For years we’ve been eagerly waiting to see what the next Land Rover Defender will look like. The last “new Defender” concept came out in 2011, and since then, the only Defenders we’ve seen have been prototype mules running around with scrunched Range Rover bodies. Until, I think, today.
Early Tuesday, Land Rover posted this low-resolution photo to its Facebook page with the coy caption: “Do not unwrap until 2019.” We reached out to Land Rover’s PR people and only got one scrap: “more info to come on December 27.”
There don’t seem to be any details, hints, or confirmation of anything beyond what you see here.
But a body that boxy can only be the new Defender. And I do believe that this is the clearest official photo of its silhouette we’ve seen so far.
Earlier this month, Land Rover published a big “what we’re up to in 2019” press release which mentioned nothing about introducing a new Defender model. Though it did call out the “Defender” brand name as one of its three product “families,” implying that there were still plans to bring the model back eventually. (The other two “families” being “Range Rover” and “Discovery.”)
The design of the next Land Rover Defender has been heavily anticipated, and secretive, since the DC100 concept was panned, by me at least. The rumormill seemed to indicate, when we finally do meet the new Defender, that it will look nothing like the Hot Wheels caricature that was introduced seven years ago.
But those same rumors also said we would see the new design, [checks watch], three years ago now so I am skeptical of everything all over again. Especially since the profile of the camouflaged SUV coming out of the trailer in that picture sure does look pretty much exactly like the side of what was called the DC100 years ago. Albeit, as a four-door.
Of course the new Defender will be a four-door. Probably a hardtop as well, though I would guess Land Rover is working very hard on some kind of roof solution that at least has the novel functionality of the Jeep Wrangler’s power retractable top while retaining a fancypants upmarket ambience. Which will be a significant challenge.
When the camouflage finally does come off the new Defender, I would expect something aesthetically similar to the U.S. market Mercedes G-Class: sculpted like a wind-worn brick, with decorative LEDs up front and an extremely nice interior. The question remains whether the new Defender can actually hang with its predecessors off-road, or if it’s more of an “homage” to adventure. At least it looks like Land Rover is sticking with a rear tire carrier!