Though the previous generation car may be an icon of anachronistic symbolism, having survived almost 69 years with the same silhouette, the next Land Rover Defender is set to part ways with its past thanks to a new design direction.
Land Rover’s Chief Creative Officer, Gerry McGovern, suggested that the brand is prepared to disappoint its most ardent fans by creating a new image for the capable off-roader, by avoiding retro design themes from the old Defender.
Speaking to Australian media at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, McGovern defied his minders and proactively offered-up details of the all-new Defender for the first time, ahead of an official reveal set to take place in 2019.
McGovern wasn’t prepared to divulge finer details of the new vehicle, but did confirm that the exposed rivet assembly of the last car had been retired.
He also revealed that the Defender’s design “in its entirety is complete” with the new-generation car now in the hands of Jaguar Land Rover’s engineering division which has completed construction of the first series of prototype vehicles.
According to McGovern the next Defender will retain the original’s rugged off-road abilities, but styling won’t be held to the form of its predecessor, which can trace its roots back to the original Land Rover Series I of 1948 with only minor changes over the car’s 68-year lifespan.
“I do think it needs to acknowledge the great heritage of Defender in terms of its capabilities, durability and is robustness but not necessarily in terms of its visual quality,” he said.
“I think you have to be careful. I don’t think we should be doing a pastiche of what we have been doing before. What we have to do with the new Defender… it will be quite polarising to the Discovery and Range Rover.”
“If [the loyalists] are expecting a facsimile of the old one with all this new technology then I don’t think they’ll be pleased.”
McGovern said that while he “respected” the original vehicle’s fans he would not allow the new vehicle’s design to be dictated by them.
“I think if you get preoccupied with it, then you mess it up,” he said.
“I would love for the loyalists to harness the vehicle for what it is. The reality is the loyalists are loyalists and they love their Defenders, but they probably won’t buy a new one because they love the old one.”
“While we respect them, it would be wrong to be dictated and preoccupied by them. This vehicle will have to appeal to a new generation by virtue of its scale – it will need to sell in much bigger numbers than the original.”
“And in order to get the investment back that’s going into it, it will be a global vehicle and it will have to bring more people to the brand. There will be a lot of people coming to it that won’t have any preconceived ideas about it and will consider it on its merit.”
“The design language has to reflect the age we live in and the Defender is the one that can embrace a more industrial design approach.”
Land Rover gave its first look at a possible Defender successor when it revealed the DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts as part of the 2011 Frankfurt motor show, but apart from updating colour schemes and minor details no follow-up concept or production preview of the next defender has surfaced.