Frankfurt Motor Show - Love it or loathe it Land Rover fans, this is the all-new Defender in its final production form, sporting a completely modern, if slightly futuristic design that still pays some homage to its ancestors.

The new design was “inspired by the past, not constrained by it”, says Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern. While the shapes and surfaces are all modern and flush, the new model retains some traditional elements such as the side-hinged rear tailgate and externally mounted spare wheel. 

It comes out the starting blocks in long-wheelbase ‘110’ form, but Land Rover has also revealed the short-wheelbase ‘90’ version that will be launched later in 2020.

The new Defender is built around a purpose-engineered (for toughness) version of Jaguar Land Rover’s aluminium monocoque architecture, which is said to be three times stiffer than a traditional body-on-frame design. While basic versions will ship with a conventional coil sprung suspension system, a fancier, fully-independent air suspension system will also be available. 

The new Defender is due to hit South African shores during the first half of 2020, offering two turbo engine options at launch: a 2-litre diesel with 177kW and 430Nm, and a 3-litre six-cylinder mild hybrid petrol unit that produces 294kW and 550Nm. Additional engine options will follow later in the year, Land Rover SA tells us.

Off-road ability is taken care of by modern technology rather than traditional 4x4 hardware, something that will upset a number of fans, but it seems the new model is aiming to attract new customers to the fold in a package that looks to the future rather than the past.

So instead of a traditional part-time four-wheel-drive system, the new Defender gets permanent all-wheel-drive with a central differential, although buyers can opt for an Active Locking Rear Differential. On the bundu-bashing upside, it also offers a ground clearance of up to 291mm, a wading depth of 900mm and respective approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees.

The new Defender also has a new, and highly configurable, Terrain Response system that aims to suit both experienced and inexperienced off-road drivers. Those who know the ropes will be able to fine-tune individual vehicle settings to perfectly suit the conditions, while newbies can sit back and let the vehicle work out the most appropriate settings for the terrain by using the ‘intelligent Auto’ function. Another snazzy piece of kit is the ClearSight Ground View technology that uses cameras and a screen to show drivers underneath the front of the vehicle.

The cabin salutes the “stripped back personality” of the original Defender with a minimalist design that exposes many of the structural elements and fixings that are usually hidden from view. In a very sensible move, the vehicle also has easy-to-clean rubberised flooring.

The new Defender can seat three people upfront thanks to the fitment of a central jump seat, made possible by positioning the gear selector on the dashboard. Customers will be able to choose between five, six and 5+2 seating configurations, with a loading capacity of up to 1075 litres behind the second row seats.

There’s no roughing it on the features front, the new Defender introducing JLR’s new-generation Pivi Pro infotainment system that’s said to be more responsive and intuitive than previous Land Rover systems, while also offering Software-Over-The-Air technology with 14 individual modules capable of receiving remote updates. 

Customers will be able to choose from numerous specification grades, including S, SE, HSE, First Edition and X variants. The vehicle can be further personalised through Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs. Another interesting option for those wanting to tame the wild in their Defender is a new Satin Protective Film, which is said to make the exterior paint more durable. 

Land Rover will also offer a wide range of individual accessories for adventure motoring, such as a Rooftop Tent, Inflatable Waterproof Awnings and a remote control electric winch.

“Our new 4x4 has been developed for adventurous hearts and curious minds,” says JLR chief commercial officer Felix Bräutigam.

“With four personalities to choose from, two body styles and a comprehensive range of options and accessories, customers will be able to personalise Defender to make their ultimate 4x4 companion – whatever their lifestyle.”

IOL Motoring