Preview: Land Rover Defender 2020

It’s finally here, the Land Rover Defender 2020 in all its glory! Since 1948, the Defender and its predecessors have been common sights on farms and worksites across the UK and the company has just showcased the all-new generation.

The Defender can trace its history all the way back to 1948, when the Rover Company launched a Jeep-inspired off-road vehicle – named the ‘Land Rover’ – aimed at the agricultural sector.

A second generation, the Series II, replaced the original in 1958 and the Series III in 1971. From 1978, Land Rover became a company within its own right.

Three wheelbases were offered from 1983 and new names were adopted to reflect this; the Land Rover 90, Land Rover 110 and Land Rover 127. The addition of the Discovery to the Land Rover fold in 1989 forced another, and this time final, name change to the Defender.

The old and the new Land Rover Defender

Old Defender: Why Did It Stop?

We could go on for hours about this. There was a multitude of reasons but we’ll sum it up as best as we can in one paragraph.

Because the Land Rover Defender was largely hand-built, it was incredibly expensive and therefore nowhere near as profitable as the other models. Production volumes were small as it didn’t really sell well outside of the UK (around 20,000 a year), and it was extremely hard to get around the Euro 6 emission standard as it was as aerodynamic as a parachute.

New Defender: Engine Options

All versions of the new Defender will be equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive. At launch, the engine range will be limited to variants of JLR Ingenium engine, starting with two 2.0-litre diesel options, a 2.0-litre petrol and a larger 3.0-litre petrol.

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Power outputs will start at 200hpf for the D200, rising to 400hp from the P400. Torque availability spans 400 to 550Nm, depending on the engine.

The P300 petrol engine will be a mild-hybrid, giving the mechanical motor a little extra push from a small electric motor mounted alongside. A full plug-in hybrid is expected to follow.

New Defender: Styling

It’s fair to say that the new Defender hasn’t received universal praise, especially with the think panel over the c-pillar.

Hwever, it mimics the old Defender with its raised, upright stance, generous ground clearance and short front and rear overhangs.

The rear hatch remains side-hinged, and includes a spare wheel mounted on the outside.

New Defender: Architecture and Abilities

Unlike the old version, the new Defender is a monocoque design using Land Rover’s new ‘D7X’ chassis, which is three times stiffer than any other chassis that Land Rover has ever produced.

The Defender is available as a 90 or 110, and there is a choice between rear coils or air suspension.

Those short overhangs afford great approach, breakover and departure angles – 38, 28 and 40 degrees on the 110. Ground clearance of 291mm helps towards a maximum wading depth of 900mm, aided by the Terrain Response 2 system; this monitors the surface beneath and adjusts drive accordingly. Ultrasonic sensors also measure the water’s depth, ensuring you don’t go too far into the deep.

ClearSight Ground View allows the driver to see what is directly in front of the bumper, to help avoid any nasty dents or scrapes.

The new Land Rover Defender has a 900mm wading depth

New Defender: Interior

For anyone taller than a hobbit, the Defender could be a rather claustrophobic place. Despite keeping the same wheelbases, the new chassis – along with things like mounting the gear lever on the dash – has freed up a lot more room and we’re pleased to report that it’s a lot more accommodating.

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There is a three-seater bench available for the front, with the Defender 90 being available as a 5- or 6-seater and the Defender 110 available as a 5, 6 or even 7-seater. For the mud lovers among us, the Defender comes with the option of rubber flooring.

The new Pivi Pro system comes with a 10-inch touchscreen display and is standard across the range. The software engineers have made it more intuitive and reduced the number of clicks required to perform certain tasks. Software updates can be undertaken on the road thanks to over-the-air technology.

New Defender: Weights and Dimensions

The good news for the agricultural industry is that the Defender inherits the 3.5t towing capacity, and includes a payload of up to 900kg. On the long wheelbase, it rivals small vans in terms of space with up to 2.4 cubic metres of load volume.

The new Land Rover Defender will tow 3.5 tonnes.

New Defender: Price and Availability

The new Land Rover Defender is priced from £45,240 to £78,800 for the passenger versions, although we’re expecting the Commercial to undercut them considerably, starting at around £35,000 plus VAT. All models will come with a respectable three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.