DEFENDER CONFIRMED FOR OZ

NEW LAND ROVER DEFENDER ON THE CARDS, BUT NOT BEFORE 2020.

WORDS FRASER STRONACH

LAND Rover Australiaís product and planning manager Brett Lewis- Driver confirmed a new Defender is in the pipeline when asked by 4X4 Australia at the recent launch of the new Discovery.

Hereís what you need to know. Yes, itís definitely coming, thereís a team working on it now and it will be the most off-road capable model in the Land Rover line-up. No, itís not a priority, it wonít happen before 2020 and it wonít be built off a new platform Ė instead it will use an existing platform. And finally, it wonít be designed for commercial, rural or military use, as it will be a recreational vehicle only.

Also at the launch, Jaguar- Land Rover Australia managing director Matthew Wiesner said: ďA pick-up would be the number-one desired product for us,Ē not surprising given the booming sales of dual-cab utes currently in Australia. Utes are also very much in Land Roverís core DNA, so itís an excellent product fit.

It seems the Defender will come in a few body variants, with priority given to a dual-cab ute with other variants to follow. But given everything also points to the new Defender being built off the Discoveryís aluminiummonocoque platform rather than a separate chassis, having a vast number of models will be expensive.

After a dual-cab ute, a fivedoor wagon is the most likely variant, perhaps followed by a short-wheelbase, three-door wagon or even an extendedcab ute. By using those four basic body styles, and with a choice of a few engines plus optional wheel and tyre spec, you could quickly flesh out a model range. Lewis-Driver also indicated smaller brakes are being developed to allow a more practical wheel and tyre spec south of 19s.

Perhaps the best news is the happy relationship Land Rover appears to be having with Indian owners, Tata. Tata is pouring money into Land Rover, but at the same time letting Land Rover get on with the job itself.