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Ultimate adventurer: Land Rover reveals a Defender for the 21st century

By Paul Connolly

Land Rover has unveiled the revamped version of its iconic Defender model.

Out goes the uncomfortable but very capable vehicle of old, and in comes all mod cons and hi-tech connectivity.

But one area where Land Rover says the Defender’s legacy remains is its capability.

The manufacturer said it would remain the “ultimate 4x4 for overland adventures”, that will be able to go almost anywhere, including through water almost a metre deep.

The rugged SUV, which retains hints of the boxy shape and the rear-mounted spare wheel of its famous 71-year-old predecessor, has a towing capacity of 3,500kg and some models will seat seven people.

Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern said: “The new Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it. This is a new 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 – a visually compelling 4x4 that wears its design and engineering integrity with uncompromised commitment.”

The Land Rover Defender will be offered at launch with a range of petrol and diesel engines, including an entry-level 200HP diesel and a top-of-the-range 400HP petrol.

A plug-in hybrid electric model will arrive in 2020, and Land Rover has signalled that a full electric variant is very likely.

The vehicle rides atop a new aluminium platform with a stiffer chassis and long and short wheelbase models are planned.

The long wheelbase “110” model is released first, followed by shorter “90” variant by the end of this year, and two commercial models in 2020.

The 110 models currently on sale range from £45,240 for a 200HP diesel vehicle to £78,800 for a 400HP petrol version.

No short wheelbase prices have been confirmed, but Land Rover says when the vehicle arrives it will be “around” £40k.  There will also be a commercial version from around £35k + vat.

The model range comprises Defender, S, SE, HSE, First Edition and top of the range Defender X models plus four Accessory Packs: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban all with a “distinct character with a specially selected range of enhancements”.  An exclusive First Edition model will be available for the initial 12 months.

There is more homage to the original Defender inside including a dash-mounted gear shifter installed to accommodate an optional central front ‘jump’ seat, which provides three-abreast seating across the front like early Land Rovers (which will be adored by kids and others).

The Defender 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations, with a loadspace behind the second-row seats of up to 1,075 litres, and as much as 2,380-litres when the second row is folded.

Even the short wheelbase 90 variants will be able to accommodate six occupants in a vehicle the length of a compact family hatchback.

Given the Defender’s heritage, terrain abilities have been extended, says the manufacturer.

The new body architecture provides ground clearance of 291mm and a max wading depth of 900mm, supported by a new Wade programme in the Terrain Response 2 system for fording deep water.

Land Rover’s advanced ClearSight Ground View technology allows drivers to see the area usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen – a bonus for anyone doing serious off-roading.

There are some other nice touches across the range, including an optional Folding Fabric Roof to give open-top feel and allow passengers in the second-row seats of the 110 to stand up when parked to provide “the full safari experience”.

As you’d expect these days, the new Defender is packed with the latest Jaguar-Land Rover tech, including the new Pivi Pro infotainment system with a next-generation touchscreen.

In addition, the new Defender boasts of taking Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) technology to a new level, with 14 individual modules capable of receiving remote updates.

This means the car and its capabilities can be updated immediately, with no need to visit a Land Rover retailer.

The vehicle called the Land Rover Defender was introduced in 1983 as a direct successor to the original 1948 off-road vehicle known simply as the “Land Rover”, which was produced by the Rover Company in the aftermath of World War II.

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