Land Rover finally took the wraps of its brand new Defender this week at the Frankfurt motor show
The result is a resurgent British motoring icon, with enough echoes of the old shape to keep loyal owners happy in its 71st year of existence, while adding dozens of cool contemporary design cues, materials, clever toys and technology.
The Defender comes in the smaller, three-door “90” version, and the larger “110” version which you can specify with five, six or seven seats.
Externally, you can choose from loads of different paint colours, or the option of a matt wrap. If the wrap surface is scratched while off-roading, it has the ability to mend itself if the sun is warm enough; otherwise it’s a trip to your service centre which will just peel off the damaged panel and re-wrap it.
There are two petrol and two diesel engines on offer, all using Land Rover’s eight-speed automatic gearbox. The more powerful petrol has a mild hybrid powertrain, and next year there will be a plug-in hybrid version on sale. It goes without saying that it has world-class off-roading capabilities.
But it’s the wealth of clever options that come with this car that make it quite such a special model, and explain which you can pay anything from £45,000 to £78,000 for a new Defender.
You can, for example, choose to have a third jump seat in the front row. When not in use, it flips down to create a surface for storage. When up, the middle passenger has space for their feet thanks to Land Rover moving all the controls up by the raised gear-lever on the dashboard.
Land Rover has cleverly split the options packages into urban, country, adventure and explorer. Urban smartens things up a bit with more polished bright metal and a smoother grill. Country adds rugged styling like wheel arch bumpers, while adventure includes a side-mounted metal pannier for carrying gear outside the car, mud guards and a backpack built into the rear seat. Explorer goes the whole hog with a massive roof rack, ladder to reach it and matt black bonnet styling.
You can also choose a strange metal square placed on the outside of a rear passenger window; on the inside, it gives you magazine-rack style storage for something like a laptop, and even includes a charging port there for your computer.
We’ve rarely seen such well thought-out design details that look so smart but have customer practicality fully in mind.
This could well be Marie Claire’s Car of 2019.