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The new Land Rover Defender debuted last year, and we’ve had plenty of time to acclimate ourselves to its rounded-off-yet-boxy design. It’s certainly characteristic to Defenders of old, albeit in a unibody platform which has some purists a bit upset. The off-road machine does have its detractors, and Land Rover’s design boss Gerry McGovern had much to say about that in a recent interview with Gear Patrol.

Is the new Defender too retro? Is it not retro enough? McGovern addresses various criticisms in this Q&A session, going in-depth on the design process to stand behind the final product you see here. It all started with the decision to actually build a new Defender, which McGovern says began after the LR1 Concept in 2016. As for the issue of retro, he offers a rather interesting take when it comes to following old designs too closely.

“I think retrospectivism is the kiss of death, quite frankly,” said McGovern, according to Gear Patrol. “It’s a slippery slope. It actually conveys that you haven’t got any new ideas of the future, because you’re looking back too much. Now, that’s not to say you don’t recognize your roots, because I think authenticity — particularly in a premium brand — is important. But you don’t let that manifest itself in the product to the point that the product looks like a facsimile of something that was created 60-odd years ago. For me, that’s not honest design.” 

Gallery: 2020 Land Rover Defender: Frankfurt 2019

That’s why the new Defender certainly has a familiar, boxy shape about it but also adds plenty of rounded edges in a modern design. In that sense, McGovern says the new Defender is not an evolution of the original model, but a new vehicle that borrows inspiration from the past while standing on its own today.

To that end, this Defender is certainly unlike any that have come before. Aside from its unibody design, the new Defender rides on independent suspension for the first time. Along with styling, these aspects have led some to criticize the ruggedness and capability of the Defender as compared to its predecessors. A video released by the Defender’s chief engineer back in December attempted to address those concerns by showing it tacking tough terrain and even catching some air, Raptor style.

Ultimately, it will be Defender owners who determine whether it lives up to the reputation established by previous incarnations. The new off-roader goes on sale later this year, but you can catch more of McGovern's thoughts at the source link below.

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