Land Rover brings the iconic Defender into the 21st century with all-new model
2020 Land Rover Defender
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Land Rover Defender, the daddy of SUV’s
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the Land Rover Defender is, and probably always will be, one of the most recognisable and iconic vehicles ever to hit our roads.
It can very clearly trace its roots all the way back to 1948, where the original Land Rover Series was unveiled to the public. As the decades went by with different styles and technologies coming in and going out of fashion, the Defender changed remarkably little right up until the end of its 67-year production run in 2016.
Originally adored by farmers and militaries, the Defender became something of a cult classic as the face of the last truly analogue car in a digital world. The Defender bowed out with much fanfare over the final limited editions (Land Rover Defender Works V8), and supposedly brought the model’s chapter to a neat close.
New Land Rover Defender SUV
However, Land Rover isn’t finished with the Defender just yet. An all-new model designed from the ground-up was revealed last year in what can only be described as a gutsy move from the Solihull brand, given how adored the classic model is by fans globally. So, what does the new model do to deserve the iconic name, and can it be competitive against its 4×4 rivals?
To no surprise, Land Rover has stayed faithful with the boxy and rugged design language in the new Defender. The exterior is as squared off as modern crash standards allow, and you can spec your new car to run on old-fashioned steel wheels – complete with the exposed screw heads in the interior. Brutal simplicity is part of what made the old Defender popular, and Land Rover are keen to emulate that. However, they’re not alone; both Suzuki and Jeep take deliberately retro approaches to the design of their Jimny and Wrangler models respectively, too.
2020 Land Rover Defender design and technology
Where the new Defender most certainly isn’t in the 20th century anymore is the technology that lies under the skin. Juxtaposing the exposed screwheads and jagged design lies a large touchscreen infotainment system with the latest Jaguar Land Rover software, and even a digital instrument cluster. You still get your all-important grab handles for the off roading and chunky pieces of trim with exposed body colour, but these now sit alongside some genuinely luxurious touches with the materials and overall quality.
The general theme of combining both cutting-edge technology and luxury against signature Defender brutalism is part of Land Rover’s ‘tough but approachable’ ethos for the new model. In other words, the new Defender must retain its famous ruggedness whilst attracting the next forward-looking generation of buyers.
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2020 Land Rover Defender performance and off-road capability
It’s similarly modernised in the engine department as well. Gone is the ancient 2.2l diesel van engine, and in comes Land Rover’s latest and most efficient range of blocks including the first ever Defender Plug-In Hybrid P400e. Power ranges from 200bhp from a 2.0l diesel, up to a meaty 395bhp from a 3.0l six-cylinder. A fire breathing V8 is on the way, too, which is set to humiliate the Jimny’s little 100bhp 1.5l engine and go head-to-head with the Wrangler’s rumoured upcoming V8. The diesels promise to deliver class-leading refinement and reasonable fuel economy (the base diesel will officially return 32MPG), whilst the petrol models gives the Defender serious pace, with the 398bhp P400e model completing the 0-60mph sprint in 5.4 seconds.
Most importantly, though, the Defender hasn’t lost any of the off-roading magic that made the original so loved. As standard, you get 291mm of ground clearance, 900mm of wading depth (the original Defender could only manage 500mm), and its 40-degree departure angle beats the Wrangler’s 37. You’ll also be able to climb a 45-degree angle in the new model, and descend a 47-degree one. This incredible ability is, of course, aided by Land Rover’s latest suite of technology that enables the new Defender to work out the best way to put traction down when the going gets tough at a blink of an eye. To top it all off, all the brains and electronics are rated for IP67 water and dust resistance, meaning they can be fully submerged in water for up to an hour with no ill effect.
New 2020 Land Rover Defender price
At a £40,330 minimum starting price, it isn’t cheap for an off-road toy. The cute Suzuki undercuts the Defender significantly, but the Wrangler is slightly pricier at £41,525. However, with the promise of all the ruggedness and ability of the last generation coupled with the modern creature comforts of today’s vehicles, the new Defender could be worth every penny to many buyers out there.