More than 60 years after the Defender was first used to support Red Cross operations in the Middle East, the hard-working SUV will be pressed into humanitarian duty again.
Land Rover tweeted Thursday that Defenders intended for its worldwide press fleet are instead being lent to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Media friends. Apologies we couldn’t do the media drive as planned this week, but we’ve quickly redeployed the Defender press fleet to support our partners at the Red Cross to help communities across the UK. https://t.co/juonpv9mWg— Richard Agnew (@theragers) March 26, 2020
Land Rover's chief spokesman Richard Agnew also tweeted that the Defenders meant for the press drive in England are instead being used to fight the virus across U.K. communities.
The Defender is scheduled to be released in the U.S. in the first half of this year, and officials say the coronavirus hasn't impacted that timeline.
The 2020 Defender marks a return of the brand's most-capable off-roader. The go-anywhere SUV will be offered in two body styles, a short-wheelbase two-door Defender 90 and a long-wheelbase four-door Defender 110. Two engines will be available at launch, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque and a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 mild-hybrid with 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The base price will be $50,925.
The new Defender will also be chock full of off-road capability, with standard four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case, high ground clearance, and a standard Terrain Response system that can be set for the type of surface. It's likely that none of that will be needed for the fight against coronavirus, but it's good to know it's there if needed.
We can expect to see that off-road prowess in the next James Bond movie, "No Time To Die," which unfortunately has been moved from April until Nov. 25.
UPDATE: Officials from Land Rover say the Defender will arrive in spring 2020. That comment has been added to this story.