2020 Land Rover Defender: What It’ll Look Like, Tech & Everything Else We Know

Redesigning an automotive icon like the Land Rover Defender is no easy feat. The original was characterized by its legendary rugged off-road abilities, simple construction, and tough appearance. For 2020 (codenamed L851), the changes are huge; forget what you know about its predecessor(s), as the all-new Defender now treads into premium territory.

So, let’s take an illustrative first look into what the short and long wheelbase versions will look like; and just how much it’ll change underneath the skin.

Re-imagining An Icon

Whilst retaining a boxy silhouette, the new look is a mix of Land Rover Discovery and the DC100 Concept from 2011. Frontal styling has an upright, blocky appearance with straight, horizontal grille openings and rectangular LED headlamps. The DLO (daylight opening area) features slim-framed windows with blacked-out pillars for a floating roof-effect.

The exposed door hinges on the original have been eschewed for more modern bodywork, which is simply contoured and devoid of excessive styling flourishes. Fender vents sit flush with the front doors, and the back features a side-hinged, tailgate-mounted spare wheel and led tail lamps.

Under The Rugged Skin

The Defender’s tough new underpinnings are a strengthened adaptation of the MLA platform that sits underneath the Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Discovery. Moving to this architecture means the new Defender is able to compete on a global stage, where safety standards ruled out previous iterations being sold in markets like USA and Canada.

This interior picture of an early 2020 Land Rover Defender prototype was shared by Twitter user ‘rcdesignsuk’. LR had said it was not indicative of the final product

As for the cabin, “premium durability” is the new catchphrase. It has chunky, horizontally-themed styling, melded together with quality materials and technical detailing. It also blasts into the 21st century with hoards of tech and driver assistance; expect goodies like heads-up display, wireless charging, dual-view SatNav with wifi, lane keeping aid, adaptive cruise and ClearSight ground View – which uses cameras to project a see-through hood onto the touchscreen to assist with parking and off-road wheel placement.

New Powertrains

Whilst yet to be confirmed, we anticipate 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel units from Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium powertrain family. A petrol-electric hybrid is also tipped to be in the works; this unit in the Ranger Rover Sport pumps out 398 combined hp and offers up to 31 miles of all-electric driving range. It’s unknown if this configuration will be plug-in or aided by regenerative braking.

Power will be fed to all four wheels via automatic and manual transmission options. Independent rear suspension will be standard, as will a terrain management system with selectable drive modes.

Tested To Defend

Some might perceive the new look as a softening of its capabilities, but don’t be fooled – Land Rover promises it will be the most capable and robust Land Rover ever developed.

2020 Land Rover Defender 90 & 110 prototypes

In developing the 2020 Defender, Land Rover has already completed 1.2 million kilometers of testing to date, with more still to be done. The development team has been to various corners of the globe to test the Defender, from the scorching heat of Death Valley USA, the freezing cold in Sweden, the hot sands of Dubai and even the Nürburgring – perhaps a hot SVR version is on its way?

Designed In Britain, Made In Slovakia

Another break in tradition with the all-new Defender is that it’ll be made at a new, state-of-the-art Nitra manufacturing facility in Slovakia. The new plant which was opened last year utilizes an advanced Kuka Pulse carrier system which is 30 percent faster than traditional conveyance setups.

Jaguar-Land Rover anticipates up to 100,000 vehicles will be built there, including some Land Rover Discovery models too.

Off-Road Rivals & Launch Timing

Since the 2020 Defender is going premium, it’ll have stronger credentials when compared against the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s iconic G-Wagen. Expect a range of different variants in 90 and 110 formats, plus a plethora of accessories.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Other potential rival could include Jeep’s Wrangler, the upcoming Ford Bronco, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Cruiser Prado.

While Land Rover has yet to give us a specific date, the all-new Defender will be officially revealed later this year (possibly in September), with sales starting early 2020.

What are your thoughts on the new Defender; should Land Drover have kept more faithful to the original, or do you like its modern take? Tell us in the comments below.

Photo Renderings Copyright Carscoops.com / Josh Byrnes

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  • Kaido Alex

    Nice old Discovery.

    • Jay

      That and for some reason I can’t unsee the Honda Element.

      • Six Thousand Times

        Not quite seeing that.

        • Jay

          Its in the shape.

