The legendary Land Rover Defender may be canceled for now, but even before Land Rover pulled the plug, it promised a new version would follow soon. Currently, the new Defender is expected to arrive next year, a date that conveniently coincides with the nameplate’s 70th anniversary. But when Land Rover finally reveals the redesigned off-roader, it probably won’t look much, if anything, like the original.
Speaking to Australia’s Motoring, Gerry McGovern, head of design at Land Rover, said the new Defender will be the “backbone of the Land Rover brand” but that it will incorporate new technology to stay “relevant.” He also confirmed that it won’t be as utilitarian as the original and called the new design “polarizing.”
“Let’s face it, the previous one, over a period of 68 years, sold just over two million vehicles. If you think of the Evoque, over five to six years, it’s sold over 700,000 in that period,” McGovern told Motoring. “In order to justify its investment, it’s going to have to be a global vehicle. Future customers will not have any preconceived ideas about it and in order to get people to come to the brand, customers will have to buy a Defender on its merit.”
Unfortunately for fans of the original Defender, that means making some pretty significant changes to the rugged off-roader.
“I love the fact all these people are enthusiastic about it. I appreciate they’re the ones driving the euphoria, but if they’re expecting to see a facsimile of the old one with all the latest tech, then I don’t think they’ll be satisfied,” said McGovern. “That said, I do think it needs to acknowledge the great heritage of Defender in terms of its capability, in terms of its robustness, its durability—but not necessarily its visual quality.”
Still, McGovern promised that the new Defender won’t be a shrunken version of Land Rover’s other offerings.
“Does that mean it will look like a new Discovery? Of course, it won’t. It has to go through the same rigor in design, and for me, it has to be honest and true for a vehicle we’re producing today and not preoccupied with what’s gone before,” he said. “To me, a retrospective approach proves a lack of creativity.”