There are few SUVs more famous than the Land Rover Defender, the classic off-roader. Now the British carmaker is hoping to extend the Defender’s illustrious 70-year run with an all-new version unveiled Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
It retains the Defender’s famous boxy shape but with more modern lines and new technology. Like a Jeep Wrangler, the Defender is built to withstand serious off-road use even though many buyers will rarely take it beyond the suburbs.
The vehicle incorporates all-new engineering that was subjected to “Extreme Event Test” procedures that went far beyond the sort of testing ordinarily used in the auto industry, according to Land Rover.
The new Defender rides 0.8 inches (2 cm) higher off the road than other Land Rover models and offers a camera system that allows drivers to see what’s passing underneath the front wheels
In addition to its rugged off-road credentials, it offers luxuries such as a 10-inch (25 cm) touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, systems that allow drivers to interact with their phones while driving.
It will initially be offered in the Land Rover 110 range with seating options for up to 7 people. A smaller Land Rover Defender 90 will be available later. Prices for the larger model will start at just under $50,000 when it goes on sale in the Spring.
The SUV’s sharply vertical front and rear along with short overhangs — the distance between the wheels and bumpers — provide it with the ability to drive on and off steep inclines. Its tailgate, hinged on the side rather than the top and complete with spare tire, mark it out as a Defender.
“This is our vision of a modern Defender,” Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s chief designer, said in a statement.
The Defender will be offered with a color palette unique to the model, Land Rover said. So as not to scratch that paint, it will also be offered with a removable protective plastic film. Other options include a full-length folding fabric sunroof.