How The New Land Rover Defender Became The Most-Hyped 4x4 Of 2019

12 September 2019
Cars, Land Rover
The off-roader's iconic boxy shape has long been a cult favourite among fans, and news of its return has energised the industry like few other cars this year

It's safe to say that here at GQ, we're not Top Gear. We have neither the time nor the resources to cover every major car launch, even if we wanted to. We have to pick our battles, whether it be covering something like a brand new hybrid Lamborghini or a 50-year-old Aston Martin, and that means following the trends of what other people are talking about.

Something has to electrify the car scene a particular amount for us to want to write about it, and when we first heard the rumblings that were caused when Land Rover announced that it was thinking of bringing back the Defender just a couple of years after axing it, we, like everyone else, were intrigued.

What we weren't ready for, was the wave of hype that's surrounded its recent reveal in the last 18 months or so.

Land Rover's reboot of the iconic off-roader has garnered the amount of press normally reserved for a new Bugatti, with car forums and magazines awash with comment, speculation, rumours and opinions on how the car, first in its prototype phase and all the way up until its unveiling earlier this week, would look, perform and feel.

Would it be too modernised? Would it feel like the traditionally hard-as-nails Defender, or just a cushier version of its predecessor? Most importantly, would it still go off-road with ease?

Land Rover themselves, clearly attuned to this, also shrouded the reveal of the car in an almost unprecedented veil of secrecy. They did create a one-off show car as a concept, but never publically unveiled it, according to, 'through fear the design would be copied.

“It was about the time we were going to present it because everybody was asking about it [Defender],” said Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern. It turned out to be a wise move, as the glimpses we did get of prototype cars only served to increase the hype surrounding the car.

Now, more than 70 years in the making, the new Defender is now here, and most people are very big fans. It's certainly every bit a Defender on the outside, having retained its trademark shape with a couple of very modern-day Land Rover design revisions.

As Paul Horrell of Top Gear wrote, "If the new G-Class wasn’t so much a redesign as a restoration, the Land Rover designers have taken a far more imaginative approach. They wanted us to know it’s a Land Rover, and one that’s at home in both the actual and urban jungle.

"They also wanted a new and modern vehicle that articulates a pioneering spirit, in both use-case and in the intrinsic qualities of the object itself. They succeeded."

Throughout the range, you get a base of Air Suspension and the choice of either a hybrid straight-six engine or two diesel power plants, both far more efficient than the last Defender.

It's also endlessly customisable, and seems to have the kind of kit that, should you choose to configure it so, can take the Defender from your driveway to the desert in a pretty easy go. You can choose a pack that'll turn it into a suburban run-about, or fully spec it out.

It really is a Sport Utility Vehicle with a focus on the Utility, which is basically what we all asked for. Count us all in. You can check out some more snaps of the car below, and head to Land Rover's website to find out more about it.

Via GQ Australia