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Land Rover inches closer to all-new Defender reveal
New-generation Land Rover Defender commences final stage of testing in Kenya
30 Apr 2019
LAND Rover’s highly anticipated all-new Defender off-road SUV is now undergoing its final stage of testing in Kenya, where a prototype is serving as a donor vehicle for wildlife conservation charity Tusk Trust.
By the time the new Defender is revealed towards the end of the year, Land Rover will have conducted over 45,000 individual tests on its legendary off-roader in a broad range of conditions and environments.
The Tusk Trust prototype will be used at Kenya’s Borana Conservatory where it will tow heavy loads and carry supplies across the conservatory’s 14,000 hectares of unforgiving terrain, including river crossings.
Land Rover has a partnership with Tusk Trust dating back 15 years, which Jaguar Land Rover executive director of product engineering Nick Rogers said provided a great opportunity to fine-tune the Defender.
“In addition to the extensive simulation and rig testing, we’ve driven new Defender 1.2 million kilometres across all terrains and in extreme climates to ensure that it is the toughest and most capable Land Rover ever made,” he said.
“The incredible opportunity to put it to the test in the field, supporting operations at the Borana Conservancy in Kenya, with Tusk, will allow our engineers to verify that we are meeting this target as we enter the final phase of our development programme.”
Few concrete details of the Defender have been released, however it is understood it will continue to fly the off-road flag for the brand while improving the comfort and refinement of its rough-and-ready predecessor.
It has been tested in temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius down to -40 degrees inside the Arctic Circle, while venturing as high as 10,000 feet into Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to ensure seamless operation in a range of conditions.
On-road dynamics tests are being held at the Nurburgring in Germany, while the Defender’s off-road chops have been honed in a range of environments including muddy Eastnor, UK, the rocky trails of Moab, Utah, and the sand dunes of Dubai.
The new Defender will be constructed at a purpose-built facility in Slovakia, and will forego the rugged ladder-frame chassis and live axles of its predecessor for a more modern and comfortable monocoque chassis and independent suspension all round that Land Rover says will “ bring unparalleled breadth of capability and new levels of comfort and driveability to the Defender family”.
No details have been released on the powertrains that will underpin the new Defender, however it is expected the 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder engine will power cheaper versions, while a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder Ingenium donk will be employed on higher-end variants. Mild and plug-in hybrid variants will also be on offer.
As with the outgoing model, three wheelbase lengths – 90, 110 and 130 inches – will be offered, in three- and five-door wagon style as well as with a pick-up body.
Camouflage shots suggest the Defender will wear evolutionary styling that hints at the boxy dimensions of the original while incorporating Land Rover’s modern design language.
More details on the Defender will be released when the model is unveiled later this year.
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