Land Rover is almost ready to introduce the next-generation Defender, a model it proudly calls one of its key brand pillars. The hotly-anticipated SUV will wear a historic name, and it will remain exceptionally capable off-road, but it won’t be a retro-styled interpretation of its predecessor. It will be modern inside and out, and full of useful tech features. While we’re not supposed to see the truck until the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show opens its doors, photos taken on the set of the next James Bond movie and posted online by an Instagram user have revealed it ahead of schedule.
What does it look like?
Uploaded by user Shedlocktwothousand, the photo gives us our first look at the Defender without camouflage. It confirms pedestrian safety norms and the basic principles of aerodynamics prevented Land Rover from giving the next-generation Defender a boxy design. The company’s stylists weren’t interested in going retro, either. Up front, the Defender ditches the boxy front end and upright grille worn by its predecessor and adopts a softer-looking design that borrows styling cues from other 4x4s in the Land Rover family. Out back, it keeps a door-mounted spare tire in a bid to appease purists.
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I’m not going to get in trouble for this — because it’s all over #facebook at the moment! Here is what looks like the first uncovered #defender2020 — straight (apparently) from the film set of the new #bond movie! Makes sense! A few things come to mind. Firstly, the winch is excellent. Secondly, the alpine windows are still there! Thirdly, the rear passenger door looks massive — you’ll never open that in a Tesco car park! Fourthly, there seems to be quite a bit of wheel clearance (though it’s unknown if this is standard height, off road height, or on coils!). Fifthly, checker on the bonnet (yes, the bonnet is a funny shape and there is no real wing to speak of). Sixthly, I’m not sure about the mirrors at all. Seventhly…. well, this could clearly go on a bit! #landroverdefender #allnewdefender #landroverdefender #landrover #thebest4x4xfar #landrovertheworldover #landroverworld #bignews #didntmakefrankfurt #someonesheadwillrollforthis #spyshot #spyfilm #jamesbondfilmset #allnewdefender2020 #newdefender #newdefendernews #newlandroverdefender #defender #landroverdefender #landroverdefender110 #defender110
The Defender portfolio will range from a relatively basic off-roader to a full-on luxury chariot positioned as an alternative to the timeless Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Credible rumors claim it will ride on a unibody platform instead of using a body-on-frame architecture, a move expected to boost fuel efficiency by saving a tremendous amount of weight, but company boss Ralf Speth stressed the SUV will still be “exceptional.” It will certainly have the DNA to become one of the best off-roaders on the market. Buyers will have five powertrains — including a plug-in hybrid — ranging from 200 to 400 horsepower to choose from. All-wheel drive and an automatic transmission will come standard regardless of what’s under the hood.
What are the specs?
Speaking of what’s under the hood, Land Rover can’t seem to keep a lid on the Defender. Leaked slides published on an enthusiast forum called Disco4 revealed most of its specifications. The lineup will include three different variants of the Defender named 90″, 110″, and 130″, respectively. These are historic names the company used on the last-generation model, but they no longer correspond to the wheelbase. The 90″ is a two-door model with five or six seats, the 110″ is a four-door with up to seven seats, and the 130″ is a long-wheelbase four-door variant with seating for up to eight passengers. The slides make no mention of a pickup, the body style the 130″ nameplate used to denote.
The global palette of engines will be wide. Off-roaders seeking the torque of a turbodiesel will have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter V6 to choose from. Commuters who want the refinement of a gasoline-powered engine will also be asked to choose four or six cylinders. Finally, a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of powering the Defender on electricity alone will also be available. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission will come standard regardless of engine type.
Will it speak tech?
The original Defender was introduced in 1983 — not 1948 as many claim — and it changed little during its production run. By 2015, its last full calendar year in production, it had become endearingly obsolete. We had a blast driving one of the last examples to be built through a French forest but concluded it felt, sounded, and drove like a vehicle from another era. The new one coming out in the fall of 2019 was developed to feel, sound, and drive like a true 21st-century luxury SUV.
“Technology is going to be mandatory in the new Defender. You simply can’t build this kind of vehicle without it anymore. You can’t achieve the emissions levels, and you cannot achieve the CO2 levels required of vehicles these days,” Speth said in a recent interview with Australian website CarAdvice.
Even entry-level models will come relatively well equipped with features like a 10-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, a seven-inch digital instrument cluster, LED headlights, and a six-speaker sound system. Land Rover will reward buyers who move up in the trim hierarchy with 18-way power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, a 14-speaker sound system, and a long list of electronic driving aids, features the original truck could only dream of.
“It requires a state-of-the-art design and technology in this kind of vehicle, so looking only forward, not backward,” Speth added.
The 2020 Land Rover Defender will break cover in September 2019 at the biennial Frankfurt Auto Show, and it will go on sale globally shortly after. It was developed with the United States in mind from the get-go, so we won’t miss out on it. The 90″ will arrive in March of 2020, while the 130″ won’t make its debut until October 2020. While pricing information hasn’t been released yet, don’t expect to spend less than $50,000 on a new Defender.
Updated August 27, 2019: Added leaked photos.