This is the first-ever all-new version of the original Land Rover, first launched back in 1948. We have waited years for it, and the Frankfurt Motor Show marks its international debut. Land Rover describes it as an icon reinvented for the 21st century. Here are the crucial facts you need to know.
Launched as a 110
There will be an entire family of new Defenders, but it debuts in a five-door 110 guise. The short-wheelbase 90 will follow a little later, with two commercial Defender vans due in 2020.
It looks, well, like a Land Rover Defender. It has short overhangs, an upright stance, a side-hinged tailgate, an externally-mounted spare wheel and even Alpine light windows in the roof.
A key option from launch is Satin Protective Film. This is a ‘sustainable, solvent-free and completely recyclable wrap’ that guards against both off-road and on-road scrapes. It’s a factory-fit option for those choosing Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone and Panega Green paint colours.
Packed with accessories
No Land Rover has ever had such a wide range of accessories as the new Defender. These include a rooftop tent, inflatable waterproof awnings, a remote control electric winch – plus more commonplace add-ons such as tow bars and roof racks.
Diesel is still here
With two commercial versions set to come, the new Defender still has the potential to work for a living. Engine options reflect this, including two four-cylinder diesels, offered in 200hp and 240hp outputs. A four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 300hp, plus a range-topping 3.0-litre inline-six with an impressive 400hp complete the launch range.
The name might be old, but the drivetrain technology underneath the new Defender is totally modern. On the 3.0-litre petrol engine there is even a mild-hybrid system, which includes an electric eSupercharger. This uses power stored in a lithium-ion battery pack to reduce the level of turbo lag below 2,000 rpm. A full plug-in hybrid will join the range next year.
Defender for the world
Land Rover will sell the new Defender in 128 countries across the world, making it a truly global new car. It is to be built alongside the Discovery at the firm’s Slovakian factory in Nitra.
Defender for a New Age
Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern says the new Defender is respectful of its past, but not harnessed by it. “This is a Defender for a New Age. Its unique personality is accentuated by its distinctive silhouette and optimum proportions, which make it both highly desirable and seriously capable.”
Inside, the Defender intentionally has a stripped-back feel, with Land Rover exposing structural elements normally hidden behind trim. The emphasis, it says, is on simplicity and practicality.
Lots of seats
Mounting the gear lever on the dashboard has cleared space for an optional front-centre ‘jump seat’. With three-abreast seating, the Defender offers five, six or 5+2 seating. The 90 will have this jump seat option as well, to ‘accommodate six occupants in a vehicle the length of a compact family hatchback’.
Like the original Land Rover, you’ll theoretically be able to hose out your new Defender (if you’re brave), thanks to rubberised flooring. It’s just one of many practicality-focused details of the new Land Rover.
95 percent new
The Land Rover Defender is based on an aluminium monocoque architecture called D7x. The ‘x’ stands for extreme. It is 95 percent new compared with the Land Rover Discovery, and is the firm’s stiffest-ever body structure. Remarkably, it is three times stiffer than a traditional body-on-frame design.
Apparently, more than 62,000 individual tests have been conducted on the new Defender ahead of sign-off. Land Rover is particularly proud of its Extreme Event Test, which repeats immense, sustained impacts ‘above and beyond the normal standard for SUV and passenger cars’.
Land Rover has endless figures explaining how good the Defender is off-road. We particularly like the fact it can wade through 900mm of water (that’s over 35 inches). It can also tell you if it’s safe to drive into such daunting depths thanks to a new Wade setting in the Terrain Response 2 system.
The best 4x4xfar
The new Defender ‘redefines breadth of capability, raising the threshold for both off-road ruggedness and on-road comfort,’ says Land Rover. ‘It can negotiate crowded city streets as effortlessly as climbing mountains, crossing deserts and withstanding freezing temperatures.’
System updates from the cloud
With a vast array of electronic components controlling the new Defender, Land Rover has included the potential for over-the-air software updates. The 14 onboard control modules can be improved without the need to visit a dealership. Land Rover even suggests that a satellite phone connection could be used in remote areas to receive data for updates.
Keep everything charged up
Proving that the Defender has certainly evolved with the times, a total of five 12-volt charging sockets can be found throughout the interior. Potentially perfect for powering camping and lifestyle accessories. In addition, up to five USB charging ports are also included, dependent on seating capacity. It might make you think twice about hosing out that rubber floor, though,
Even the key is ready for activities
Land Rover will offer the second-generation of the Activity Key for the new Defender as an option. This allows the driver to lock and open the Defender using a device similar to a smart watch. Being shock-proof and water resistant lets owners engage in a range of lifestyle activities without the need to carry around a traditional key fob.
Ready to order right now
If you are excited by the new 2020 Defender, Land Rover is already accepting orders for the 110 version right now. There is also an online configurator ready to help you plan your dream 4×4. The short-wheelbase 90 will be available to order from the middle of 2020, whilst the release of the commercial variants will be detailed nearer the time.
Land Rover Defender UK prices
The Defender 110 costs from £45,240 for the D200 diesel, up to £78,800 for the range-topping P400 petrol. Defender 90 and Commercial prices will be announced nearer their respective launch dates, but expect to pay from £40,000 for the 90 and £35,000 (plus VAT) for the van.
2020 Land Rover Defender: in pictures