New Land Rover Defender revealed
Land Rover has revealed its second generation Defender wagon 71 years after the original helped forge an adventurous off-road spirit and cement the British brand as a manufacturer of tough and capable 4x4s.
Unlike the simple original Land Rover that emerged in the shadow of World War II, the all-new Defender successor is loaded with technology - including optional hybrid set-ups, air suspension and over-the-air software updates - and drops old school styling for modern curves with minimalist details.
Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern says it is "respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it".
"This is a new Defender for a New Age," he says. "The new Defender has had to be designed for a world that has changed beyond recognition from when the original was created."
The original Land Rovers (later Defenders) were used in construction of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme and have appeared regularly on the big screen, including in 007 blockbusters.
As well as appealing to hardcore off-roaders Land Rover believes added comfort levels - this is the first Defender with arm rests on the door - will help it appeal to a broader audience, including city slickers who dream of adventuring to the bush.
Defender take two is the culmination of more than a decade of planning, market research and engineering - including a failed concept car that was ridiculed by the Defender faithful - to replace one of the world's most iconic off-roaders and a car that is the heart of the Land Rover brand.
"They are the toughest, most capable Land Rovers ever made - period," says McGovern.
Due in Australia in 2020, the new Defender will initially be offered in two bodies, the three-door 90 and five-door 110. A larger 130 is expected within two years.
However, whereas those numbers correlated with the wheelbase in inches of the original Defender, for the new car they have been carried over for sentimental reasons.
Underneath, the new Defender is wildly different from the original.
Instead of a steel truck-like ladder-frame chassis it uses an car-like monocoque made of aluminium. And instead of aluminium body panels of the original (chosen because of excess aluminium supply from fighter plane manufacturing after World War II) the new car uses mostly steel panels.
Whereas all Defenders and the Land Rover Series cars that preceded them had solid axles, the new car has independent suspension front and rear as well as adjustable height air suspension, which will be optional on the 90 and standard on the 110.
The new Defender will be offered with a plug-in hybrid set-up for the first time, pairing an electric motor with a petrol engine.
It also marks the debut of a new inline six-cylinder petrol engine, which will be teamed with a 48V mild hybrid system.
Two 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engines are expected to account for the bulk of sales.
Inside, the cabin features levels of luxury unheard of in a Defender, including the latest connectivity and a 10.0-inch touchscreen fitted to an exposed metal crossbeam that forms part of the dash.
Merdian sound systems with up to 15 speakers pumping out 500W of noise.
A new electrical architecture is claimed to have 85 ECUs (or computers) turning the Defender into "an all-terrain supercomputer capable of handling 21,000 network messages at any one time".
Like a Tesla, it can also receive over-the-air software updates via twin in-built SIM cards to ensure the car is connected whenever it is in mobile range.
As well as three engine options for Australia and two body styles there are six model grades - basic Defender, S, SE, HSE, Defender X and First Edition.
Land Rover has also developed 170 accessories covering everything from an inflatable tent and folding ladder to a winch and snorkel. There's also a sustainably manufactured and recyclable removable wrap to protect the paint from scratches from trees and shrubs.
Associated merchandise includes a backpack that doubles as a rear arm rest and a belt with a six-tonne tensile strength.
Land Rover has grouped various accessories into four easily marketed packs: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban.
The new Defender 110 is due in dealerships in June 2020 with the 90 to follow later in the year.
Land Rover says the 110 will be priced from about $70,000, plus on-road costs.
The 90 should start at about $60,000.