Drivers in the United States don't often get to see many Land Rover Defenders stuck in traffic around them. But across the pond in the UK, and indeed around the rest of the world, Defenders are the definition of everyday off-roaders. But even for the English countryside, spying a new generation Defender—albeit wrapped in extensive camouflage—is still a rare experience.
The Defender has long been the stolid workhorse of a British automotive industry that has always focused more on opulent luxury and sporty grand tourers more than on the off-road market share. Even Land Rover's fellow brand, Jaguar, churns out high-end SUVs that are clearly more tailored to the urban jungle than actual muddy paths.
But the eagle-eyed cameramen working for Top Gear didn't have to work too hard to catch this beast, however, as these spy shots were taken during a trial run just beside Land Rover's base of operations. Judging from the hilarious hashtag "#BEST4X4XFAR" the quick jaunt seems likely to have been coordinated entirely on purpose.
Even wrapped in purposefully obfuscated camo, the basic body style of the forthcoming Defender, due out in 2020, is readily visible. The changes look to be fairly significant, a massive update to the traditionally staid, utilitarian exterior that has helped to keep the Defender in the realm of mythical empire representatives as much as iconic vehicular form.
The current design ethos of Range Rover's latest products looks to carry over to the new Defender's profile, complete with more angular panels, fender flares, and integrated bumpers—all clearly designed with the help of computer graphics. But classic Defender details shine through, as well, including a swinging rear door, upright stance, and of course, the high roofline.
At the recent 2018 Paris Motor Show, chief marketing officer for Jaguar Land Rover, Felix Bräutigam explained, "It’s exciting to now start getting one step closer to officially announcing the rebirth of an icon." While test mules had previously been spied running potential Defender drivetrains underneath full Range Rover body shells, this is the first time the exterior of the new Defender has been spied in public.
However, Land Rover representatives have confirmed that the vehicle has been fully vetted prior to its recent semi-reveal, as Dr. Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover CEO, stated, "I have driven test mules already… and also tried the car against competitors, in on and off-road environments. It’s sensational." Defender fanatics will have to hold their breaths, however, as the first deliveries will not begin until at least 2020.