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‘Does JLR really need the new Defender in its line-up?’

Steve Fowler 2019-09-11 09:53

With so many other SUVs in their model line-up, Steve Fowler asks whether JLR really needed to build the new Defender

It's been a long time coming and is one of the most eagerly anticipated cars in ages, but the covers have finally come off the all-new Land Rover Defender.

Once again, the Land Rover team has produced a stunning car with huge desirability. I love its rugged, modern looks and some of the clever engineering that has gone into it. Do I want one? You bet.

It’s back: new 2020 Land Rover Defender reinvents the icon

At this point, you’re probably waiting for a big ‘but’ to ride into town, and here it is: I’m not sure the world really needs a new Defender. More to the point, I’m not sure that Jaguar Land Rover does.

Let me explain. The market for really utilitarian SUVs like the old model is tiny. There are plenty of romantics (not least in JLR) who wanted to see the Defender reborn, but are they going to spend more than £45,000 on one? And if you are one of the few who really need serious off-road ability, does Land Rover (or others) not already offer something that fits the bill?

The market for mainstream SUVs is huge, though, so that’s where Defender is being pitched. And here’s the rub: many of its main rivals are already in Land Rover and Jaguar showrooms. Between the Defender price points of £45,000 and £79,000, Jaguar Land Rover already has eight (yes eight) other SUVs. Count ’em: Discovery, Discovery Sport, Evoque, Velar, Range Rover Sport plus Jaguar’s E-, F- and I-Pace. The Defender makes it nine. You’ll be spoiled for choice.

Yes, I’d love a Defender (it replaces a Discovery on my wish list – as it will for many others), but I’m disappointed that, among all its tech, there’s no strong electrification story (which we’re often told is ideal for off-road work). And wouldn’t we all have loved a cut-price Defender that doesn’t overlap with the rest of the JLR range even more?

All that said, it will, of course, sell by the bucketload. But at what price for the other SUVs in JLR’s line-up?

Do you agree with Steve that JLR does not need the new Defender? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

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Mike Rutherford 2019-09-22 12:00 Few cars in history have earned the right to be called legendary and the Defender is rightly one of them, says Mike Rutherford While some motor manufacturers shoot themselves in both feet by playing down or killing off their most iconic products, Land Rover is sensibly celebrating and cashing in on its enviable heritage. And why not? If you’ve got it, flaunt it, exploit it; then sell it to willing customers. The Defender is to Land Rover what the Beetle and Golf are to Volkswagen. It’s taken decades to establish, build and have legendary status slapped on that deliciously historic and valuable badge. And the Indian-owned, England-based firm isn’t allowing anyone to forget it. Even if this type of heavy-duty vehicle isn’t your cup of tea, it’s hard to ignore the fact that there’s an all-new Defender – which, I promise you, has to be seen in the metal. • 'Does JLR really need the Defender in its line-up?' Somehow it doesn’t photograph well...

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