Making a simple re-release – as many brands seem happy to do with some of their classic parts – is more difficult for a car manufacturer. Current legislation is much stricter in terms of road safety and air quality, as well as higher customer expectations in terms of comfort, quality and space. So the Defender 2019 had to be really different, while retaining the proportional fuel that makes it one of the most recognisable forms of car on the planet.
In other words, the brand’s design team led by Gerry McGovern did a remarkable job of redesigning the iconic 4×4 that launched the brand in 1948, and without resorting to pastiche.
Land Rover designers first showed their ideas to the public in 2011 with the DC100 concept, but reactions were mixed. Some felt it wasn’t serious enough, perhaps like Tonka Toy in its execution. The project was relaunched in 2013 and while the new version retains the characteristic silhouette of the original, with chamfered edges at the front of the roofline and bonnet horizontal, it also uses a much more vertical front end and a more indented rear end than the DC100, as well as squarer wheel arches and a more defined shoulder line. Finally, to stand out from the increasing proliferation of rival SUVs, the new Defender features a square C-pillar, floating above the body rather than being fixed to it, creating a unique graphic in side view.
The Defender is now made available in several (larger) sizes. The car’s naming system refers to the wheelbase of the previous model in inches, but the 90 with three doors and six seats is more than half a metre longer than the previous model at 4583 mm, while the 110 with five doors and five plus two seats is more than five metres long. A longer eight-seater 130 model will be added to the range later this year, as well as a plug-in hybrid option to complement the petrol and diesel versions of the launch models. See you soon for a test drive!
Defender, from £38,100