Land Rover's modern take on the Defender has finally been unveiled in full, with an all-new architecture, high-tech terrain systems, and an upmarket interior.
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Land Rover has finally unveiled the 2020 Defender, designed to be a modern re-imagining of its off-road icon, ahead of its Australian arrival in June 2020.

Revealed at the Frankfurt motor show, the new Defender will initially be offered in the larger 110 body and a choice of a five-, six- or seven-seat interior layout. The smaller 90 will arrive in Australia late in 2020, with pricing to be announced in the second quarter. We'd bank on it sitting somewhere around the high-$50k or low-$60k mark.

Six models will be offered: Defender, S, SE, HSE, Defender X and First Edition. What's more, there's a choice of four accessory packages and four powertrains. We'll get there.

Externally, Land Rover says the new Defender is "respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it".

Translated from design speak, that means it's still upright and boxy, and it still has some classic design cues like a side-hinged tailgate and externally-mounted spare wheel – but there are more round edges, and a properly modern set of LED head- and tail-lights.

Regardless of model, you get 'alpine' windows in the roof, while those desperate for an even airier interior can option a full-length folding fabric roof.

What's happening under the surface?

Under the skin is a new D7x ("for extreme") architecture, which relies on an aluminium monocoque to create the stiffest body Land Rover has ever produced. The company claims it's three times stiffer than a conventional body-on-frame chassis, and says it's been through more than 62,000 tests before being signed off.

A permanent all-wheel drive system is standard, along with a two-speed transfer case and locking centre differential. There's also the option of a rear locking differential.

Land Rover will offer a variation of its 'Terrain Response' system in the new Defender, offering a choice of pre-programmed off-road modes or a more hands-on, personal experience.

In its most off-road oriented trim, with the Terrain Response system set to its most rugged mode, the Defender 110 offers the following capabilities:

  • 291mm of ground clearance
  • 38 degrees approach
  • 28 degrees breakover
  • 40 degrees departure
  • 900mm wading depth

Depending on model, the new Defender will get either independent air suspension or a coil-sprung setup. The air suspension can be raised by 145mm and lower it by 50mm from its default height, and peak suspension articulation is 500mm.

Along with its off-road prowess, the new platform and suspension setup allows a maximum braked-towing capacity of 3500kg, a payload of 900kg, and a 300kg static roof load.

On the road, Land Rover says the Defender's new suspension system offers "long-haul cruising comfort and rewarding handling characteristics with immediate responses".

Interestingly, the new off-roader has been fitted with an electrically-actuated brake setup. Land Rover claims the system can lock up a wheel within 150 milliseconds of the pedal being pressed, compared to 300ms for a hydraulic braking system.

It also says the "benefits include Hill Launch Assist... so the vehicle is prevented from rolling back on inclines – leaving the driver to focus solely on pulling away and negotiating objects ahead.

Land Rover will offer the 'ClearSight' ground view system, which allows drivers to see the area usually hidden by the car's bonnet.

New engines abound

We're going to start with the diesel engines; the D200 and the D240. The former makers 147kW, the latter 177kW. Both offer 430Nm of torque, and both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

On the petrol front there's the P400 MHEV, an inline-six boosted by a turbocharger and a 48V electrically-driven supercharger. It outputs 297kW and 550Nm, good for 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds.

As with the 48V systems becoming more common across the industry, the 48V electrical system allows for more advanced start/stop and works with a lithium-ion battery to harvest energy usually wasted under deceleration.

A P400e PHEV will join the range in 2020, but details haven't been revealed. For reference, the plug-in hybrid powertrain offered in the Range Rover makes 297kW and 640Nm, and offers a plug-in range of 49km.

Behind the wheel

Inside, the Defender blends classic Land Rover cues with the brand's latest infotainment technology. The 110 will be offered with a conventional five-seat layout, and six-seat setup with a three-seat front bench, and a seven-seat (dubbed 5+2) option.

The central touchscreen measures 10 inches and runs software called Pivi Pro, designed to reduce the number of presses/steps by 50 per cent compared with previous touchscreen systems. Wireless charging, smartphone mirroring, and Bluetooth capable of connecting to two devices are standard.

Drivers are faced with a 12.3-inch digital display, and there's a full-colour head-up display. By moving the transmission shifter to the dash, Land Rover has freed up space for a third, central 'jump seat' up front, while the climate control, off-road mode buttons, and volume knob are also housed below the touchscreen.

Because the rear-mounted spare wheel isn't see-through (nor are passenger heads), the Defender will be available with a camera-based rear-view mirror. All the technology can be updated over-the-air, meaning it should gain constant refinements and new features without being returned to the dealer.

Boot space is 646L in the 110 loaded to the rear-seat backrests height or 1075L loaded to the roof, with a maximum carrying capacity of 2380L with the 40/20/40 second row folded flat. The 5+2 model has slightly lower capacities, offering 464L, 916L, and 2233L respectively.

The base boot floor is rubberised and has flush-fitting sills, although carpets are available for buyers who don't want to hose their cars out regularly.

Accessories

Land Rover will offer the new Defender with four accessory packages, each designed to deliver a slightly different look and feel. Although they're factory options, dealers will also be able to fit the packages.

They're listed below:

  • The Explorer Pack brings a 26kg roof rack and side-mounted gear carrier, classic mud flaps, wheel arch protection, and a spare wheel cover. You also a matte black bonnet decal.
  • The Adventure Pack gets you a 6.5L pressurised water reservoir, a boot-mounted air compressor and side-mounted gear carrier, along with mud flaps, a spare wheel cover, a rear scuff plate, and a 20L backpack that matches the car's cabin design.
  • The Country Pack offers wheel arch protection, a bright rear scuff plate at the rear, and 'classic' mud flaps. It also brings a portable rinse system and full-height load partition.
  • Finally, the Urban Pack gets a bright rear scuff plate, spare wheel cover and front bash plate, along with a range of alloy wheels up to 22-inches in diameter.

All these options packs can be coupled with side steps or 'bars', and the side-mounted gear carrier is available as as standalone option. It's lockable, holds up to 24L/17kg of equipment, and has been shaped with aerodynamics in mind.

A quick quote

"We've embraced Defender's stunning capability and minimalistic, functional interior to reinvent the icon for the 21st century," said Nick Rogers, executive director of product engineering at Jaguar Land Rover.

"New Defender gives us the licence to do things differently, to push the boundaries and do the unthinkable, without ever losing the character and authenticity of the original."

"From the start we had an absolute obsession with functionality beneath the skin, from choosing the right materials through to state of the art connectivity. The result is not only the most capable Land Rover ever made, but also a truly comfortable, modern vehicle that people will love to drive."

Australia

The new Defender 110 will lob in June 2020 locally, priced from around $70,000 before on-road costs. The 90 will follow late in 2020, with pricing to be revealed in the second quarter of 2020.

The first year of production will also bring a 'First Edition' variant, and there will be a more permanent Defender X model serving as the halo product, with a sticker price that could stretch to $140,000.

Land Rover has gone all-out with the images, as you'd expect. Click one of the images to see the full 100+ image gallery, and then let us know what you think of the new Defender in the comments below.


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