Rumors swirl about JLR’s toughest off-roader

It seems Jaguar Land Rover is already in the works preparing the next generation of Defender, the iconic British SUV that competed with the Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes G-Wagen. According to rumors, JLR is weighing both the design of the next Defender and its assembly location.

AutoCar is reporting the next Defender will spawn a “small family” of vehicles, according to a source within JLR. The rumors continue, saying the new Defender will undoubtedly ride on an existing JLR platform, likely the ladder frame under the Land Rover Discovery 4, or LR4 as its otherwise known. This will retain its hard-core off-road abilities furthered by four-wheel independent suspension, a traditional transfer case and longitudinally oriented drivetrain.

Powertrain choices are yet unknown, but most of the world will likely get a turbodiesel of some sort, whether it’s a new unit or one borrowed from the LR4. Land Rover will likely adopt an automatic transmission for the Defender, though it would be wise to offer an optional manual gearbox.

All of that depends on where Land Rover wants the new Defender to sit within its lineup. Should it be a rugged SUV with a reasonable asking price, or should it be a more trendy statement piece that offers more luxury? Those are the types of questions currently being reviewed by company executives. One thing is for sure: it won’t bare much resemblance to the questionable DC100 Concept from several years ago. That comes straight from Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern.

Regardless of what form it takes, the new Defender won’t be ready until at least 2019. Perhaps JLR will have a pre-production model ready for show by 2018 for at 2019 model year launch, or if delays continue, the Defender will wait to break cover till the decade’s end.

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Besides its looks and price point, JLR is sill debating where it will build the next-generation SUV. For the last 68 years, the Defender has rolled off the same assembly line in the U.K., though a proposed factory in Slovakia may get the nod. According to JLR CEO Ralf Speth, the automaker will only move production overseas “with the greatest reluctance.” Keeping the Defender nameplate at the Solihull assembly plant is a great concern for Land Rover enthusiasts and likely the British government. The vehicle represents modern automotive heritage that is hard to replicate. Moving production elsewhere would certainly be a business/profits-first move on JLR’s part.

Why It Matters

The Defender is a wildly successful product for Land Rover – not necessarily from sales for profit margins – but rather from a brand image standpoint. The Defender is known the world over as a Land Rover. Some would even say the Defender is the face of Land Rover vehicles. It’s because of this that JLR must strongly consider how it will proceed with replacing the Defender. Updating something that’s been an unchanged icon for three decades is no easy task.

Stay tuned for further updates on the next-generation Land Rover Defender as they become available.

Source: AutoCar

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