Land Rover planning upmarket Range Rover-based Defender – report

The Land Rover Defender is on its way from being a model to a full-fledged sub-brand.

Autocar reports the Defender name may be used for a new, luxury model based on the next-generation Range Rover.

That’ll bring the number of Defender models to five, with a ute, a longer 130, and the mooted luxury model joining the existing 90 and 110.

The new flagship Defender is currently under consideration by Jaguar Land Rover, though plans for a smaller model – based on the next-generation Discovery Sport’s EMA range-extender platform – have reportedly been scuttled.

The flagship will reportedly share the new MLA platform that’ll underpin the next-generation Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and could launch in late 2024 or early 2025.

Autocar also reports the next-generation Range Rover Velar and Land Rover Discovery will also use this platform.

The MLA platform can support mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid diesel and petrol powertrains, plus all-electric powertrains, while still offering the level of off-road capability expected of something with a Land Rover badge.

An all-electric, more upscale Defender could also give Land Rover a direct rival to the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQG.

Autocar also suggests the MLA-based Defender could differentiate its interior visually from Range Rover-branded vehicles with more vibrant colours, sportier seats, weathered-look metal and wood trim, and a dashboard with a similar layout to the regular 90 and 110.

The push to expand the line of Defender vehicles comes as Land Rover targets profit margins of 10 per cent.

While Land Rover’s Range Rover sub-brand has grown considerably, its Discovery family of vehicles isn’t doing quite as well.

There’s only the original Discovery and the smaller Discovery Sport, and the former has taken a hit from the arrival of the Defender. It’s now the brand’s slowest-selling model.

With the introduction of a Defender 130 and a more upscale Defender, the Discovery could further suffer. That puts more pressure on Land Rover to make the next-generation model stand out from its siblings.

Autocar suggests the MLA Defender could start at around £59,000 in today’s money (A$110,000).

In contrast, the core Defender range currently opens at £44,210 ($83,063) in the UK and $82,068 drive-away here.

Before an MLA-based Defender arrives, the Defender family will grow to add an eight-seat 130 model in 2022.

It may be available only in higher-end trims, though it’ll reportedly offer everything from plug-in hybrid to supercharged V8 powertrains.

It’s expected to measure 5.1m long, much of the extra length being in the rear overhang to allow for a more useable third row.

That’ll make it even longer than a Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series (4980-5015mm long, depending on variant). The Defender 110 measures 5018mm long.

The reportedly cancelled EMA-based Defender eliminates a potential in-house competitor to the likes of the Evoque and Discovery Sport.

Those models will move to the new EMA architecture for their next generations, which is built around a large battery pack but includes a small petrol engine as a range-extending generator.

MORE: Everything Land Rover Defender