Land Rover confirms smaller Defender, to join line-up by 2027

    The smaller Defender will sit on EMA architecture; will be positioned beside the next-gen Velar, Discovery Sport and Evoque.

    Published On Aug 09, 2023 07:00:00 AM

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    Land Rover will expand the Defender line-up, confirmed JLR CEO Adrian Mardell at a recent investor conference. The all-new “baby Defender” will be the brand’s fourth SUV in its line-up. The rugged, compact 4x4 is rumoured to have been on the cards for several years but has never officially appeared on the Tata Motors-owned JLR's product roadmap presentations. In March this year, Autocar India reported that Land Rover has been evaluating a smaller Defender

    1. Smaller Defender could be named Defender Sport
    2. Will be based on the EMA platform
    3. Regular Defender could get electric variant by 2026

    Defender Sport will be around 4.6 metres long

    The smaller Defender will be based on the new EMA platform and will sit beside the next-gen Range Rover Evoque, the Velar and the Discovery Sport SUVs. The announcement also shed further light on the mysterious fourth model line due to be built alongside the three electric SUVs, which are new-generation variants of current models, at the firm’s Halewood factory. 

    No further details were given, but the confirmation that the smaller Defender will use the electric-only EMA architecture reveals much about the new model. It could adopt the Defender Sport moniker, in keeping with the more road-focused versions of the Discovery and Range Rover, and arrive in dealerships as soon as 2027. Most importantly, it will be much more compact in all dimensions compared to its full-size namesake, today’s combustion engine-powered ‘L663’ Defender. 

    A promised electric variant of the current Defender, due in around 2026, will use the MLA structure from combustion-engined and future electric variants of the Range Rover. In comparison, the EMA-based smaller Defender will be a similar size to its platform-mates, and is likely to measure around 4.6m long and 2m wide and stand at less than 1.8m tall.

    Smaller Defender will be a rugged and purposeful SUV 

    The move to introduce new Defender models is reflective of JLR’s ambition to separate each of its core brands – Jaguar, Discovery, Range Rover and Defender – into four distinct product lines. As part of this separation, which comes under the brand’s so-called ‘House of Brands’ retail strategy, the Defender strapline will be ‘embrace the impossible’, in a nod to the original car’s storied off-road heritage. 

    Speaking to our sister publication Autocar UK recently, JLR’s marketing director, Anthony Bradbury, said: “It’s an explorer’s vehicle, it’s always pushed boundaries, it’s always physically allowed you to do things no other vehicle can.” Defender-badged cars, he said, must have “that feeling of activation, of doing”.

    Even the smallest entrant into the family will embody the rugged, go-anywhere ethos that made the Defender a household name. Squared-off lower quarters, purposeful body cladding and bluff, simple panels are likely to be employed both to draw a link with the full-size car and enhance the crossover’s off-roading credentials. 

    EMA-based cars to have batteries supplied by Tata

    EMA-based cars will be equipped with 800V charging architecture and capable of topping up as quickly as any EV currently on the market, most likely with a peak rate of 350kW. The batteries themselves – supplied by Tata’s new UK-based factory – will have a significantly higher energy density than those used by today’s Jaguar I-Pace

    That will allow them to be slimmer and, therefore, make a smaller incursion into the cabin, which will be a boon for any Defender model given the nameplate’s long-standing affinity with family buyers and commercial operators. 

    Today’s Defender accounts for a significant proportion of JLR’s global sales, and the model is listed as one of three high-margin cars (the others being the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport) that make up the bulk of the company’s 1,85,000-car order bank. 

    Also See:

    Toyota teases two more SUVs at Land Cruiser Prado event

    Copyright (c) Autocar UK. All rights reserved.

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