Land Rover has finally unveiled what the facelift Defender will look like, and it is dramatically different to the older model.
Land Rover currently manufacture around 20,000 Defenders a year. It is the 4×4 of choice for all-terrain driving and it has been since it was originally released way back in 1983. There have been over ten different variations of the Defender released, each of which has seen success and each of which has been driven on harsh terrain somewhere in the world. It is without any shadow of a doubt the most iconic 4×4 in history, and since it became the Defender in 1990 it has loyally served those who drive it.
With such history and a loyal customer base, replacing the Defender with an all-new version is a job that most would despair. Not Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern, though, who is confident that the Defender facelift will be well received “The current Defender has never sold on its design and has changed very little over the years. What we are working on is something that will be more desirable to look at.” said McGovern ” The traditionalists might not like it but they’ll have to live with it. It will still be as capable as before and there will be references to the old model – it might even have a spare wheel on the back.”
What this means is that the Defender is changing. It will now no longer be the super rugged and mechanically simple machine that drivers have come to love. From a business perspective, this sounds fine, however from a loyal customer perspective it sounds anything but.
Farnell Land Rover have been quick to quash any concerns made by current Defender drivers “The facelift Defender will be just as good if not better off-road than the older version. It is also being designed in a way that makes it easy to repair out on the field and it is being designed to be more fuel efficient than ever before. The new version might lack the retro charm of the older version, but the new Defender is a much more consumer viable car and will appeal to everybody, not just those living in rural areas.”
The Defender has not changed dramatically since it was released and it has never sold particularly well compared to the Freelander and Discovery. A fresher, more modern Defender will appeal to more people and it will sell better. This is what Land Rover wants – they want a product portfolio that makes money. The old Defender is now not modern or efficient enough to sit alongside the current range.
There will always be a market for the older Defender, though, and it is unlikely to see a less durable facelift version carving out the Sahara desert.
We will refrain from judging the car at this moment because we want to have a go first. A soon as we do, we’ll update this post.