Land Rover has confirmed that its new long-awaited next-generation Defender model will be fully revealed during 2019 with first customer deliveries from 2020.
As the rugged new 4X4 continues its testing phase – already seen on UK roads under camouflaged disguise – the British manufacturer said prototypes have arrived on US soil in the New Year as part of the off-roader’s world-wide extreme capability testing.
Available in short- and long-wheelbase versions, prices are expected to start from around £40,000 – but there’s a good chance it won’t be built in the UK.
Not built in Britain: Land Rover has yet to confirm it, but it’s widely believed that production of the new Defender will take place at the firm’s new state-of-the-art facility in Slovakia
Although Land Rover has yet to make an official announcement on production, it is widely believed that the new off-roader will be built abroad at the firm’s massive new state of the art factory in Nitra, Slovakia.
The new would be another blow to the firm’s UK workforce, following a series of job cuts – the latest coming just before Christmas – and voiced concerns about the impact of Brexit by Jaguar Land Rover.
The respected international journal Automotive News Europe reported earlier this month: ‘The Defender will be built in JLR’s 1.4-billion-euro plant in Nitra, Slovakia, which opened in October, IHS Markit has said.
‘The plant has a capacity of 150,000 vehicles with the possibility of doubling that with further modifications.’
The factory already builds the Land Rover Discovery large SUV, which moved from its former production site of Solihull in the Midlands.
Production of the iconic Defender ceased at the Solihull plant on Friday 29 January 2016
The Defender is legendary, and a firm favourite of Queen Elizabeth II, pictured here driving her Defender 110 to the stables in Sandringham
The next-generation Defender is expected to be priced from around £40,000
In a statement the firm said: ‘Land Rover UK today announces something to celebrate in the New Year; the new Defender will be revealed during 2019 and on sale in 2020.’
It noted: ‘Testing of the new vehicle is already underway around the world with the first development mules and prototypes reaching North American shores earlier this month.
‘Testing on the continent provides valuable data to engineers given the wide variety of terrain and surfaces available in America.‘
The car will be unveiled in its final production form towards the end of 2019. It’s likely to take place at a special Land Rover event filled with glitz and glamour
The utilitarian 4×4 will be on sale in 2020, Land Rover UK officials have confirmed
Prototypes, like the one seen here, are being extensively tested in North America ahead of its arrival to the US market
Land Rover said its engineers will subject the vehicle to rigorous test extremes ‘to make sure the new Defender is the most off-road capable Land Rover vehicle ever’.
Test vehicles will operate in temperatures as low as -40 Celsius and as high as 48 Celsius and at altitudes of 13,000 feet above sea level.
Jaguar Land Rover UK managing director Rawdon Glover said: ‘We are enormously excited to be revealing the first member of the Defender family during 2019 with UK customers taking delivery in 2020.
‘The Defender nameplate stands for durability and alongside Range Rover delivering ultimate luxury and Discovery offering the best versatility in the market, we will have an SUV for every customer requirement.’
Assessments are being carried out to ensure the Defender is ‘the most off-road capable Land Rover vehicle ever’, according to the manufacturer
Test vehicles will operate in temperatures as low as -40 Celsius and as high as 48 Celsius
The car will also be put through its paces at extreme heights, with prototypes taken 13,000 feet above sea level
With the judgment of faithful Defender purists in the balance, Land Rover says the next-generation Defender will be‘a revolutionary product with broad appeal, an all-new exterior and interior design, which nevertheless is ‘respecting Defender’s unmistakable shape’ – as you can see from the images.
Land Rover said: ‘When it debuts in 2019, the new model will represent 70 years of innovation and improvement; honouring the model’s heritage for rugged durability, while remaining a Defender for the 21st century.’
Prices are set to start from around £40,000, though Land Rover is expected to have a range of models under the famed moniker.
The next-generation Defender will be available in short- and long-wheelbase versions
A hotter SVR model could also appear, with Land Rover hoping to create a family of Defender models
It means prices for the robust offroader could scale as high as £70,000, according to reports
As well as short- and long-wheelbase versions, there could also be a high-performance SVR model and other more luxurious takes on the Defender, with prices estimated to rise as high as £70,000 for the offroader.
The previous Defender, launched originally in 1948 as a Land Rover Series 1, ceased production in January 2016.
Second hand values have since become collectors’ items and rocketed in value – forcing owners to safeguard their vehicles with car thieves targeting the in-demand classic.
Billionaire British tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also planning a ‘back to basics’ 4X4 to fill the gap left by the original Defender.
When the Defender does go on sale, it will be the first time it has been available as a new model for 4 years
These images show it is in-keeping with the design of the model it succeeds, with a very boxy silhouette
Land Rover said: ‘The Defender nameplate stands for durability and alongside Range Rover delivering ultimate luxury and Discovery offering the best versatility in the market, we will have an SUV for every customer requirement’
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