Don’t expect the next Land Rover Defender to look like one of the off-road brand’s concept trucks. And don’t expect the same rough-and-tumble, dead-simple SUV that’s served on farms and game preserves for decades.That’s according to Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern, who spoke to Automotive News about the next-generation off-roader.
Easily the most interesting snippet of the conversation was McGovern’s comments about how the next Defender would look. “When this vehicle comes out, people will know it’s a Defender, it’s a modern Defender,” McGovern told AN. “But it will bear no resemblance to those Defender concepts.”
So where does that leave the Land Rover’s most capable vehicle? If the brand’s past several vehicles have been any indication, we’d expect a riff on the handsome sheetmetal of the Range Rover Evoque, although in this case, it’d probably be remarkably boxy and upright. Take a look at our spy photos of the LR4 replacement and imagine something even more utilitarian and squared off, and you’ll get what we’re talking about.
The Defender’s position in the brand’s hierarchy is also set for serious changes. While McGovern promised the same ultra-capable character, it’s likely the Defender will move upmarket in a bid to build more mass-market appeal – the next-gen off-roader needs to sell to 100,000 people rather than just 10,000, McGovern explained to AN.
“A lot of people love the idea of [the previous Defender], but they never buy one,” McGovern told AN. “While I’m a designer, and I love designing, I’m also a businessman. We need to build a critical mass in order to sustain ourselves in the long term and reinvest.”
Beyond its new positioning within the brand, AN reports that the Defender will continue to boast a wide array of body styles. There’ll be a pair of two-door models, a long-wheelbase four-door model, and even two- and four-door pickups, although we wouldn’t count on those last two here in America.
The next-generation Defender isn’t expected to debut until 2018, likely at a European auto show, as a 2019 model. As has so often been the case, though, that date is subject to change. Here’s hoping it comes sooner rather than later.