What's the news?
Well, here's the new Land Rover Defender. It may still be covered in camouflage wrap, but as Land Rover slowly peels back the layers of disguise, we can now start to get a clearer look at how the new Defender will look. And the answer to that is a bit like a Discovery 3, only even more square and blocky.
Land Rover has released a series of images of disguised Defenders undertaking endurance testing in the wilds of Kenya, while also promoting the anti-poaching charity, the Tusk Trust, an organisation with which Land Rover has been working for more than 15 years. The photos have been released exactly 71 years to the day since the original Series 1 Land Rover was revealed at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948.
Nick Rogers, Executive Director Product Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "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 to ensure that it is the toughest and most capable Land Rover ever made. 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."
What we can see under the still-remaining thin layer of disguise is that the new Defender keeps the square-edged styling of its legendary predecessor. There's a massive clamshell bonnet and the spare wheel is mounted outside, on the rear door, as it has been since the 1970s. That said, there are still false panels under the disguise wrap (check out the fake window sills along the side) so there are details we're not yet seeing. This, of course, is the 110 model - the long-wheelbase, five-door version. A short '90' model, with three doors will follow, as will a pick-up variant, which may end up being the best-seller as it takes on rivals such as the Volkswagen Amarok and Toyota Hilux. Toyota's Land Cruiser will be another major rival for this new Defender, and Land Rover is apparently benchmarking the Defender against that car for solidity and reliability.
According to Land Rover: "By the time the new Defender makes its public debut later this year, it will have passed more than 45,000 individual tests in some of the most extreme environments on earth. Land Rover 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 to ensure the new Defender will take everyday life in its stride, for even its most adventurous customers."
The new Defender has even been tested on the Nürburgring, so it could be the first such-named model that will actually be rewarding to drive on-road, as well as up to its axles in mud. We'll find out early next year...