Land Rover Defender to spawn base, luxury versions; pure EV powertrain for range-topping variant – report


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Land Rover is planning to expand the new Defender range with additional versions at both ends of the spectrum, Autocar reports. The company aims for the entry-level five-door model to be priced around £25,000 (RM137,015) in the United Kingdom, which is considerably lower than the £45,240 (RM233,612) starting price for the Defender 110 when it was launched in September.

The forthcoming base Defender is believed to bear the model code L860, and is expected to make its debut in 2021. It will receive its own name, Autocar indicates, though it remains to be seen what the forthcoming model will be known as. A Defender badge is unlikely given that the model range is now pitched upmarket, and a Discovery badge could see the base model cannibalise sales from the Discovery Sport.

A distinct badge with something along the lines of ‘Land Rover 80’ could be used, referencing the wheelbase length of the original Series 1 models, the report said, also suggesting that the L860 is the third attempt by Land Rover in recent years to secure the business case for a model to compete against mainstream compact SUVs such as the MINI Countryman, Volkswagen Tiguan, BMW X1 and Volvo XC40.

This is bolstered by the fact that the mid-sized SUV market in Europe is growing, with an annual volume of over 500,000 units; Autocar however also notes that the L860 will also be sold outside Europe. Though parent company Jaguar Land Rover’s 2021 CO2 target that is higher than most others because it sells fewer than 300,000 units across the European Union, it is still a difficult target to achieve as its model line-up is mostly comprised of large, heavy vehicles.

The L860 is expected to use a platform which Land Rover calls the D10, and which parent firm Tata calls the Omega-Arc, or short for Optimal Modular Efficient Global Advanced Architecture. This is a cost-reduced, though modernised version of Land Rover’s D8 platform which underpinned the earlier Range Rover Evoque as well as the first Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The Indian-market Tata Harrier uses this platform, and the previous attempt in bringing the L860 to life was reportedly axed by Land Rover in January 2017 in the wake of the Brexit vote and fears of greater trade protectionism at the time. The L860 has been designed for both Tata and Land Rover applications, where the Harrier uses a a beam rear axle, and the forthcoming Land Rover will use a multi-link arrangement for both front- and all-wheel-drive versions, as well as gain an LR-specific front subframe and front suspension.

This means that the Land Rover L860 will be substantially new, accommodate PHEV technology and likely to be launched with the forthcoming 1.5 litre three-cylinder Ingenium petrol engines in both turbo and mild-hybrid forms. The PHEV three-pot option will be beneficial to Land Rover in helping attain the aforementioned group CO2 targets, by offsetting those of its larger siblings.

At the other end of the Defender scale, the more luxurious version is said to be in early stages of development, and could still be up to four years away from unveiling. This could debut as a pure EV, wear leaner styling and a much more luxurious interior as well as a price tag ‘well into six figures’ (upwards of RM548,137 in the UK), says Autocar.

To be based on the group’s MLA platform, the range-topper is expected to be the Defender line’s first pure EV spin-off, which will further boost the brand’s efforts in attaining its CO2 targets. The ‘Defender Sport’, as it is rumoured to be called, could further help its off-road abilities thanks to the finer control of output enabled by electric motors, though the upmarket Defender is likely to be more road-focused compared to the standard Defender line, the report noted.

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