The long awaited new Defender is pencilled in to be revealed in 2019, and it will have an important role in the Land Rover’s SUV family. Although it is to be as off-road capable as all Defenders before, the design will not be limited by its heritage, even though the valued bloodline is still highly respected.
“I do think it needs to acknowledge the great heritage of Defender in terms of its capabilities, durability and is robustness but not necessarily in terms of its visual quality,” said Land Rover’s chief creative officer, Gerry McGovern at the Los Angeles Auto Show, whilst talking to Australian media.
So it appears that Land Rover are prepared to disappoint its most hardened fans. “Not everyone will like it,” said McGovern. The Defender will retain the original’s rugged off-road abilities, but he conceded the car’s modernised exterior design won’t be dictated by the ageless appeal of its predecessor that only recently ceased production changing little in its 69 years of manufacture.
“If the loyalists are expecting a facsimile of the old one with all this new technology, then I don’t think they’ll be pleased. The reality is the loyalists are loyalists and they love their Defenders, but they probably won’t buy a new one because they love the old one. This vehicle will have to appeal to a new generation by virtue of its scale, it will need to sell in much bigger numbers than the original. And in order to get the investment back that’s going into it, it will be a global vehicle and it will have to bring more people to the brand,” said McGovern. He’s calling it “polarizing.”
Without giving away any intimate details, other than confirming the vehicle won’t feature any exposed rivets – a signature design cue of the original – he admitted the design “in its entirety is complete” and the engineering division has completed construction of the first series of prototype vehicles.
Remember, Land Rover first teased the future of the Defender when it revealed the DC100 concept car at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.
So, think of it as a British rock band releasing fresh, new material instead of a “Best of” compilation album. As Spinal Tap once put it, Hope you like our new direction …