Land Rover Defender Breaches 1.2 Million Kilometre Test Milestone

Land Rover Defender 2019

Land Rover Defender 2019

The last Defender came off the production line in Solihull in the West Midlands in 2016, after nearly 70 years continuous production of the 4X4 vehicle and its forebears.

Land Rover announced this week that its fleet of prototype Defenders has driven 1.2 million kilometers (about 745,000 miles) over the course of its development testing. "We have to create a new Defender for a new generation", he said.

The company also confirmed that while the new Defender (set to run on an all-aluminium platform, thus ditching the original's ladder-frame chassis) has been "designed and developed" in the United Kingdom, it will be built at a recently opened manufacturing facility in Nitra, Slovakia. Naturally the design is boxy, though there are smooth edges to soften the look and add a touch of modernity.

A camouflage-patterned prototype of the new model has been in testing.

When the new Defender makes its first debut later this year, prototypes would have passed more than 45,000 individual tests in extreme environments.

As Land Rover opened up registrations of interest in the new Defender that date can't be too far away; the vehicle maker simply says the official launch will be "later this year". The move will likely mean fully independent suspension front and rear, though a low-range transfer case and multiple differential locks should ensure strong off-road performance.

No details have been released on the powertrains that will underpin the new Defender, however it is expected the 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder engine will power cheaper versions, while a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder Ingenium donk will be employed on higher-end variants. It's all part of Land Rover's promise the new Defender will offer "unparalleled breadth of capability and new levels of comfort and drivability".

The company said the decision to move the Defender overseas came amid plans for "significant investment" at the Solihull plant, for the next generation of Range Rover and Land Rover models.

Although the move to Slovakia had been widely expected, it comes amid gloom over the prospects for British vehicle manufacturing and follows the decisions to relocate production of the Discovery model past year.

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