Details have been scarce, but a new Land Rover Defender is coming. What we know so far is that it will come to the US and will likely share some components with other Jaguar Land Rover products. Even though the company is not releasing any details, here's everything we've been able to glean.
Pictured above, the 2011 Land Rover DC100 Concept.
This story was originally published on 11/12/2018 and will be consistently updated with new info as it becomes available.
Will Debut in 2019, Will Be Sold in America
Land Rover has announced that the Defender will debut in 2019 and hit dealers in 2020. It'll be the first Defender sold in the US since 1997.
A new patent application from Jaguar Land Rover shows a central tire inflation system that could be destined for the new Defender. The patent application shows a very detailed system that interacts with various modules in the vehicle and adjusts tire pressures based on drive mode. The usual functions of a central tire inflation system are displayed, but JLR takes it a step further by integrating features such as a “Puncture Assist Mode.”
The features that are integrated into the drive modes appear to offer tire inflation for various environments and circumstances. The base or interim tire inflation pressure is set to 29 PSI and is adjusted based on the option selected. The example for the standard on road mode is set to 33 PSI in the front with 36 PSI in the rear. These pressures are very similar to what is listed on the placard for the current Land Rover Discovery, which is on the same platform that should underpin the Defender.
Going further into the various modes, we see that there is also a “High Load Mode” which pumps up the tires to over 40 PSI presumably to be able to take on extra weight. As expected, there are various examples of off-road modes which take the pressures down to a range between 20 and 26 PSI depending on the option that is selected. There is also a “Recovery Mode” which takes the pressures all the way down to 17 PSI which would likely be used to recover the vehicle out of sand or mud.
The integration of the system would allow it to work with the ABS and stability control modules so that the vehicle would be prevented from setting pressures out of range. In one example, the application states that the stability control module could communicate with the tire inflation module in order to prevent a situation where the vehicle would experience excessive oversteer or understeer.
The first bit of information that shows up on multiple profiles is that the vehicle has been assigned a project code of L663, a project name of “Darwin,” and it rides on the D7U platform. This platform is aluminum intensive and is currently used by vehicles such as the Range Rover Sport and Discovery, so the Defender will likely have some similarities in the chassis.
Multiple project descriptions show the L663 Defender listed alongside the L462 Discovery, so it is very likely that the Defender and Discovery will share some amount of components and technology. Since it will be so similar to the Discovery, it is not surprising to find out that the Defender is likely to be produced at the new Jaguar Land Rover factory in Nitra, Slovakia. The Land Rover Discovery started production there last month and profiles for project managers on site show that they are setting up tooling for the Defender in the same location. Other profiles show that training for project “Darwin” started in Nitra earlier this year.
Further research shows that the Defender will come in two wheelbases and will retain the 90 and 110 designations that it has used in the past. It is unknown whether these will be exact measurements for the wheelbase since it was rounded on past models; the old Land Rover 90 actually had a wheelbase of 93 inches.
As noted by Motor Authority last month, the Defender will also be getting a plug-in hybrid variant with technology developed by Tata Technologies. According to additional profiles, a Lear plant in Morocco is currently tooling up to build the high-voltage wiring for the Defender.
Perhaps the oddest description found for the upcoming Defender comes from a German roof supplier which lists the development of a panoramaaufstelldach for the vehicle. The direct translation of that word is camper roof. That means it is possible that the Defender will be available with a lift out roof similar to what is found on some European spec vans.
New Instruments and Tech
Inside, the Defender is slated to feature a brand new instrument panel, the first one built in-house by Jaguar Land Rover. This instrument panel is being co-developed with one for the next generation Jaguar XJ. Alongside this new panel, the Defender will employ a gesture recognition camera that is being developed by Aptiv and will likely offer similar features to the latest iDrive system in the BMW 7-Series.
The Defender gets more new cameras on the outside with the front of the car listed as getting the new Bosch Generation 3 front facing camera. That will interface with a next generation advanced driver assistance system that is listed as being the first “service based control system” from JLR.
When asked about these details, a representative from Land Rover provided the following statement:
Much as I'd love to unlock the keys to the kingdom, as you probably already assumed, we aren't able to comment on much of the specifics of the program for the next generation Defender.
I can confirm that the program is progressing well and, as you may have seen, has reached an exciting stage of its development with the first camouflaged prototypes hitting the streets recently. More news will be subject to a future announcement.
More details are likely to pop up as the vehicle gets closer to introduction but the currently available information shows it to be a very technologically advanced vehicle that will also offer some classic overlanding features. It should give the Mercedes G-Class a run for its money.
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