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Revealed: final shape of the revived Land Rover Defender as it enters last field trials

By Paul Connolly

Land Rover has given semi-official glimpses of the revived Land Rover Defender as it enters its final test stage.

The 2020 model – brought back to life just a couple of years after the historic Defender was axed – will undergo its last field trials in Kenya.

The extensive testing will be in partnership with the UK conservation organisation, Tusk Trust.

Land Rover made the announcement this week on the 71st anniversary of the original Defender, which debuted at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor show.

Tusk Trust and Land Rover experts will put Defender prototypes – wearing unique camouflage to hide some of the car’s design – to work at the Borana Conservancy as part of Land Rover’s 15-year partnership with Tusk Trust.

The prototype will tow heavy loads, wade through rivers and carry supplies across unforgiving terrain in a series of real-world trials at the 14,000-hectare reserve.

Land Rover says by the time the new Defender makes its public debut later this year, it will have passed more than 45,000 individual tests in some of the most extreme environments on earth.

Company engineers have taken the test fleet to the 50-degree heat of the desert, the sub 40-degree cold of the Arctic, as well as up to 10,000ft altitude of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to ensure the new Defender can cope with the harshest of conditions.

Jaguar-Land Rover’s Nick Rodgers said: “In addition to the extensive simulation and rig testing, we’ve driven new Defender 1.2 million kilometres across all terrains and in extreme climates to ensure that it is the toughest and most capable Land Rover ever made.

“The incredible opportunity to put it to the test in the field, supporting operations at the Borana Conservancy in Kenya, with Tusk, will allow our engineers to verify that we are meeting this target as we enter the final phase of our development programme.”

Land Rover has been an official partner of the Tusk Trust wildlife conservation charity for 15 years, helping to reach some of the world’s most remote locations.

It’s a turn in fortune for the Defender; after a continuous production run of 67 years manufacturing finally ceased to great fanfare on 29 January 2016 when the last Land Rover Defender rolled off the production line in Solihull.

But the following year it became known that a new Defender will be produced for 2020, although it will look nothing like the doughty old model that toiled in fields and off-road for generations of farmers, builders, the military, police and other outdoor taskmasters.

The new vehicle will be produced in the company’s state-of-the-art new plant in Slovakia.

The latest images show a short-wheelbase Defender ‘90’ and a long-wheelbase Defender ‘110’ in testing at a site in North America.

The photos show it retains a boxy shape reminiscent of the old Defender, but also still in character with Land Rover’s current model line-up.

A large flat bonnet and Land Rover vents are clearly visible, despite the camouflage. Plus, round headlamps appear to differentiate the Defender from other models and hark back to its classic history.

It’s already known the new car will have an aluminium body and aluminium chassis and that Land Rover’s parts bin will be raided to kit out the car.

A leaked – and now reportedly deleted - Twitter image recently showed some interior detail, including the dashboard, complete with a large infotainment screen.

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