A prototype has also been seen displaying a rear-mounted spare wheel. It's not clear yet if that's a feature that will make production, but it's likely given the car's off-road focus and the styling link to the old model.
Celebrating the Land Rover Defender
Previous pictures showed the new Defender in camo livery on the roads near the Jaguar Land Rover factory. Asked about the official images at the Paris motor show, Felix Bräutigam, Jaguar Land Rover's marketing chief, admitted they were of the first prototypes to leave Gaydon, and said more would follow in coming months as the ramp-up to production begins.
“These are what we call Pilot build cars and testing will increase on public roads from now,” said Bräutigam. “The first four cars are ready, and now the line is running you can expect the number of test cars to grow exponentially.
“In time, as you’d expect, the Defender will go through all the usual test routines, from cold weather testing in Arjeplog in Sweden to extreme hot weather testing in Death Valley in the USA. It’s exciting for us to be able to now be one step closer to bringing the car to market, of course. We are talking about the rebirth of an icon and not just as a single car, but as a whole family.
“Our brand is about passion, and it is icons that drive that passion. The truth is the world doesn’t need another premium brand doing what all the others do. These icons are what separate us; at Land Rover we are rooted in our heritage and that’s what makes us different.”
Bräutigam added that he felt the time taken between the Defender going off sale in 2016 and relaunching could be a positive for the new car, including the liklihood that it will be offered with electrified powertrains as well as petrol and diesel units.
“If we had wanted to recreate the existing car then we could have moved quicker, but it is our view that for an icon to remain an icon it cannot only look backwards, but must move forwards too. The new Defender will move the game on again, and having the benefit for some perspective in order to achieve that should be to our advantage.
“The one thing I can promise you is that the new Defender will do all that our customers expect of it, without being a copycat of what has gone before. It is a car for the modern world, and that means that it must move the game on if it is to be relevant.”
According to the DVLA database, the vehicle registered with the numberplate seen in our spy shots is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine.