Let me say, just take a glance at the image above, you will realise that the long wait for Land Rover’s all-new Defender has been worth it. The 2020 Land Rover 90 on steel wheels, showing off some lovely axle flex.
From the outside, the Defender is a thoroughly modern take on its boxy predecessor. It’s a simple two-box shape, but every corner and edge has been given a soft and slightly chunky curvature. Tributes to the original are everywhere including the front headlights that have round elements inside a squared-off shape, the slightly sloping contrasting roof, the small skylights at the back, and the sheer vertical tail. The rear tailgate still swings open on a vertical hinge and you can still have a full-size spare mounted to it. The grille is a slim piece with a single bar across the middle like many modern Land Rovers. The thick C-pillar is an interesting design feature, though it probably results in a nasty blind spot.
A rear-door-mounted spare-wheel carrier is a traditional touch, as is the decision to continue to offer two wheelbases distinguished by “90” and “110” branding. In the old Land Rover those numbers corresponded to the two models’ wheelbases in inches, but the translation has been lost with this one: using Land Rover’s numbers, the 90’s wheelbase is now 101.9 inches, and the 110’s is 119.0 inches.
Engines are the best of JLR’s current stuff, including the brand-new mild-hybrid straight-six, not a V6. That’s got a turbo and an electric supercharger for 400bhp and 0–62mph in 6.4secs, which is properly recreational. And a notional 29.4mpg, which is slightly more economical than the 300bhp turbo four. Diesels are 200bhp and 240bhp at launch. All have an eight-speed auto and the mission-critical two-speed transfer box.
With 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, it has more than twice the output of any previous factory-fitted Defender engine. Land Rover claims it will be capable of dispatching the zero-to-60-mph benchmark in what we can only think of as a searing 5.8 seconds; when we said goodbye to the old Defender in 2015, the quickest model in the lineup posted a 12.7-second zero-to-62-mph time.
There’s also wireless charging for mobile devices and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A head-up display, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and multiple electronic driver assist features can also be found in the new Defender.
Customers will be able to personalize the new Defender more extensively than ever before with four Accessory Packs, The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban, that give the Defender a distinct character with specially selected enhancements. In addition, a wide range of accessories will be available including a Remote Control Electric Winch, Rooftop Tent and Inflatable Waterproof Awnings, as well as conventional tow bar systems and roof racks.
Pricing for the 2020 Land Rover Defender starts at $49,900, while the P400 starts at $62,250.