THE NEW Land Rover Defender 4×4 has been revealed in full. Here’s the lowdown on one of the most important makeovers in motoring.
What is the 2020 Land Rover Defender?
The Defender was the original Land Rover (originally known as the Series I) and immediately became world-reknowned for its go anywhere off-roading ability. It was so popular for traversing the globe that it’s thought the Land Rover was the first car seen by more than half the world’s population.
After a continuous production run of 67 years, the last of the old Defenders was built on 29 January 2016. But now it’s back as a much more comfortable, technologically-advanced machine than before, though Land Rover is promising the same ruggedness and capability as before.
The new Defender introduces plenty of firsts to the rugged model including air suspension, over-the-air software update capabilities and, from next year, a plug-in version.
What engines does the 2020 Land Rover Defender have?
From launch, the Land Rover Defender will be offered with four turbocharged engine options: a pair of 2-litre four-cylinder diesels, a 2-litre four-cylinder petrol and a 3-litre six-cylinder petrol.
Despite their different power outputs, the 197bhp and 237bhp diesels have the exact same torque output of 317 lb ft (available from just 1,400rpm). The pair of diesels are are said to be identical when it comes to fuel economy, too, with Land Rover claiming the two engines can (depending on the chosen Defender spec) both return up to 32.2mpg.
While not as torquey as the diesels, the 296bhp 2-litre petrol still has a good amount of pulling power; producing 295 lb ft of torque between 1,500rpm and 4,000rpm. Fuel economy isn’t too bad for a petrol engine in a car that weighs more than two tons, as Land Rover says the 2-litre can return up to 25.1mpg on the combined cycle.
Despite being the largest and most powerful engine available from launch, the 394bhp, 3-litre is on-paper the more efficient petrol engine; posting a marginally better 25.6mpg. This is because the six-cylinder is a mild hybrid model that uses a small electric motor to assist the engine under acceleration, and harvest a small amount of the energy lost when the brakes are being used to slow the car down.
While the 3-litre petrol has the most torque of any from-launch Land Rover Defender (a strong 406 lb ft between 2,000 and 5,000rpm), it shares the same towing capacities with every other variant. According to Land Rover, all Defender models can tow unbraked loads of up to 750kg, and braked loads of up to 3,500kg.
Regardless of the engine fitted, the Land Rover Defender will roll off the production line with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Is there be a plug-in Defender?
For the first time ever in a Land Rover Defender, a plug-in hybrid engine option will be available. Exact details haven’t been confirmed, though it will likely use the same three-cylinder petrol-engine based setup that will be offered on the new Range Rover Evoque, and Land Rover has confirmed the plug-in Defender will have the ability to drive on electric power alone.
Land Rover says this hybrid variant will join the range sometime in 2020.
How capable is 2020 Land Rover Defender off-road?
Despite being a far more modern vehicle than the one it replaces, the new Land Rover Defender is claimed to be just as brilliant a mud plugger as its back-to-basics predecessor. In true Defender fashion, the new model will also be a permanently all-wheel drive vehicle with Land Rover’s suite of Terrain Response technologies to help avoid loss of traction. Of course, there is the ability to lock the differentials.
The car maker says the Defender’s new “Wade” driving programme allows the car to drive through up to 900mm of water. It also claims steep inclines won’t be a problem for more adventurous Defender drivers, as both the three-door “Defender 90” and five-door “Defender 110” versions can drive up and down gradients of 45 degrees. Defender 90 models with the regular coil spring suspension have a ground clearance of 226mm, though with the air suspension fitted (optional on the 90; standard on the 110) this can be raised to up to 291mm.
Tradition has been observed by Land Rover in some places. While the high-end tech means you can’t casually hose down the interior anymore, the car maker says mud-clogged cabins will be easy to clean with a mop and brush thanks to a rubberised floor and flush door sills. The spare wheel on the tailgate has been retained for the new car, too.
What tech does the 2020 Land Rover Defender have?
The Defender’s spec sheet is perhaps the clearest indicator that this new version is a far different machine from the one it replaces. Safety gear in particular is a big leap forward for the car: Land Rover says all Defenders will come as standard with lane keep assist, emergency braking and a driver monitoring system that can detect if the driver is too drowsy to safely control the car, with blind spot assists and adaptive cruise control available as optional extras. These are all things that are pretty much required for modern production cars.
Other kit includes a 14-speaker Meridian stereo, a 360-degree parking camera system, a ClearSight Ground View assist that lets drivers “see through” the bonnet, and over-the-air software update functionality that, the car maker claims, “means new Defender will get better with age”.
Off-road-focused accessories for Defender drivers ranges from mudflaps, roof racks and raised engine air intakes to more hardcore gear such a front bumper-mounted winch, a “Portable Rinse System” complete with a 6.5-litre water reservoir, and even a roof tent.
How spacious is 2020 Land Rover Defender?
As standard, the Land Rover Defender will be able to seat five people, though this can be extended to six when the optional central ‘jump seat’ in the front row is fitted — not bad for a vehicle the length of a family hatchback (4,323mm, not including the spare wheel). The Defender 110 can also be specified as a “5+2 seater” with two front seats, three middle row seats and two small rear seats.
Boot space varies across the range. The Defender 90 can carry up to 397 litres with the rear seats up and 1,563 litres with them folded away, whereas the longer Defender 110 is rated at 1,075 litres with the seats up and 2,380-litres when the second row is folded.
When does the 2020 Land Rover Defender go on sale?
The five-door Defender 110 is available to order now, with Land Rover claiming the three-door Defender 90 will join the range very soon. Deliveries will begin in 2020. The plug-in hybrid version will go on sale in 2020, as will a Defender commercial van variant.
How much does the 2020 Land Rover Defender cost?
Prices for the Land Rover Defender 110 will begin at £45,240. Land Rover hasn’t revealed concrete figures for the other Defender models, though has confirmed the Defender 90 will start at around £40,000, and the Commercial van variants will cost from roughly £35,000.
What are the Land Rover Defender’s rivals?
While there are plenty of SUVs on the market right now, very few are claimed to be as capable off-road as the new Defender. The closest rough-and-ready competitors to the Land Rover right now is the similarly-priced Jeep Wrangler, and the marginally more affordable Toyota Land Cruiser. A much more affordable – but also much smaller – mud-plugger worth a look is the new Suzuki Jimny.