2020 Land Rover Defender: Surprise! (Not Really)

2020 Land Rover Defender: Surprise! (Not Really)

One of the biggest, if not the biggest releases this year – or even this decade – is finally here, the 2020 Land Rover Defender.

It’s kind of hard to pick when the Defender became such a massive motoring icon. It had been around for so long. Its longevity was legendary as was its aura of unbreakable dependability and offroad prowess.

The Queen drove one in gumboots. Automotive icons don’t come with much more cred than that.

Land Rover first dropped hints about the new Defender (which only got its name when the Discovery launched) in 2011. It was the car that was never coming, a bit like the A90 Supra or any Alfa Romeo.

But it’s here and you can have a 110 in early 2020 (from a slightly cheeky $70,000) and a the shorter 90 later in the year (price TBA). With that price, it had better be good.

Look and Feel

I love it. No correspondence will be entered into. It looks great on steelies – this matt green machine with white steels is perfection – but also works with a big set of alloys. The lighting is wonderful, I adore the minimalism of the rear lights. The front lights were never going to be where everyone (else) wanted them, pushed to the edges where they belong on a modern car.

Gerry McGovern and his team avoided a self-conscious pastiche on the nose but it’s still instantly recognisable as a Land Rover. It will be well-known as a Defender in short order, with short overhangs and a go-anywhere stance. It’s got instant classic written all over it. No, really.

You can choose between four packages that add styling as well as mechanical changes. The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban each bring a distinct personality to the Defender on top of the standard, S, SE and HSE specifications now common across the Jaguar Land Rover stable.

While a good number of muddy-trousered shotgun-toting Labrador-owning will no doubt forget about Brexit for a minute and get really mad about the interior. The Defender was famous for its basic, no-nonsense interior. I don’t care what anyone says, you can’t get away with that nonsense any more. You have to have stuff.

The Defender features Land Rover’s new media system which labours under the name Pivi Pro. It looks pretty good and is hopefully a step forward from the improving but still a bit squiffy. Land Rover says not only is it new, but can get over-the-air updates to the 14 separate modules.

The 110 comes with a 5+2 seating option which gives you some idea of how big it is – over five metres with the spare on the back.


At launch the Defender will be available with three powertrains – two four-cylinder turbodiesels and the new in-line six turbo petrol with mild hybrid.

The two four cylinders come in D200 (147kW) and D240 (177kW) with identical 430Nm torque figures. Both are Ingenium diesels, the 240 packing two turbos. The in-line six is a proper monster, known as the P400 – 294kW and 550Nm. There’s plenty more to come from that engine and a V8 option is also on the way. Well, I say on the way – sources say it will fit but that engine – that glorious engine – is on borrowed time.

The P400 is the only mild hybrid in the line-up for the moment, but that will surely change. Next up is a plug-in hybrid, expected sometime in 2020.


The new 2020 Land Rover Defender is the stiffest car the company has ever made. The aluminium rich monocoque both reduces weight and adds strength.

Obvioiusly, it’s all-wheel drive. Power gets to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic with high and low range, centre diff and the option of a rear locking diff for full offroad nerdery. The Terrain Response system is configurable for those nerds or people like me can leave it in auto and let the car sort out what’s what.

Angles? Yeah, it’s got angles:

Approach – 38
Breakover – 28
Departure – 40

The 291mm ride height should keep you clear of most drama while the new Wade mode means you can take the Defender through 900mm of water. That’s…a lot of water and comparable to an air-suspended Range Rover.

You’ll also be able tow 3500kg with the Defender, putting it on a par with serious commercial utes.

How much and when?

The 1100 will be available from June 2020 with an “indicative” price of $70,000 plus on-roads. With all those packs, spec levels and 170 individual options, cracking six figures should be pretty straightforward. The 90 will come on stream in late 2020.

These are just the start, with petrol engines, commercial versions and all manner of cleverness on the way.