• Can The 2020 Land Rover Defender Tackle The Harsh Desert in Dubai?

The company is very focused on making this the most capable Land Rover of all time, so our answer is a resounding yes

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Land Rover is finally bringing back the Defender as a 2020 model. The rugged SUV was in production from 1983 to 2016, after which it went on a short exile for a few years. The company has teased the new Defender a few times, and this time, it decided to put out a video that shows the SUV doing test runs in some extreme conditions. The new Defender prototype was taken to Sharjah and handed over to the Red Cross Experts to test on the mighty sand dunes in the desert. Is the 2020 Defender still as tough as its previous iterations?

What Better Way To Test It Than Giving It To The Red Cross Volunteers In Dubai’s Desert?

Can The 2020 Land Rover Defender Tackle The Harsh Desert in Dubai?
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The 2020 Land Rover Defender is being tested in different countries, but the company has still kept it under the wraps. To make sure the new Defender lives up to its name, the automaker took the SUV to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) global fleet base in Dubai and handed it over to the 4x4 experts there. This also happens to mark the renewal of a 65-year partnership between the two brands. The experts at the IFRC tested the new Defender on the region’s desert sand dunes and the twisty tarmac of Jebel Jais highway. The drivers made sure the Defender was put through all the conditions they generally drive, which included driving in sand dunes as well doing a marathon run on the winding roads of the famous Jebel Jais highway. Speaking of the Red Cross federation, this community is supporting millions of people all across the globe. They begin disaster preparedness and response initiatives in some of the most hard-to-reach places on Earth and help people in times of crisis.

A successful run in the desert is asserted when the vehicle is capable of climbing steep ascents with ease, running on the side slopes without losing grip, and conquering blind crests without encountering any incident. From the looks of it, the Defender felt at home and did seem to pass all the tests with ease. The automaker said that the engineers were obsessed to make the new Defender the most capable vehicle to roll out of Land Rover’s stable. The 2020 Defender rides on 815 mm diameter tires that result in a very large contact patch. This, paired with a traction control system, monitors and adjusts the new Defender to drive smoothly on the sand as well as tarmac.

The New Defender Will Be One Heck Of An Off-Road SUV

Can The 2020 Land Rover Defender Tackle The Harsh Desert in Dubai?
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The 2020 Defender is being put through a lot of testing all across the globe. To date, the prototypes have covered around 750,000 miles as part of the Defender’s development programs. In fact, it even made an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which happened to mark the global debut of this next-gen Defender. This was the shortest version of the Defender – the Defender 90 – and it was driven by the Duke of Richmond. Based on some internal documents that were leaked, the smallest Defender will measure 171 inches in length, 78.7 inches in width, and 75.8 inches in height. This SUV will offer a wheelbase of 101.8 inches.

2020 Defender Size

Length 171 inches
Width 78.7 inches
Height 75.8 inches
Wheelbase 101.8 inches

What Do We Know About The 2020 Land Rover Defender Till Now?

Can The 2020 Land Rover Defender Tackle The Harsh Desert in Dubai?
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There are a few details that have been uncovered by the Land Rover’s Product Engineering Team. For starters, the new Defender is built on Land Rover’s D7U aluminum monocoque architecture. According to Car magazine, this is the same platform that underpins the Range Rover Sport and Discovery as well. The automaker also mentioned that the platform can accommodate a combustion engine, a plug-in hybrid, as well as a fully-electric powertrain. The 2020 Defender will be available with an independent rear suspension. This is what makes the SUV a capable handler on tarmac as well. An air suspension system can be availed from the factory, and it will feature a temperature monitor in there to protect the SUV. However, the team leader told Top Gear that the former one will be the much more capable suspension of the two setups.

Seems To Be An All-Rounder In The Making

We deciphered the official photos and it looks like the 2020 Land Rover Defender will feature LED headlights as standard. An air snorkel could be available as part of the official accessories. As seen in the pictures as well as the latest video, this SUV has a stubby bumper, which means it will have an excellent approach angle. This is a must for any vehicle that deems itself as an off-roader. A spare tire is mounted on the tailgate, but the same was not seen on the prototype testing in Dubai. As for the drivetrain, the next-gen Defender could come with 2.0-liter engines under the hood, in both gasoline and diesel flavors. We are desperately hoping for a manual transmission to be packed along with the automatic gearbox. Land Rover also has a fantastic terrain response system in its arsenal, and we see no reason as to why it won’t feature in this SUV.

In A Way, The Next-gen Defender Has Already Made Its Debut At The 2019 Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Can The 2020 Land Rover Defender Tackle The Harsh Desert in Dubai?
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At the time of launch, Land Rover will bring in the Defender 90 and the Defender 110. The Defender 90 will be the two-door version, the one that Land Rover took to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, whereas the Defender 110 is the five-door version. As for the Defender 130, the automaker will launch it a little later. But, as you would’ve figured out from the specs mentioned earlier, the 90 and the 110 badges are no longer associated with the wheelbase length. The Defender will ride on 18-inch wheels as standard, and customers will be able to choose up to 22-inch inch wheels, wrapped in either all-terrain or mud-terrain tires.

All Hell Breaks Loose When You Pit Three Legendary Monikers Together

Can The 2020 Land Rover Defender Tackle The Harsh Desert in Dubai?
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Although it may seem like the poor man’s Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the 2020 Land Rover Defender’s primary rival is the Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler is a capable vehicle, but it hasn’t been able to assert the dominance that Jeep is known for. Blame it on the competition, but things are going to get all the tougher now for the Wrangler. Jeep even lost out on the one time where it showcases the Wrangler in different avatars to show us its capabilities. I’m talking about the Easter Jeep Safari. The 2019 edition was all about the Jeep Gladiator and we think it might have been a mistake on Jeep’s part. This was perhaps the first time in Safari’s history that a Wrangler did not feature. Moreover, Ford has made its intentions clear that it will pin down the Wrangler with the upcoming Bronco. Tough times ahead for Jeep, we guess.

Final Thoughts

Can The 2020 Land Rover Defender Tackle The Harsh Desert in Dubai?
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The next-gen Defender is expected to be launched later this year, and deliveries will begin around the second quarter of 2020. The production is reportedly happening at Land Rover’s plant in Nitra, Slovakia. With three legendary badges in the ring together, this is going to be one hell of a battle. Who do you think will emerge as the winner? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Senior Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a senior editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
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