    • ErnieB

      I saw it too..lol

    • Classic Bob

      My thoughts exactly.

      Kudos to Jeep and Mercedes for not straying so far from original design formulas.

  • Rocket

    A mixture of modern and classic elements seems an appropriate strategy. Sadly, I started losing interest in LR/RR when it became obvious that Tata had no interest in addressing their quality issues. Factor in the move toward touchscreen everything, and the brand is now completely off my radar.

    • ME

      I liked the more tradition look of the pre-Tata XJ. BMW also has touchscreens, no car is original these day except Morgan.

      • Rocket

        I don’t mind touchscreens for the infotainment interface … especially now that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have become prevalent. It is what they were designed for after all. But touchscreens for basic audio and HVAC controls is irresponsible. Land Rover, Audi, Tesla and Volvo are the brands that immediately come to mind. There will be customer satisfaction implications as such multi-screen and large single-screen systems become more commonplace. Those icons that are so easy to stab in the showroom will prove to be far more difficult to find when cruising at 80 mph on our less-than-ideal American roads.

  • charlotteharry57

    That’s pretty dreadful. I lost interest in this thing as soon as I read in a car mag that it’s a super-fluffed-up version of the original and that a true Defender reincarnation will be coming…later (with a different name, of course). Profits first, ya know.


    people forgot that jeep wrangler exists in europe

  • Leconte Dave


  • Smith

    This is just another everyday Land Rover, not like the original Defender that was a Land Rover with a difference. This new one says nothing about the Defender DNA, it is just a boxy Land Rover. Such a shame they wasted such a great opportunity.

  • Alduin

    Oh great..another overpriced and unreliable Land Rover.

  • antman70

    I think the render is quite wrong on the details as well. Going by the camo the DLO will be much larger, and I’m betting it is also hiding a bonnet/hood like the traditional Defender had.

  • SteersUright

    Thats not a Defender. A Defender was much like a Wrangler or G-wagon, a body-on-frame with unmatched offroad capability. This is a cute mall-wagon that has a tiny bit of ground clearance and I suppose is boxy, like the Defender, only with absolutely no character to its design. Jaguar/Land-Rover are beyond lost, they don’t make a single winning vehicle today and looking at news like this, doesnt seem like they will any time soon.

    • SakurashinmachiX

      “Tiny bit of ground clearance” …. it has air suspension, so if it’s like the Discovery at full offroad setting it has about 300mm of ground clearance.

  • Astonman

    I like it. I’m sure they have models that will make it more rugged looking for the off road connoisseurs

  • Harry_Wild

    If the sketch is accurate; the new Defender looks terrible. It would not sell well! Ugh!

    • Andrewthecarguy

      The Honda Element sold well 🙂

  • Fred

    One can see the resemblance between old and new, except for the interior. Only problem is the premuim part. Reliability of LR electronics (and failure to solve it for good).The more fancy equipent, the more things to go wrong.And then probably the biggest of them all, is this fancy word called premuim, used to make as much profit as possible.Well forget about the armies, the mining and real offroad community’s wont be interested, unless there is afordeble down to earth versions.Land Rover once the defult, simple, reliable, eazy fixable go anywhere vehicle,is dead.

  • Andrewthecarguy
  • Mustang.

    So it’s been tested everywhere huh? How did it measure up in the corrugations and bull dust in Oz?

  • Mustang.

    If the Army’s experience with the G’s is anything to go by so far it’s one veh not worth looking at. Makes the excessive price just so much more obscene.

  • TrevP

    Seems soft.

  • Tumbi Mtika

    Seems like a boxier Range Rover. Basically, a redux of the Discovery disappointment…

  • Francis

    I like it. Living in mountains in France this would be an ideal car for off-road and on-road usage. As I anticipate tougher and tougher regulation, I would go for an hybrid plugin. If I keep this car for another 5 years or so, I am not sure that that a petrol only engine will keep it’s value.

  • Fredrik

    Super cool as a coupe, the 5 door is not bad either but I’d rather have a Velar (not considering off road capabilities).

  • EHans

    clearly they have cast aside being original and have opted instead to chase the g550 design, they can’t do something original so they intimidate the competition.

  • Dude pedalling

    If it looks like this render I will be buying one. In that colour.


    Glad that Land Rover is bringing back the Defender
    I am will be getting mine with a manual transmission please

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