WHITLEY, ENGLAND – Given the widespread praise that’s been handed out since its unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, it would appear that Land Rover has successfully reincarnated the Defender.
Seeming to strike just the right balance between modern and rugged, the newcomer looks set for success, and Land Rover has every intention of capitalising on this by expanding the family, both downmarket and upmarket.
According to Autocar, Land Rover is working on a new Defender-inspired compact model that will become the brand’s entry-level model, while the range is also set to expand upwards with a more luxurious battery-powered model.
First out the starting blocks will be the ‘baby Defender’, which Autocar says is due in 2021, with a UK price tag of around £25 000 (R480 000), which undercuts the Discovery Sport by £6000.
In order to get the price to that point, the new compact SUV will have to forgo the expensive aluminium monocoque architecture that underpins the new Defender. Autocar believes that it will instead share a steel platform with the Tata Harrier, which is in fact a modernised but lower-cost version of the platform that underpinned the original Range Rover Evoque. Expect the Land Rover to have a more sophisticated suspension set-up than the Tata, however, as its rivals will include vehicles like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.
It remains to be seen what name will be given to the new compact SUV, but its design will certainly take inspiration from the new Defender.
The actual Defender, incidentally, is due to reach South African shores during the first half of 2020, with pricing for the initial 110 versions likely to start around the mid-900 000s, depending on the exchange rate.
Two engines will be available at launch in the form of a 2-litre turbodiesel that produces 177kW and 430Nm, and a 3-litre straight-six turbopetrol with outputs of 294kW and 430Nm. The range will be expanded at a later stage with a 147kW diesel and 221kW petrol option. All engines are mated to to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and permanent all-wheel-drive system.
This new version is instantly recognisable as a Defender thanks to its boxy silhouette. Its design takes on a modern look though with enclosed LED headlights, softer details and a distinctive rear light design.
Also fitted across the board is a twin-speed transfer box, off-road tyres, Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and electronic air suspension with Adaptive Dynamics.