Land Rover Defender 2020: Images, specs, price and UK release
The new off-roader has finally arrived - here’s what you need to know
The three-year wait for the next-generation Defender is finally over, as an all-new version of the iconic off-road made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month.
The car combines the rugged off-road appeal of the original Land Rover from the late 1940s with the premium finish of the British marque’s more modern models.
A wealth of details about the new Defender were leaked in the run-up to its release, leading motoring YouTuber and Autotrader US editor Doug DeMuro to label the car as “the single most mismanaged launch in the entire history of the automobile.”
All the same, the official big reveal has been met with plenty of excitement from fans.
Here’s what we know about the eagerly anticipated newcomer:
Price and UK release
Autocar reports that the five-door Defender 110, currently the only model on sale in the UK, starts at £45,240 and is available in four different “packs”: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban.
A cheaper, three-door Defender 90 will join the range at later date and will cost around £40,000, while commercial models can be had for around £35,000 plus VAT, the magazine adds.
Customers who order a Defender 110 will get their hands on the off-roader in early 2020.
According to Land Rover’s design chief, Gerry McGovern, “the New Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it”.
As Auto Express notes, the off-roader “retains the iconic Defender side profile, as well as familiar cues like the ‘Alpine’ windows in the roof and a spare wheel mounted on the side-hinged tailgate”.
The car’s front end appears to be modern take on the original model’s design, carrying over the same boxy proportions and signature round headlamps. The new car’s flat bonnet is also reminiscent of the original model, as are the single-hinged tailgate and vertical tail-light cluster.
Land Rover has done away with the old Defender’s square grille, however, and replaced it with a pair of thin, vertically mounted vents. The car’s profile is more rounded than its predecessor, too.
On the inside, the new Defender’s cabin embraces its “utilitarian roots”, with rubber floor mats and exposed aluminium beams that run along the width of the dashboard, says Car magazine.
The cabin also features two digital screens - a 12.3in digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel and a 10in infotainment display in the centre of the dash. In additional, drivers are offered “over-the-air software updates” and a full suite of driver assistance systems.
The 110 model is available with either five, six or seven seats. And a long-wheelbase 130 model that should seat up to eight occupants will join the range in 2022, says Autocar.
Engines and performance
At launch, buyers can choose from 296bhp four-cylinder and 396bhp six-cylinder petrol engines, named P300 and P400 respectively, as well as 197bhp (D200) and 237bhp (D240) four-cylinder diesel motors, What Car? reports.
All models come with permanent four-wheel drive systems and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
A plug-in hybrid model is expected to join the range next year - and we wouldn’t put it past Land Rover to release a faster, SVR version later in the new Defender’s life cycle.
Earlier this year, critics were given a demonstration of the new Defender’s abilities on “rutted, ridge-strewn, pothole-ridden” lanes at the British marque’s “Developing World” test track in Gaydon, Warwickshire, says Autocar.
After a run along the rugged roads of the Developing World, Autocar says it becomes apparent that the new Defender is remarkably “comfy, modern and dynamically sophisticated”. That’s because it is based on a monocoque design, where the chassis and bodywork are integral to the car’s construction, as opposed to the twin-chassis configuration of the old version.
It’s an unconventional design for an off-roader that could lead to “much muttering among the green welly crowd”, the magazine says. However, it’s far lighter than a twin-chassis set-up and it has also allowed Land Rover to fit larger wheel arches for more suspension travel.
The result is a car that “sails” over rough surfaces with ease, says Car magazine. “The old car would rattle and shake, it’s slower steering would demand more work, but bar the odd thunk in the really gnarly stuff, the new Defender mostly glides over the surface.”
On the inside, Auto Express says the new Defender is clearly “a much more civilised environment” than the original, even though prototype versions sported “yards of fabric disguising the dashboard” and a few extra buttons.
Fans will have to wait a little longer until the final verdicts are in. Early impressions, however, suggest that the new Defender may be more urbane than its predecessors, yet manages to maintain the go-anywhere image that has made the car an off-road icon over its seven-decade history.
Lego Land Rover Defender
Leaks and rumours previewing the off-road ahead of its release often came from peculiar sources, but one report stands out among the rest.
In June, UK-based toy retailer Symths “prematurely” posted a 2,573-piece Lego Technic model the new Defender, which remarkably revealed a few design features that had not been spotted on earlier spy shots, reports Car and Driver.
The kit, which is now available for £159.99, boasts “authentic body panels, the car’s original rim design, a four-wheel drive system, independent suspension, and Lego’s most complex gearbox to date”, says T3.