Land Rover Defender returns at the IAA 2019

Author:Abhinand Venugopal

Land Rover has already hit all headlines with the public announcement of the all-new 2020 Defender. The British SUV marque has been testing the revival of the iconic Defender in the harshest environments possible — on-road and off-road. The SUV’s prototype was spotted on multiple occasions all around the world (even in India) and has even done a hill climb at the legendary Goodwood Festival of Speed. The company will pull off its covers in the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show 2019.

The extensive testing phase has covered close to a whopping 12,00,000 kilometres in total. Rocks, snow, gravel, mud and all sorts of tricky grounds have been used to test the capabilities of the vehicle. Unlike the original mostly-mechanical model, the latest Defender will sport all the sophisticated equipment to have the extra edge.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is yet to formally announce the technical specifications of the all-new Defender, but reports suggest that the SUV will be offered in three size formats; depicted by the variants: 90,110 and 130 (apparently an eight-seater). Of course, the interiors will be loaded with all the technology and luxury one would expect in Land Rover.

As far as rumours go, engine choices include a P300 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder pushing out 295bhp and 400Nm alongside a P400 3.0-litre turbo straight-six unit good for 395bhp and 550Nm of torque. A P400e hybrid powertrain is also in the charts.

To retain the original character, the 2020 Defender is designed in a way that it remains as boxy as possible without violating too much of the laws of physics or safety regulations. To the unassuming eye, the overall silhouette reminds of the current-generation Discovery.

Originally called the ‘Land Rover Ninety’ and ‘Land Rover One Ten’, the Defender was commercially introduced in 1983. It was based on the original Land Rover Series from the 1950s and production was stretched to 2016, with minimal cosmetic updates to the initial model.

Regarding the nomenclature, the ‘Ninety’ and ‘One Ten’ represented the vehicle’s wheelbase in inches. In 1985, the duo was accompanied by the ‘127’ — spanning 127 inches (3226mm) in wheelbase. However, the ‘Defender’ tag was officially coined only in late 1990. The reason why it had to be renamed was that Land Rover had introduced the Discovery and was left with no option other than to give the original ‘Land Rover Series’ a new name.

In its lifespan, the Defender has employed engines from Ford, Jaguar and even BMW, while the transmission choices were mostly manual. There have been many special editions of the Defender such as the Defender 50th, Heritage, SVX and most importantly, the 2018 Defender Works V8 70th Anniversary Edition. In addition to these official models, coach-builders and resto-modders have developed a significant interest in restoring and giving new life to old Defender platforms. Cool N Vintage from Portugal is perhaps the finest example of such craftsmanship.

Ever since its inception in the mid-twentieth century, Land Rover has been making vehicles that are capable of taking on almost any kind of terrain. Sadly with the passing years, Land Rovers (especially the Range Rover line-up) have become more of a big and luxurious choice for the urban environment despite having the old ‘go-anywhere DNA’.

In that respect, the all-new Defender is meant to make a serious difference (obviously at a higher price point). However, we all know what is happening with the Mercedes-AMG G63 or the Jeep Wrangler.

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