The Land Rover Defender is the epitome of rugged, back to basics off-roading. The car, that can trace its roots back nearly 100 years to the Second World War Willys Jeep, has always been built with one thing in mind, but the upcoming new version is set to offer a little more.
Instead of being a go-anywhere box on wheels, the hotly-anticipated new Defender will add a bit of luxury and technology to bring the iconic car well and truly into the 21st century.
Purists may cry at that notion, but at the end of the day Land Rover is a business and it has to shift units. The Range Rover, Range Rover Evoque, and Discovery may sell well, but the old Defender struggled to hit 20,000 sales a year, despite its cult classic status. By bringing it more in line with the rest of the Land Rover range, the marque is hoping that number will increase to around 100,000 a year with the new generation.
"Technology is going to be mandatory in the new Defender," Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralph Speth was quoted by CarAdvice. "You simply can’t build this kind of vehicle without it anymore. You can’t achieve the emissions levels and you cannot achieve the CO2 levels required of vehicles these days."
The aesthetics of the car are also likely to change, despite the poor reception of the DC100 concept (pictured above) at the 2011 Frankfurt Мotor Show – which was supposed to preview a future family of Defenders. Emissions regulations are set to impact the design, and not just under the hood, with aerodynamics at a premium to aid with fuel economy.
When asked by CarAdvice whether Land Rover would follow Mercedes' lead by modernizing a classic design like the German marque did with the new G-Class, Speth said that the new Defender would likely be a little different.
"I think it’s a very interesting approach to keep designing the same vehicle but move ahead with new technology inside, but at the end of the day it’s only a halfway approach," he said. "To be really relevant while using the latest technology, and to hit all our environmental targets, we can’t keep looking back. We have to move forward in this regard."