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MOTORING: New Land Rover Defender to be unveiled this year

British manufacturer touts more visual details and on-sale dates for venerable SUV

Kampala, Uganda |  AGENCIES | Land Rover has confirmed a long-awaited Defender replacement will be unveiled in full this year before reaching global markets in 2020.

As the British manufacturer resumes testing of camouflaged prototypes this month, stakeholders say they have taken the new Defender to the ends of the earth to ensure it “is the most off-road capable Land Rover vehicle ever”.

“There are a handful of automobiles that are beloved around the world and stand for a brand, a country and a distinct way of life. The Land Rover Defender is such a singular vehicle,” said Kim McCullough, vice president of marketing for Jaguar Land Rover North America.

Having originally proposed a 2018 unveil date, Land Rover now says 2019 will be the year it shows the world its new creation.

As emerging camouflage pics show, the reinvented Defender — codenamed L663 — will be a radical departure from the model it replaces, and the original Series I Land Rover released in 1948.

Beneath its more rounded body, the 2020 Defender will ride on a tougher version of the D7u aluminium platform employed by the Discovery and Ranger Rover – not a steel ladder frame as before.

Also for the first time, it will be powered by 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHD), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and even pure-electric (EV) powertrains.

Boasting wholesale change to its almost 33-year-old exterior design, the new Defender will feature the latest driver assistance and connectivity features, Land Rover says.

And in a remark that could potentially spook brand purists, Land Rover says the next-gen model will be a “revolutionary product” with “even broader public appeal”.

“When it debuts in 2019, the new model will represent 70 years of innovation and improvement in just one model year; honouring the model’s history for rugged durability, while thoroughly remaining a Defender for the 21st century,” the company said in a release.

“All will be revealed in 2019.”

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