RAC Cars News


End Of The Road For The Defender

By raccars Published

It's been on the cards for some time, but Land Rover has now confirmed that production of the current Defender model will cease in December 2015. While the search for a replacement has hit a number of blind alleys, Land Rover now seems confident that it has a workable blueprint, which will bring added comfort and user friendliness to the previously very utilitarian off roader.

With the Range Rover sub-brand making up the luxury component of the business, Land Rover is now turning its attention to the leisure and utility sectors. While any replacement for the Defender will have to demonstrate peerless 4x4 capabilities, Land Rover is keen to broaden the vehicle's appeal and make it suitable for more civilised environments.

On sale since 1948, the Defender has become a victim of increasingly strict safety and efficiency legislation. It was post war Britain's answer to the Jeep and is beloved by rural farmers and royalty alike. Its list of illustrious fans is endless – apart from Queen Elizabeth II and the British emergency services and military forces, Winston Churchill was the owner of a specially modified Series 1 in the Fifties. While designed for rugged adventuring and agricultural work, the 4x4s became popular all rounders, on road as well as off. Land Rover was a single model brand for decades, but with the introduction of the slightly more civilised Discovery range, the standard workhorse received the designation Defender to distinguish it from its stablemate.

The new Defender is scheduled to arrive in 2016 and will be available in a variety of formats. It joins a restructuring of the Discovery and Freelander ranges to form a significant part of Land Rover's ambitious growth plan.

A new, junior Discovery will take the place of the Freelander in 2015. It's due to make a public debut at next year's Paris Motor Show in September, but information should be forthcoming by early 2014. Appropriately, next year marks the 25th anniversary of the Discovery.

While the new Discovery, currently codenamed the L550, will be of a similar size to the Range Rover Evoque, it will sit in a very different category from its more luxurious sibling. The Discovery will be Land Rover's 'leisure' sector offering and will feature rugged, modern styling and a super practical interior. The standard five seater will be accompanied by a longer 5+2 variant, a new departure for the Discovery range. Most of the L550 will be brand new, but it will be appropriating the Freelander's chassis.

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