We can not imagine the stress that the Land Rover design team must have been under. To be tasked with reinventing an icon is no easy feat, especially one that carries decades of heritage on its back.
It was one of the most highly anticipated model launches in automotive history and that already sets the bar and expectations; sky high. The essence of the original Defender seems to be diluted in its modern styling and complex interior. One of the key points of the Defender was its ability to anywhere and be fairly easy to repair. If you knew what you were doing, it took nothing more than a wrench to fix a problem. No matter where you were, the Defender proved to be a reliable machine that was as simple and as easy as possible to run and maintain. This one? It is a high tech vehicle with enough ECUs to power a nuclear plant. It apparently has 85 ECUs that can process 21,000 network messages, whatever that means.
So where exactly is the problem with this ode to an icon? Well first of all, it's the whole styling. It doesn't happen often for a car to have a design like the Defender. The blocky shape of it was the holy grail of an off-roader and I see no reason why you should change such an iconic shape that to this day remains one of the most recognizable and respected vehicles on the streets. It is true that there is t he need for modern vehicles as times and competition progresses. That however, could have happened in a more select way. There are parts of the Defender that need no updating at all because they are the essence of this icon.
The redesign of the Defender was nothing like Mercedes' revival of the G Klass. They decided that they didn't want to keep a lot of its old details and that might have been their mistake. In terms of the engine, the options will be a couple of petrols and a couple of diesels. The petrol engines do sound more exciting as one of the options is a 395hp turbocharged straight-six engine paired to a starter motor and a 48-volt lithium-ion battery. The 110 will feature air suspension and the 90 will have a typical coil set-up, with air suspension as an option. Land Rover claims that this new Defender is more capable than its previous generations and we do take their word for it. The air suspension can lift it up for 145 mm which gives a lot of ground clearance. It uses their new Pivi Pro infotainment system which uses massive computing power to shut up when you're driving in familiar roads.
You can't really complain about new technology in a new car. Many people will love this and it's not difficult to understand why. It is a good car, it's just not a Defender. If Land Rover made it into another model which would be an inspiration of the Defender, it could be an amazing car. It has everything you would need in a modern SUV with excellent offroading capabilities and more. It can be the car you go on trails with and then you return to the city with. There are very few things that this car can't do. As an all-rounder, it's next to a perfect practical car. As a Defender though, it is pretty far from being the iconic vehicle that permanently shaped offroading culture. A Defender is one you can repair with a lipstick and drive through deserts with, not a Defender that has a system called Elegant Entrance to lower itself when you arrive at a halt. It's a vehicle where the A/C is a metal thingamajig that opens up air vents to blow unfiltered air full of glory in your lungs.
Land Rover certainly had good intentions but to live up to a name such as the Defender, you have to be very careful in your choices. It is a car that has garnered enthusiasts all over the world for its iconic shape, durability and grit. When you remove iconic elements such as the blocky exterior, simple analog operation and it's beating heart; you no longer have the iconic Defender. You have a Discovery, masked under a modern silhouette of the Defender. This might have been a great move for Land Rover as their sales are rising as we speak; it is an economically sound car that completely makes sense for the mass market but not the purists. I believe the car will perform quite well in the market but it is in no way, a Defender.