The man responsible for designing the first all-new Land Rover Defender in more than six decades says his creation will be the "dog's bollocks".
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Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern told a small group of Australia's automotive media including CarAdvice that his team is currently working on a number of different derivatives that will make up an expanded Defender family when the new model launches from the middle of the decade.

“There might be a lifestyle version, there might be an uber one that is incredibly expensive,” McGovern mused at the New York auto show.

“There’s an opportunity to spin it in different ways, and different versions. Look at Defender when it first started – there was a lot of proliferation in terms of different types of Defenders, pick-ups and all types of things.”

“I don’t want to do a heavy-duty, dual-purpose, incredibly durable vehicle that looks like the dog’s dinner. Why can’t a car that’s incredibly durable and workable look good as well? A bit like Daniel Craig…”

He said that versatility was a reflection of the flexibility of its new modular architecture, which allowed his team to “fit different top hats on it”.

McGovern suggested the new Defender could use an aluminium platform similar to that of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport (above), denying that the lightweight and super-strong material would be too expensive for Land Rover’s workhorse.

“It’s all about how efficiently you design it,” he said.

“Aluminium is something that we’re good at and we’ve started to use a lot more of. It offers massive savings in terms of weight, which means our engines can get smaller, and also sustainability, so that will be very much on the cards as a material that is ideal for us.”

McGovern (below) hinted the brand would launch with “maybe one or two” Defender variants initially before expanding the range throughout the car’s lifecycle.

While declining to reveal specific details of the car’s design, he insisted the production model would look nothing like the Land Rover DC100 concepts (above) of 2011 and 2012.

“We’ve moved it on from [DC100], and I think we’ve got something now that is even more relevant and even more desirable, and even the traditionalists will love me for it.

“We did a survey of the response to [DC100]. We got 250,000 respondents on the internet: 90 per cent of them loved it – pretty good – eight per cent were indifferent and two per cent wanted to kill me, and I was worried about that two per cent,” McGovern joked.

“But seriously, we said at the time we did that that it was one of several directions that we were considering. I’m very pleased we did those concepts because it made clear to me that … we needed something that was maybe not more elemental, but something that was even more appropriate.

“I think what we’ve got as a consequence now is something that’s much more highly differentiated from [other Land Rover and Range Rover products].”

“This thing, I can assure you, will be incredibly distinctive. You’ll look at it and say, ‘That is a modern-day Defender’, and there will be nothing else like it.

“This car will be the bollocks, I assure you. The absolute dog’s bollocks.”

McGovern said it was also crucial for the new Defender to sell in significantly higher numbers than the current model (above), which averages just 15,000 units annually around the world.

“It’s an old vehicle, it’s an antique really. I mean I love it but it’s an antique.

“If we’re going to invest in a new one … then it has to wash its own face. It’s going to need to sell in bigger numbers.”

McGovern said part of the solution was making the Defender attractive as vehicle for both work and play, and potentially something that would appeal to buyers of vehicles like the Toyota HiLux.

“The guy who built my house, he would love a vehicle that he could go to the building site in the week but he’d want to take his wife out in it over the weekends as well. We want a Defender that can do that.

“It needs to be – in terms of its cost, if it’s going to work in that area – affordable. But it still needs to be premium because all of these [Land Rover] vehicles are premium.

“It’s what I call ‘premium durability’: the materials and material finishes aren’t just cheap and cheerful, they’re premium but they’re hardwearing and they’re very much in keeping with what this vehicle needs to be in terms of its longevity and the way you use it.”

McGovern said the new Land Rover Defender would be “perfect” for Australia.

“These things can do anything.”