Land Rover celebrates the rugged Defender with three special editions
With regular production of the current-generation Defender set to come to a close by year-end, Land Rover is declaring 2015 the Year of the Defender. The celebration will include a trio of Defender special editions: the luxurious Autobiography Edition, the reminiscent Heritage Edition and the ruggedized Adventure Edition.
Limited edition off-roaders defined largely by aesthetics are generally not all that interesting, but with Land Rover threatening to bastardize the Defender by replacing it with something related to the DC100 concept, these could be some of the last truly rugged Defenders of the foreseeable future.
Hopefully, rumors that the DC100 was sent to the scrapyard in favor of a completely different Defender redesign prove true, but for the time being we're looking at these three special editions more fondly due to the Defender's uncertain future.
The most intriguing of the new special editions from an off-road standpoint is the Adventure Edition. This model takes a tiny step beyond basic cosmetic upgrades and gets a touch of upgraded equipment for off-road adventuring, including beefed up underbody protection and Goodyear MT/R tires. The package also includes a leather-trimmed cabin with heritage logo floor mats; Santorini black "Adventure" grille, hood, roof, rear door, headlamp surrounds and wheel arches; gloss black split-spoke alloy wheels; and unique badging.
The Heritage Edition should prove popular with longtime Land Rover lovers. It celebrates the Defender as a modern interpretation of the original 1947 pre-production Series I Land Rover, nicknamed "Huey". It features nostalgic design cues that include a Grasmere Green metallic paint job with contrasting Alaska white roof, a heritage grille and headlamp surrounds, heritage logo mud flaps, body color steel wheels, and a heritage graphics and badging package. The interior maintains a modern level of comfort and style that includes a perforated leather steering wheel rim and gear lever and bright aluminum trim. Heritage logos on the seats tie the interior into the nostalgic exterior.
The Autobiography Edition is the luxury flagship of the trio. In fact, Land Rover refers to it as "the most desirable Defender ever built." Like the Range Rover Evoque Autobiography and other Autobiography editions, the Defender Autobiography gets a slew of luxury and performance upgrades. That starts with a power bump from 120 to 148 hp (torque 266 to 295 lb-ft/360 to 400 Nm) and continues through the Windsor leather upholstery and duo-tone paintwork. The Autobiography also includes 16-in gloss black sawtooth alloy wheels wrapped in Goodyear MT/R tires, unique carpet mats and Autobiography badging.
"We wanted to mark the end of Defender production at Solihull with a special edition, but coming up with a single identity was impossible, so we developed three very different interpretations of the Defender to reflect its strength and breadth of character," said Nick Rogers, Land Rover vehicle line director. "Whether our customers want to celebrate Land Rover's unrivaled off-road heritage, demand the ultimate in terms of design and performance, or have a genuine thirst for adventure, there will be a limited edition Defender that will be fit for purpose."
The Defender special editions are available for order now. The 90 Station Wagon-based Autobiography will sell from £61,500 (US$93,300) MSRP, arriving to UK and European dealerships in April. Both the Heritage (£30,900/US$47,000) and the Adventure (£38,400/US$58,250) will arrive in global showrooms in August and come in 90 Hard Top and Station Wagon and 110 Utility Wagon and Station Wagon body styles. All three special editions are powered by Land Rover's 2.2-liter diesel engine.
Vehicles like the Defender always look so sad and uncomfortable within the cramped confines of international auto shows. Instead of debuting the new Defender packages at NAIAS 2015 or the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, Land Rover did something a little ... no, a lot different. The new Defenders were trotted out as part of a unique event at Red Wharf Bay in Anglesey, UK, the location where Rover Company engineering director Maurice Wilks sketched and pitched the original, Defender-esque Land Rover back in 1947.
Using six heritage Land Rovers towing 12-foot (3.7-m) harrows as artistic instruments, Land Rover recreated the moment into the largest sand drawing that the UK has ever seen. The vehicles finished the 1-km-long (0.62-mile-long) sketch just moments before the tide came in and washed it away. You can go inside the event in the video below.
Source: Land Rover
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They have intended to cancel the Defender before but LR didn't have anything to replace it with and people weren't the slightest bit interested in buying an overly complex Discovery based van. So I wonder if they have a replacement this time and if they will offer it to the US. Right now a '97 Defender 90 in the US sells for ridiculous money, there are two for sale in Silicon Valley right now, one for $48,500 and the other for $85,000!!!
I do like the Heritage version though, with both the colour scheme and the grille treatment giving a clever not to the original post-war Landie Series 1.
Unfortunately, the American taste runs toward luxury more than the utility of the vehicle. My last real off-road truck was a 97 Landcruiser. I loved that truck.
I hope Land Rover decides to import the Defender series to the US. Hopefully, availability will soften the exorbitant pricing some people find acceptable.