Defender hangs up its ladder?

Riley Riley

Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to drive a Land Rover Defender will know exactly what I’m talking about when I mention elbow room.

The cabin is so cramped that it’s almost impossible to drive the iconic 4×4 without winding down the driver’s window to hang out your right elbow.

I kid you not.

There was talk the current model which is no longer in production would be the last of the long 70-year line.

That’s because the dated design is unable to meet the expectations of the safety conscious world in which we now live.

But Land Rover confirmed this week that testing of an all-new model is underway around the world, with the first development mules touching down in North American shores earlier this month.

The new Defender, it says, will be unveiled in the next 12 months, with sales set to start in 2020.

Testing of the heavily disguised prototypes provides valuable data to engineers, given the wide variety of terrain and surfaces available in America.

In that case, you might also spy a few camouflaged cars running around the Australian Outback, as it offers some of the most challenging conditions in the world.

Been there and done that in a Defender.

Engineers will subject the vehicle to rigorous test extremes to make sure the new Defender is the most capable model ever; with temperature extremes of -40 to 50 degrees Celsius.

The test vehicles will be driven on- and off-road at altitudes of more than 4000 metres above sea level.

“There are a handful of automobiles that are beloved around the world and stand for a brand, a country and a distinct way of life. The Land Rover Defender is such a singular vehicle,” Land Rover North America’s Kim McCullough said.

“On behalf of Land Rover and our retailers, we are proud to announce the voices of American and Canadian customers has been heard: The all new Defender will be for sale here starting in 2020. This announcement is a holiday gift to our Defender fans in North America and a hint of what’s to come in the New Year.”

Word is the new Defender will not have a separate ladder chassis, as favoured by off road enthusiasts, but an all-in-one monocoque instead like many 4x4s these days.

Its direct competitor, the Jeep Wrangler, retains a ladder chassis, however.

With all-new exterior and interior design, as well as the latest driver assistance and connectivity features, the company says the next-generation Defender will be a revolutionary product for Land Rover with even broader public appeal.

Surely not? Does this mean we won’t have to wind down the window?

All will be revealed in 2019.

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