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Next Land Rover Defender 'more capable'

Line of defence: Land Rover has not released images of a potential Defender replacement since the DC100 concept broke cover in Frankfurt more than three years ago.

Land Rover says next-generation Defender will go beyond iconic original

Land Rover logo7 Apr 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER in NEW YORK

LAND Rover's iconic Defender four-wheel drive is nearing the end of a significant 32-year saga, but the British car-maker says its replacement will bring the charm of the outgoing model and even more off-road prowess.

While the final working moniker has not been confirmed, the company is far enough down the development of the new vehicle to talk about its attributes, including its styling and critical off-road ability.

While the Defender may not have changed greatly since the first version was introduced in 1983, it is still one of the most potent all-terrain vehicles available on the Australian market today, but Land Rover says a replacement “has to be more capable than the original”.

Speaking at the New York International Auto Show, Land Rover design director and chief creative officer Gerry McGovern told Australian media the next-generation Defender had to incorporate 32 years of evolution to fit a modern market.

“The reality is we can't design a car like that anymore because it doesn't meet regulations and it's built using archaic manufacturing techniques,” he said.

“It needs to be thoroughly modern and relevant and it needs to capture the essence of the original and the honesty of it. And it will be great.

“The important thing is relevance. They need to be relevant to a world that has changed massively from when the original Defender was created.”

The existing model's modular construction has allowed the Defender to morph into many versatile variants including a short-wheelbase 90, longer 110, closed cab and ute tray versions and Mr McGovern said the replacement will offer similar choices.

But despite conforming to much stricter modern regulations, a new vehicle would capture the desirable qualities that has made the Defender famous.

24 center imageLeft: Land Rover's Defender launched in 1983 but owes its roots to the original Land Rover Series that started in 1948.

“The new generation of Defender – there will be a family of them,” said Mr McGovern.

“One of the reasons it is loved so much is because it's so familiar. It's been around for 65 years. Through familiarity, sometimes it breeds contempt and sometimes it breeds affection.

“It will be incredibly durable and it has to be more capable than the original.”

Land Rover's freshly appointed engineering executive director Nick Rogers said he had closely consulted customers and longstanding Defender aficionados, and was confident the Defender successor would honour the original as well as bringing new qualities.

“It's an awesome challenge when you are replacing an icon,” he said. “If it comes from a passionate heart, we generally do the right thing.

“When you reinvent an icon you have to think about which essence of the icon do you want to take and move on with. We promise not to disappoint.

“It's got to be the best off road... it would be an insult if it didn't.

“At the end of the day, with the guys that love Defender, as long as it's got that pioneering spirit, as long as it's incredible off road, as long as it's a stunning vehicle they'll be happy.

“They want it to be awesome and so do we.”

The original Land Rover Defender bloodline will come to an end this year after a run spanning more than three decades, and 67 years since the Land Rover nameplate was created.

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Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.