Land Rover Defender Black Pack and Silver PackEnlarge Photo
Land Rover’s Defender is the stuff of legend. With a design that’s barely budged from the original boxy shape of the utilitarian-and-mechanically-bulletproof ‘Land Rover’ unveiled in 1948, the Defender, just like its Germanic rival, the G-Glass, has a reputation for being one of the most capable off-road vehicles in the world.
MUST WATCH: Here's A ‘Furious 7’ Extended Look Video
Unfortunately, the off-roading icon is being phased out this year due to safety and emissions regulations, and though a successor is planned there’s likely to be a gap between the end of production of the current Defender and the launch of a new one.
We previously heard that the new Defender, code-named “L663”, was coming in 2016, but a report from Automobile last week claims the vehicle won’t arrive until 2018, a date that coincides with the original Land Rover’s 70th anniversary.
ALSO SEE: Koenigsegg Boss Hints At Four-Door Model
Part of the reason for the delay is believed to be an overhaul of the design. The DC100 line of concept vehicles from 2011 was meant to hint at a new, inexpensive Defender designed to target Toyota’s Hilux workhorse. Those plans didn’t sit well with Defender devotees and so it was back to the drawing board for the design team.
According to Automobile’s report, the new Defender will ride on a new platform dubbed “D7u”. This platform is believed to be derived from Land Rover’s PLA unibody structure underpinning the larger Range Rover SUVs, and will still feature a live axle setup and low-range transfer case with two differential locks for superior performance when going off-road.
To suit a number of different buyer types, there will also be multiple body types (short-wheelbase, long-wheelbase, open-top, pickup) as well as various trim levels ranging from pure utility to cosseting luxury. Engines, meanwhile, will include Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium range of 2.0 four-cylinder gasoline and diesel mills as well as the automaker’s 3.0-liter V-6.
While it's sad we'll likely have to wait a few more years until the arrival of the new Defender, the good news is that the arrival will coincide with the nameplate's official return to the U.S. market. By 2018, we should also be seeing an all-new Jeep Wrangler and a revamped Mercedes-Benz G-Class, so the new Defender will be facing some tough competition from launch.