Such a car would be developed by Jaguar Land Rover’s newly formed Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division, and would allow the brand to tap into demand in Russia and China for powerful and luxurious rugged off-roaders, currently dominated by the Mercedes G 63 AMG.
It’s also likely that a hardcore off-road Defender SVX will join the range at some stage and we could even see a luxurious SVA version in line with the Range Rover SVAutobiography.
“The beauty of SVO is that it allows you to play. It lets you take vehicles and heighten their essence,” McGovern told Auto Express. “We can do that with all of them, whether it’s a Range Rover, Discovery or a Defender.”
The first new Defender isn’t expected to arrive until 2018, and it will spawn a family of at least three individual models. McGovern said: “The Defender is all about durability – that indestructible, durable vehicle which is what a family of Defenders would be.”
Our exclusive images show how a long-wheelbase five-door model and a sportier three-door could look. What engines the family would be offered with is unclear, although the standard Defender is expected to be offered with four-cylinder turbocharged diesel and petrol engines and possibly a more powerful V6.
Whatever happens, the new Defender will continue Land Rover’s recent move upmarket. “In its core form it can be something that can be quite elemental up to something incredibly luxurious,” said McGovern.
Yet the car will remain a true off-roader. While exact details are still secret, the new Defender is likely to have an aluminium body built on an aluminium chassis. This would give go-anywhere strength with less weight than from a traditional 4×4 steel chassis.
“When you see the new Defender, people will know it’s worthy of carrying the badge,” explained McGovern. “It will be able to do everything it says on the tin.”
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