Land Rover Defender Blog

Land Rover Fan Designs the New Defender

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

January 18, 2018

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year


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This year, as part of the Land Rover 70th anniversary celebrations, the new Defender will be unveiled.

We already know, according to the modernist JLR design chief, Gerry McGovern that “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”.

So it won’t be a retro styled hat tip to the original Land Rover Defender, with modern underpinnings, similar to the approach Mercedes have taken with the Gelandewagen. And we have been told it will not be styled like the misaligned DC100, which 7 years later still pops up on Facebook every week as “the NEW DEFENDER”. The new Defender will sit on a beefed up D7U platform, and consequently, it will share a number of styling elements with the D7U based Range Rover and Discovery, keeping the brand consistent.

We took it upon ourselves to design a Defender replacement, that uses modern technology and construction methods, whilst retaining some of the original retro styling of the Defender - to make a suitable replacement model.

Here it is.  

My 2018 Defender Concept Images

When designing this model, I wanted it to retain the same overall look of the Defender. Alterations are subtle, generally, it has been squared off a little, the biggest change is perhaps the windscreen - which is now more sloping.

The overall profile is slightly softened, which makes it appear more modern and offers improved fuel economy. But overall, it remains unmistakably a Defender.

Subframe / Unibody / Monocoque Construction

Obviously, vehicles produced today have to meet stringent crash testing and pedestrian safety standards. For that reason, I suggest this model would have a monocoque body sub assembly, that sits on a seperate chassis - with key removable body panels. The front wings and rear quarter panels can be removed - perfect for farmers or off-roaders who often ding up the exposed bodywork.

This subframe would give our new model much improved roll-over safety and improved on-road handling thanks to the increased body stiffness. It would also allow us to seal the body more effectively for water and dust ingress, increase the wading depth and have a much higher build quality. There are 3 possible winch mounting locations, one hidden in the crossmember, one hidden in the front grille panel and a central winch mounting point.

This model would no longer be almost entirely handmade, but production could be scaled up, helping to reduce costs. JLR have stated they want the new Defender to be a mainstream vehicle that sells over 100,000 units per year.

I wanted to keep as much functionality of the original Defender, including a body that is offered in several styles, 3 wheelbases and plenty of flat sides for easy accessory mounting. The SVO would be able to make one-off and special vehicles for utility companies or the emergency services - like this 6 wheel drive airport fire tender.

I see no reason why modern vehicle design cannot be merged with the philosophy of the old Defender to create a 4x4 that is heavily customisable and highly capable off-road. My Defender features all round, independant suspension and for the first time from the factory, 3 diff lockers, a central diff and one at the front and rear.

The upgraded suspension would make for a more comfortable off-roading experience and give much improved on-road manners. The suspension would be electronically adjustable, allowing for ride height adjustments and suspension softening as needed. This could be done via air suspension or magnaride type dampers.

I envisage a lineup of models tailored for different uses. A base model type County pick-up, perfect for farmers and country living. The base models would come in classic colours like Coniston green and Portofino red, with an Alpine white roof. These models would come with steel wheels as standard.

It’s easy to imagine long time Land Rover owner, the Queen owning one of these new models, for use on her estates.

This new model could cater for the emergency services market too, with SVO offering ready made police vehicles, outfitted from the factory with lighting, sirens and high visibility liveries.

Finally, to cater for the recent trend of city based Defender drivers, from celebrities to footballers alike, there would be a G Wagen esque Sport model. This truck would feature a handling package, sports oriented suspension and tyres, performance engine plus a plush interior with leather seating and in car entertainment, as well as additional sound proofing to make this model a premium offering.

Electric Power

Powertrain wise, I think that electric vehicles really are the way forwards for off-road vehicles.Why? Electric vehicles have less moving parts to maintain, offer 100% torque all of the time and are far more efficient than internal combustion engines. Weight distribution is more flexible and combined with a low ratio gearbox and several speed transmission, an electric Defender would be unstoppable.

Factory Tool Kit

It would be awesome if Land Rover offered a factory tool kit, including all the specialised tools and diagnostic equipment required for the DIY Land Rover enthusiast, with a waiver on the warranty stating that if you mess with it, your warranty would be invalidated.


For traditionalists and those who must have a fossil fueled vehicle, I imagine a range of diesel and petrol 'Ingenium' engines would be offered, with 7 or 9 speed transmissions, terrain response control (that can be disabled) and for the sport model, some sort of turbocharged V8 would be lovely. Standard models would come with an EU6 twice turbo charged 4 pot 1.6 petrol that offers plenty of torque and power, maintaining the Defenders 3.5 tonne towing capacity but increasing fuel economy to 50+ mpg. Around town, the driver can select ECO mode with start stop technology and a cylinder stalling function that turns the engine into a frugal 3 cylinder.

Well, that’s enough of me rambling and dreaming. Let me know what you think in the comments and feel free to share the video. Also, if you are watching from Project Grenadier or Land Rover, I am available for freelance work 🙂 


  1. Mike Hallett says:

    Land Rover need to be a bit careful, because they may lose sight of the fact that a utility vehicle, which is the appeal of Defender, needs to still look the part. You have captured that element, but possibly too late. See what is now in the process of emerging from Bollinger in the USA.

    They have, among many admittedly desirable features, opted for inboard brakes, which I suspect may not go down well with the Construction and Use Regulators in some countries. If I recall correctly, brakes must act directly on the wheel without intervening mechanisms that could result in failure, i.e. splined couplings, shafts, U/Js etc.

    We will see, but it undoubtedly is an interesting vehicle.

    JLR need to pull their finger out. In my opinion, it is unforgivable for them to go so long without a Defender replacement and one wonders how serious they are – at a management level anyway – in that market sector, given the competition from numerous, perfectly adequate pick-up trucks and derivatives.

  2. Ben says:

    Mike, well said. I think Bollinger has a winner going….funny the similarity to the iconic Defender 90….coincidence? Maybe the electric braking that the motors can provide themselves covers them on the brake front?

    With the current camo mules running around looking like mini-vans with lift kits, I fear the Defender is now only firmly in the hands of restoration houses and the aftermarket. This new critter is not a Defender 90. I just hope it can at least claim legitimate offroad capability.

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