RUMOUR HAS IT...
Developing the Defender
The new Defender could debut in 2018 and go on sale in 2019
The rumour mill continues to stir for the next Land Rover Defender, due to be revealed in 2018 and go on sale in SA in 2019, but this is the first time one of our spies has spotted a test mule related to it. This strange-looking shortened Range Rover appears to be a test bed for the three-door "90" Defender.
We’ve seen plenty of unusual test mules, but this looks to be one of the oddest. Viewed from the front and rear it looks entirely like a disguised Range Rover Sport, but side-on we can see that a huge chunk of the SUV’s wheelbase has been lopped out making it
look strangely like an SUV version of Mahindra’s G-Wiz electric vehicle.
Re-imagining a cult classic is not an easy task and in Land Rover’s case it has to build a brand new 4x4 that is incredibly competent off-road, while also meeting modern standards in terms of comfort and making money on a car likely to sell in small numbers.
It is expected that the Defender will use parts from other Land Rover vehicles and be built alongside other cars from the range.
Beyond the launch of the basic model, Land Rover is planning to introduce an entire new family of Defenders. Design boss Gerry McGovern has hinted that a performance SVR version of the forthcoming 4x4 could also be on the cards. Such a car would be developed by Jaguar Land Rover’s newly formed special vehicle operations 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 G63 AMG.
It’s also likely that a hardcore off-road Defender SVX will join the range at some stage following the reveal in 2017 of the Discovery SVX.
The new Defender will spawn a family of at least three individual models and whatever happens it will continue Land Rover’s move upmarket, 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 4x4 steel chassis.
Old Defender lives on
While the new Defender is under development, if you are still mourning the loss of the classic Defender and cannot wait for the new one to come along, then Land Rover surprised everyone by announcing that it will be making a limited number of V8-powered versions of the Defender that you thought had been killed off.
The Defender Works V8 will be available by special order only and will feature a 5.0l naturally-aspirated V8 developing a massive 298kW and 550Nm of torque that the company claims will ensure it will reach 100km/h in just 5.6 seconds. It will include an eight-speed automatic gearbox and not surprisingly plenty of items will be upgraded to cope with the extra power.
The price? A whopping £150,000 — or more than R2.5m before taxes and duties. We still want one, though.
Yet more Land Rover
At the risk of this week’s Rumours turning into a vision of Land Rover’s future, we’re not done with what the company has up its sleeve.
Development of the second generation Evoque is entering its final stages with the car expected to be revealed at the Paris Motor Show in September. Codenamed L551, the second generation will be an evolution in terms of design, with Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern stating that he does not want the Evoque to be reinvented but would rather make changes to keep it more relevant. The interior will get big changes, though, with tech from its big brother Range Rover models filtering through and it will also get the new Ingenium engines.
It will also be the first model to get a new 1.5l hybrid powertrain featuring a petrol motor, electric motor and 48V electrical architecture.
Toyota is busy developing the next generation of its Corolla. The current model has not been the success in SA it once was and the company will be hoping that the next generation will be able to regain some ground when it debuts in 2020.
Sources tell us the new Corolla will sit on the company’s TNGA platform we first experienced with the new Prius. There will be more tech, particularly inside, and a new CVT gearbox. No word yet on what the arrival of a new Corolla will mean for the existing Corolla Quest, but no doubt Uber drivers will be watching with interest.
Mercedes is sticking to its promise to launch an electric vehicle sub-brand under the EQ banner. The surprise is that its first model will not be a car to rival the BMW i3 or the upcoming i4, instead Merc has its sights set on Tesla’s Model X and is developing the EQ C, a crossover/SUV model to start its campaign.
Let battle commence.