TIGHTENING EMISSIONS legislation is expected to sound the death knell for Land Rover's iconic Defender off-roader within the next couple of years, and the company is reportedly hard at work on its replacement.
Codenamed Project Icon, the next-generation Defender will ditch its traditional aluminium body and ladder-frame chassis in favour of the Discovery's steel T5 platform.
Independent suspension on all four wheels will also replace the Defender's live-axle setup, the first time in the model's 61-year history that such a suspension will be used.
The new Defender will continue to be offered in wagon, utility, crew-cab and cab-chassis variants, but there's no indication what effect the move to a more road-friendly suspension layout will have for the Defender's military applications.
Engine choices are not locked in at this stage, but current speculation says the Freelander's 2.2 litre turbodiesel four or the Discovery's 2.7 litre turbodiesel V6 may see service in the new Defender, which is expected to launch sometime in 2012.