In Land Rover’s medium-term product plans, the lineup is broken apart into three main groups: Range Rovers, Discoveries and Defenders.
Each will bloom into a sub-brand into its own right, as we have seen with the Range Rover, RRS and RR Evoque so far, and the current Discovery Sport replacement for the LR2 in 2015.
This leaves the rough-and-tumble Defender family as the main unseen item in production form. The best idea of where Land Rover is heading is shown in the DC100 and DC100 Sport cabrio concepts from 2011.
As image-builders, the Defenders at present are terrific at bringing the company’s off-road credibility into 2015 and beyond in the UK and a few other markets. But the trucks have not been safe or efficient enough to be sold in the US or many other places for more than 15 years — making their contribution to sales numbers and brand credibility totally lost.
The new Defender will have to balance being cool and off-road capable with being affordable and sold globally. Nobody wants a “New Beetle” version of the Defender, but they also would like better refinement and hardy mechanicals. It is a tough balance, and one that Land Rover is still finessing.
The latest Discover Sport shows the platform this new Defender will use when it arrives as a 2017 model-year, slotted to arrive after the new Discovery proper in calendar 2015.