The new Land Rover Defender was released at the beginning of Summer 2020, and had a hard act to follow: the original machine built between 1948 and 2016. Our Slider shows an early example, proudly displayed by the dealer outside its premises.
Autocar announced it as “The most capable off-roader Land Rover has ever built”, and backed up this assertion with some highly impressive figures: a wading depth of 900mm and a roof load limit of 300kg; full-time 4wd, low-ratio ’box and centre and rear diffs; 291mm of ground clearance, 38deg approach angle and 40deg departure angle; optional electronic winch; the most torsionally rigid that Land Rover has yet produced.
By the time the previous model ceased in 2016, it was selling fewer than 5,000 a year to retail buyers and 10,000 to bulk business purchasers. To be viable, the new version has to sell nearly five times these numbers, with production coming from a new plant in Nitra, Slovakia.
To emphasise the car’s off-road capabilities, chief designer Gerry McGovern and his team made many fixtures and fittings – from the door handles to door bolts on the interior – visible. They also continued features from the old model: an inset bonnet over a clamshell arrangement, a side-hinged boot and the option of a spare wheel on the back. Testing of the new Defender covered 1.2 million miles across deserts, at high altitude and in the Arctic.
So it looks as if Land Rover really mean business with the new machine. We wish it well.