Land Rover stresses off-road credentials of all-new Defender

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent
Photograph: Land Rover/PA

Land Rover has unveiled its revamped Defender, an updated version of one of the most famous vehicles ever made.

The carmaker said the new Defender, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Wednesday, was “an icon reimagined for the 21st century”.

The new Land Rover Defender mixes it up among the dunes.
Photograph: Land Rover/PA

The new 4x4 will be built for Jaguar Land Rover in Slovakia and prices will start from about £45,000. Production of the last British-made Defenders ceased in 2016, almost 70 years after the first model came off the Solihull production line following the second world war.

The original version was a staple for the royal family, a favourite of the Queen, and a regular fixture in James Bond movies. Used by farmers and the British army, it was modelled on wartime jeeps.

The old and the new Land Rover Defender Photograph: Land Rover/PA

JLR said the shape of the new vehicle would make it “instantly recognisable”, but said it had been updated to “raise the threshold for both off-road ruggedness and on-road comfort”.

The manufacturer said it would remain the “ultimate 4x4 for overland adventures”, able to tow loads of 3,500kg and go through water up to 90cm deep. It will seat up to seven people.

Land Rover’s chief design officer, Gerry McGovern, said it was a “new Defender for a new age … respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it”.

The carmaker said the new Defender had been through more than 62,000 tests and subjected to repeated and sustained impacts beyond the normal standard for SUVs, including nearly1m miles of driving through deserts and the Arctic.

The new models will retail from £45,000 for a 200HP diesel vehicle to £78,000 for a 400HP petrol version. A plug-in hybrid electric version will follow next year.