Tata Motors owned Land Rover, a British SUV marque, is developing the next-generation Defender for a launch sometime in 2016. The 2016 Defender could make an appearance in concept guise, at one of the many prominent motor shows next year. The next-generation Land Rover Defender will be significant departure from the outgoing model in terms of its architecture but is expected to retain the core ethos of ruggedness and go-anywhere ability of the version it seeks to replace.
Jaguar-Land Rover’s Group Marketing Director, Phil Popham, has gone to the extent of noting that the next-generation Defender will be the most capable Land Rover SUV ever, raising the bar quite significantly in terms of expectations that the new Defender will have to meet. Expect plenty of electronic aids on the new Defender that will increase the SUV’s capabilities both on and off the road. Another significant development regards the aluminium heavy construction that the 2016 Defender is said to use.
Even as rugged SUVs and pick up trucks such as the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux, known for their dependability and terrific performance off the beaten track, continue to use high strength steel and ladder frame construction, the 2016 Defender will move significantly away from steel. However, ladder frame construction could still be retained with aluminium forming the base of both the new frame and the monocoque passenger shell.
Jaguar-Land Rover are betting big on aluminium for their future vehicles. Usage of aluminium in car and SUV platforms allows for additional torsional rigidity, while lowering weight significantly. However, on an SUV such as the Defender, usage of aluminium is likely to make it more expensive to fix in case of body damages during off roading. So, Land Rover may be walking sticky ground here as it seeks to plot out an aluminium heavy future for the Defender.
In terms of engines and transmissions, the Ingenium range of aluminium based 4 cylinder turbo petrol and turbo diesel motors are likely to make the cut into the 2016 Defender. 8 speed or 9 speed automatic transmissions are likely to be used on the new Defender. Expect Land Rover’s latest terrain sensing four wheel drive system and other off roading aggregates to be used on the 2016 Defender, along with myriad safety aids that will work in tandem to boost the SUV’s safety and terrain holding ability.
A high quality cabin with an assortment of creature comforts are likely to make it to the 2016 Defender, which will be sold as a modern off roader that appeals to both urban customers seeking a lifestyle choice as well as dyed-in-the-wool off road enthusiasts. An interesting development around the 2016 Defender concerns the use of standard wheel and tyre sizes, which could be the same as those of the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux models. This similarity is intended to make the 2016 Defender more adaptable in third world conditions, where component supplies may be inconsistent.
From the information that is trickling in about the 2016 Defender, it is likely that Land Rover will sell the SUV in more than one trim. While the base trim is likely to be sold as a no-frills option, allowing for wide customization, a fully loaded top-end variant may be put together to attract well heeled buyers seeking a rugged yet luxurious SUV to complement their lifestyles. For our part, we just hope that the timeless lines of the current Defender isn’t diluted too much.