Any renderings of a retro-spirited reborn Land Rover Defender can be shelved, if the words of Land Rover's chief creative officer, Gerry McGovern, can be taken at face value. McGovern said the new Defender's design has been locked in place, and that it will not be a simple retro retread of the vaunted original. Not everyone will like it, according to McGovern. He called it "polarizing."
The upcoming new Defender is slated to be revealed in 2019, and it will have an important role in Jaguar Land Rover's SUV lineup. It is to be as off-road capable as the Defenders that have gone before, but the design will not be limited by its heritage, even though the valued bloodline will be respected.
"I do think it needs to acknowledge the great heritage of Defender in terms of its capabilities, durability and is robustness but not necessarily in terms of its visual quality," said McGovern at the Los Angeles Auto Show, as reported by Drive.com.au.
"I don't think we should be doing a pastiche of what we have been doing before," McGovern said. "If [the loyalists] are expecting a facsimile of the old one with all this new technology, then I don't think they'll be pleased." There is sound reasoning in his sentiments, especially considering the new vehicle should be a standalone product instead of merely doing fan service.
"The reality is the loyalists are loyalists and they love their Defenders, but they probably won't buy a new one because they love the old one. This vehicle will have to appeal to a new generation by virtue of its scale — it will need to sell in much bigger numbers than the original. And in order to get the investment back that's going into it, it will be a global vehicle and it will have to bring more people to the brand," said McGovern, with refreshing honesty.
So, think of it as a British prog rock band releasing new, fresh material instead of just playing a Best Of collection on their stadium tours. As Spinal Tap once put it, "Hope you like our new direction."