritage and that’s what makes us different,” he added.

Bräutigam also said that he felt the time taken between the Defender going off sale in 2016 and relaunching could be a positive for the new car.

“If we had wanted to recreate the existing car then we could have moved quicker, but it is our view that for an icon to remain an icon it cannot only look backwards, but must move forwards too,” he said. “The new Defender will move the game on again, and having the benefit for some perspective in order to achieve that should be to our advantage.

“The one thing I can promise you is that the new Defender will do all that our customers expect of it, without being a copycat of what has gone before. It is a car for the modern world, and that means that it must move the game on if it is to be relevant.”

The aim for the new machine is to offer the “biggest breadth of capability of any model to wear the badge”.

The previous Defender went out of production in January 2016, and the firm has been working since then to develop a successor. The original Land Rover Series I, from which the Defender is derived, was launched more than 70 years ago in 1948.

Read more

New Land Rover Defender to expand into versatile family

James Ruppert on how to buy a used Defender

Land Rover Defender pick-up to rival Mercedes X-Class

Picture special: Land Rover at 70

Join the debate

Comments
157

2 October 2018

With posh pick-up's becoming ever more popular, X-Class etc, and farmers using them instead of old 'Landies' would a £33k Land Rover be such a dumb idea? Troll away

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

2 October 2018
xxxx wrote:

With posh pick-up's becoming ever more popular, X-Class etc, and farmers using them instead of old 'Landies' would a £33k Land Rover be such a dumb idea? Troll away

 

I agree with you, the new Defender will clearly be a big step away from the old one. But JLR’s course is so set... let’s hope make a good car, even if it’s not a faithful replacement for the dear old Landie.

30 April 2019
scrap wrote:

xxxx wrote:

With posh pick-up's becoming ever more popular, X-Class etc, and farmers using them instead of old 'Landies' would a £33k Land Rover be such a dumb idea? Troll away

 

I agree with you, the new Defender will clearly be a big step away from the old one. But JLR’s course is so set... let’s hope make a good car, even if it’s not a faithful replacement for the dear old Landie.

why would you replace the “dear old Landie” with something the same?, keep the general outline, but improve its icon status by making it perform even better than that “dear oldLandie”.

Peter Cavellini.

3 October 2018

It's not impossible for Land Rover to actually produce a Land Rover.   A basic utility vehicle that doesn't cost a fortune.

 

How?

 

You have to look at the pick-up trucks they make in the USA.   Body on chassis; exactly as a Land Rover should be.   If they can do it in the USA, why can't Land Rover do it now?

 

Here's a suggestion.   Get Ford to build it.   They've got the plant, you're in one of the biggest markets for this type of vehicle.   Why not use their build process to build a proper Land Rover?

 

3 October 2018

.... build a "classic" defender on a TATA chassis in India. Cheap as chips and ideal for the UN and various warring African militia, then get Kahn to bling one up and knock em out for £150K on the Kings Road.

I'm in the wrong job me. :)

4 June 2019
I think you comment wreaks of ignorance. Various warring African militia? How? I am surprised Autocar allow such statements to filter through.

1st loads of life anywhere in the world due to war should not be trivialised.

2nd - Africa is a continent rich in tradition and the idea that it's war ravaged is a clear lie that has no foundation.

Jagenaught

12 January 2019

New defender, too late, too expensive, the boat has been missed. Farmers are buying Japanese, more reliable and cheaper.

£40 k starting price, get real!! Buy an L200 or Hilux, basic tech and very reliable.

 

7 July 2019

I don’t think the Defender is aimed at farmers, there isn’t enough of them for starters.  The old Defender only attracted around 29,000 sales globally in its last year, the new one is aiming for 150k sales.  They’ll probably get them too such is the pent-up demand.  But the new customers won’t be farmers looking to ferry fence posts and sick sheep, that’s probably left to Polaris and the aforementioned picks ups.  I’m a 3 time Discovery owner and my next vehicle will be a Defender.

3 October 2018
xxxx wrote:

With posh pick-up's becoming ever more popular, X-Class etc, and farmers using them instead of old 'Landies' would a £33k Land Rover be such a dumb idea? Troll away

... Is more likely to be closer to 63k than 33k.

10 May 2019
Einarbb wrote:

xxxx wrote:

With posh pick-up's becoming ever more popular, X-Class etc, and farmers using them instead of old 'Landies' would a £33k Land Rover be such a dumb idea? Troll away

... Is more likely to be closer to 63k than 33k.

Emmm I think not, you can get a good Evoque AWD auto for £40k or a X-class from £35.5k

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week