FRANKFURT — Land Rover has transformed the Defender off-roader into a more luxurious, roomier and high-tech vehicle but for a price substantially above the long-running model it replaces.
The second-generation Defender debuted Tuesday at the Frankfurt auto show ahead of a market launch next year. Sales will start with the 110 five-door model with five, six or seven seats at the beginning of next year and continuing in the second half of 2020 with the three-door, short-wheelbase version with five or six seats and badged 90. A van version of the 90 will also be launched next year.
The Defender lineup will be completed in 2021 by a longer 130 version of the 110 with a choice of seven or eight seats.
Final pricing has not been announced for all models. But Land Rover said Tuesday U.S. prices for the Defender 110 will start at $50,925 including shipping. Overall, prices will top out at around $80,000.
Land Rover has included plenty of design cues from the original Defender, which launched the brand and ran with minimal updates for 67 years, during which around 2 million were built.
Despite switching from a ladder-frame chassis to a unibody platform based on one used by the Discovery large SUV, the Defender retains the same boxy proportions.
Land Rover believes owners will use the re-engineered Defender for similar off-road adventures as the original utility vehicle, so it comes with a spare wheel mounted on the rear while inside the special rubberized flooring can be cleaned with a mop. Like the original, it comes with a side-hinged door to access the cargo area, and is available with a “jump seat” — a third seat between the driver and passenger seats that doubles up as storage.
A folding fabric roof will be available on the 110 to enable a “safari experience” while optional extras include an expedition roof-rack with access ladder, roof-tent and a waterproof storage box mounted on the side of the vehicle.
“We’ve embraced Defender’s stunning capability and minimalistic, functional interior to reinvent the icon for the 21st century,” Nick Rogers, head of engineering, said in a statement.
At launch in the U.S. next spring, the new Defender 90 First Edition will be powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder Ingenium engine, a powertrain that also includes a hybrid system. Total horsepower is 395. A 296-hp turbo four-cylinder engine will also be available. No diesel engine will be available at launch. A plug-in hybrid model will join the lineup after its launch, JLR said.
The new model will be built at Jaguar Land Rover’s new plant in Nitra, Slovakia, alongside the Discovery. It is underpinned by an adapted version of the Discovery’s aluminum D7u platform, called D7x. Land Rover said the changes to the platform are so great the body-in-white is built on a separate line from the Discovery.