Testing time at an African wildlife conservation agency, and then a world premiere for JLR's new-generation 4x4 hero in a few months
- shares

Land Rover's brand new, premium and more comfortable Defender icon is only a few months away from its Frankfurt motor show debut, which means we find ourselves in the midst of an interminable teaser campaign.

Credit to JLR, though, for eking some good from a necessary evil. Today it announced plans for a clad prototype Defender to complete the final phase of field testing with wildlife conservation agency 'Tusk Trust'.

A Defender prototype wearing camo will experience life at Kenya's Borana Conservancy towing heavy loads, wading through rivers and carrying supplies across unforgiving terrain over the 14,000-hectare reserve.

By the time the new Defender makes its public debut later this year, JLR reckons it will have passed more than 45,000 individual tests "in some of the most extreme environments on earth".

Engineers have taken the test fleet to the 50-degree heat of the desert, the sub 40-degree cold of the Arctic, as well as up to 10,000ft altitude of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

"In addition to the extensive simulation and rig testing, we've driven new Defender 1.2 million kilometres across all terrains and in extreme climates," said JLR's engineering chief Nick Rogers.

"The incredible opportunity to put it to the test in the field, supporting operations at the Borana Conservancy in Kenya, with Tusk, will allow our engineers to verify that we are meeting this target as we enter the final phase of our development programme."

The new Defender has been designed and developed in the UK, at Gaydon, but production will be at Land Rover's recently opened factory in Nitra, Slovakia.

As we recently reported, we'll see the Defender in Australia from early 2020.

“Australia is one of the few markets that continued to sell the old Defender right up to the end. So in a sense, the brand name is probably stronger in Australia because we haven't had this hiatus like some of the other markets who haven't sold it in a number of years," said a JLR Australia spokesman.

Spy photos show a suspension setup very similar to the current generation Land Rover Discovery 5, with independent rear suspension, an anti-roll bar, and what appears to be air suspension.

The new Defender will be offered as both a short wheelbase three-door model, and a long wheelbase five-door wagon, and have a comparatively stripped-back cabin that's nevertheless light years ahead of the old agricultural model's.

With the company posting heavy financial losses and undergoing a painful round of restructuring in comparatively recent times, Jaguar Land Rover will be hoping its second-generation Defender will be a sales hit as well as an image-builder.