Many of us are anxiously awaiting the launch of the new 2020 Defender, and this compilation video is the most revealing and exciting one yet. It shows some critical insights, including what are clearly 18-inch wheels over a smaller brake package, long-travel independent suspension, and significant underbody protection. The approach and departure angles are better than anything we have seen from Land Rover in years, and will likely be best in segment (possibly even better than the LJ Wrangler at the higher air suspension settings). Here are our notes (with some educated assumptions) by the second on the performance of the 90 and 110 during this short, but revealing video.
For vehicle dynamics, there is a clear demonstration of not only advanced and highly tuned traction control, but stability control as well, with limited (or even driver-selectable) intervention as shown in the higher speed clips. And on the ice and snow, the video shows the Defender exhibiting significant step-out and sustained drifting. On the sand, individual wheel speed rates are highly varied (at 11 and 15 seconds), which shows their intention toward performance in that environment and limited TC intervention in sand mode. The audible note from the engine in the opening scene hints at a larger displacement gasoline engine with good output.
The suspension demonstrates good control and predictability on both the pavement and in the dirt, the body staying flat during high-speed, dynamic cornering, and proper damping tuning for compression and rebound managing the weight of both the 90 and 110 chassis and reciprocating mass under higher cycling rates on the dirt. This should result in minimal head toss and good control for most overland conditions. At 12 seconds, it shows a large input event, with full compression to the jounce and proper rebound control. That clip also clearly reveals the diameter of the wheel and the small brake discs. Maybe (just maybe) a 17-inch wheel will be possible with minor modifications or a custom casting. The water depth at 25 seconds is a positive indicator of not only fording capability, but Land Rover’s willingness to promote it. Also unusual for a manufacturer is to show a jump, as they do at 34 seconds, with the 110 leaving the pavement by a foot. Despite all of these details, what is most telling is Land Rovers clear intention with the vehicle, all of the footage showing high speeds, dynamic inputs, drifting, technical terrain, deep water, deep snow, and deep mud. Capability and durability is the mantra here, which makes us optimistic of the vehicle’s ability to deliver for overland travelers. Exciting times indeed, and we are closer than ever to seeing the new Defender without its disguise.