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RPM TV Website | November 22, 2017

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New Defender not akin to concept

Land Rover DC100 Defender Concept
Adam Schoeman

Few vehicles have survived the test of time — and extreme terrain — as well as the Land Rover Defender.

Released in 1940, Land Rover’s original go-anywhere, do-everything vehicle allowed its drivers to remain unperturbed at the prospect of challenging a raging river on their travels, but could commute its way through traffic to pick up milk from the supermarket with equal aplomb.

But the Defender is in the process of being updated and the direction that Land Rover had taken was looking very promising. The Defender concept was first shown in 2011 and merged the original’s universally recognisable square, angular features with a look that was modern.

But according to Land Rover designer Gerry McGovern, the Defender being worked on now holds very little resemblance to the 2011-era concept.

We struggle to see how this is going to play out, because the Defender concept is very much a middle point between the iconic Defender styling, and what we could refer to as the ‘modern’ Land Rover. A complete departure from that design path would seem almost unthinkable, so we’re guessing that these comments are more hyperbole than fact.

It could be that the Defender design team decided to trash those concept drawings and start afresh — but even then, the characteristics of the Defender will surely shine through.

Land Rover is trying to turn the adulation of the Defender into actual sales with this next generation, and it isn’t simply hoping for a 10-12 percent increase in demand. The brand is hoping to boost Defender sales ten-fold, meaning that it’s targeting a vehicle with a much broader appeal, rather than creating just another, highly focused off-road vehicle.

There is certainly still something cool about a Defender, and it is this coolness that Land Rover will try and sell back to its customers. While that shouldn’t be too difficult,  it will come down to creating a vehicle that lives up to the legend of the original, without forcing customers to forgo all forms of comfort and convenience.

The new Defender is only due out in 2018, so the designers still have plenty of time to surprise us.

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