Dr. Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover finally has something of substance to say about the long-awaited Defender replacement. “It’s sensational.”
The new Defender’s development has so far taken place in almost complete secrecy. There has been so little information coming from Solihull that many wondered if the company had anything substantial in the works. Now, Speth has finally come forward and thrown out a few morsels of information.
First, the vehicle’s development has reached a stage where prototype vehicles are being tested.
Speth says, “I have driven test mules already, and also tried the car against competitors, in on- and off-road environments.”
Coming into 2016, JLR was having trouble reconciling competing concerns of the Defender’s replacement – the need for it to live up to its thoroughbred off-road heritage, comply with current environmental and safety regulations, and still generate profits for the company.
To accomplish that, Land Rover will need to build the Defender around components from other Land Rover vehicles. Which is well in keeping with how Land Rover has always operated. The first Defenders used the axles and suspension from the Range Rover line, which in turn shared parts with earlier Land Rovers.
In order to be compatible with Land Rover’s designs, the new Defender will need to employ the same lightweight aluminum chassis construction as used on the rest of the current Land Rover fleet. Fuel economy numbers will be helped by the lightweight chassis and surely the vehicles will employ Land Rovers new, more efficient engines, and a diesel engine variant will certainly be welcomed on these shores.
Also as with Defenders of the past, there is likely to be a number of Special Vehicle Options available. The ability to deliver rugged, purpose-built offroaders for industry and agriculture will be a core element of the new model’s marketability beyond the recreational 4×4 set, and its ability to compete with other 4×4’s in its class such as Toyota Land Cruiser and Mercedes G-Class.
As one might expect if one has been inside of any Land Rover built in the last 10 years, the company expects that the vehicle will, in the words of Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern. “be able to do everything it says on the tin.”
McGovern also says that an SVR version would eventually be available, along with a luxury SVAutobiography to go with the SVA Range Rover offerings, and an SVX Model, drawing on the popularity of the hard-core off-road SVX versions created for the original Defender line.
To sum it all up, CEO Speth says,
We are working an authentic successor of the predecessor. I have to say it was one of my saddest moments in my career at Jaguar Land Rover, when we stopped the production line of this vehicle, because I just love it. But we will make a successor to this vehicle and you can be sure it will be even more capable. Nevertheless, it will have the DNA of the current car.
Adds McGovern, “When you see the new Defender, people will know it’s worthy of carrying the badge.”
Rumors are that the car will be available for the 2019 model year, and will likely be built alongside its brand mates at the Solihull factory.
Note: The article appeared in part or entirety on the Atlantic British news blog.