Land Rover let slip earlier this year that it would reveal the all-new Defender as the culmination of its 70 Years of Land Rover celebrations in 2018, ahead of its global release throughout 2019.
But when World Land Rover Day came and went on April 30 – exactly 70 years after the first Land Rover made its world premiere at the 1948 Amsterdam motor show – the new Defender was a no-show at a special function at the off-road brand’s Classic Works facility.
Since then Land Rover has continued to mark its 70th anniversary with a series of special events around the world, including in the US, France, Russia and Australia, and started the official teaser campaign for its new Defender by virtually presenting a camouflaged version to spy photographers in October.
However, Land Rover has always said its seventh-decade celebrations would continue until the end of 2018 and our sources say the best is indeed yet to come in the form of the 2020 Defender’s world debut in December.
That means the new Land Rover Defender will officially emerge within four weeks — and likely within 21 days if it arrives as a Christmas present, as we expect, for those who’ve waited to buy one since the old Defender was axed in 2016.
Beneath its more rounded body, the 2020 Defender will ride on a tougher version of the D7u aluminium platform employed by the Discovery and Ranger Rover – not a steel ladder frame as before.
Also for the first time, it will be powered by 48-volt mild-bybrid (MHD), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and even pure-electric (EV) powertrains.
Apart from the latter, at the heart will be JLR’s latest 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol and diesel Ingenium engines, and perhaps later 3.0-litre straight-six engines for premium, performance and off-road focussed versions including an SVX.
To help broaden its appeal as a global model and one of three Land Rover product ‘pillars’ (alongside Disco and Rangie), the 2020 Defender will form a whole family of models, including different body styles and three wheelbases including 90, 110 and 130-inch.
As is Defender tradition, these will underpin the short-wheelbase Defender 90 three-door wagon, the Defender 110 five-door (pictured) and the long-wheelbase Defender 130 respectively.
Both hard-top and soft-top options will be available, but it remains unclear whether a new-generation Defender utility will be offered, as it will with Jeep’s next Wrangler – but not the new Mercedes-Benz G-Class.
Land Rover says a number of pilot-build prototype Defenders are now testing on public roads outside its Gaydon facility in the UK, including cold-weather testing in Arjeplog, Sweden and hot-weather testing in Death Valley, USA.