Last Land Rover Defender is built at famous Solihull plant in the United Kingdom - January 29, 2016Enlarge Photo
The beloved Land Rover Defender was sent to the automotive graveyard in early 2016 after decades of production. But, Land Rover will produce a follow-up act and it's coming very soon.
Land Rover design boss, Gerry McGovern, told Automotive News Europe the new Defender is "not far away" and it will appeal to faithful Defender enthusiasts. However, he said it will also court a new generation of buyers. "The anticipation is incredible," he said, but offered no further details into the vehicle's launch. The Defender has long been rumored to return in 2018.
The original Defender remained in production for more than 60 years and traced its roots to the original Land Rover from 1948. The most recent iteration of the SUV began production in 1983. Updating and launching the first new version in decades of an icon has been a difficult task, according to McGovern. He said it will not just be a "facsimile" updated to meet current regulations and will keep an emotional connection to the original.
"This was a vehicle that for a very long time was the emotional core of our brand. In order to move our brand forward we need to create desirable and relevant vehicles to appeal to a wider group of customers," he said.
Previous reports peg Land Rover to be working on five different variants of the new Defender: closed and open three-door versions; a five-door version with third-row seats; and two- and four-door pickup versions. The Defender's new platform will also reportedly be an aluminum-intensive unibody design. Still, it's expected to feature a live axle setup and a low-range transfer case with two differential locks.
In the case a new Defender just won't do, a British billionaire has already firmed up plans to produce a Defender-like SUV.
McGovern said the new Defender will be one tough cookie, just like the original and he offered a glimpse of insight into what fans can expect.
"You'll be able to kick the hell out of them and they'll get up for more."