The upcoming Land Rover Defender will be battle-tested when it debuts later this year.
Parent company Jaguar Land Rover showed prototypes of the 2020 Defender undergoing testing in Kenya. The goal of the testing is to push the off-road SUV across all types of terrain. Included in the excursion were rocks, rivers and high-speed trails.
Land Rover is emphasizing the toughness of the 2020 Defender as it nears a public reveal. Video from testing in Kenya shows the SUV trudging through difficult conditions and towing large loads. The Defender sported a camouflaged snorkel to improve its ability to ford through deep water.
The Defender travels through the Kenyan wilderness. (Photo: Jaguar Land Rover)
The challenging obstacles offer a glimpse into how the vehicle works off-road. Land Rover purists express skepticism that the new Defender will live up to its famously rugged name. It uses a unibody frame rather than the traditional body-on-frame. Independent suspension replaces the Defender’s live axles.
The Defender handled the wilds of Kenya's Borana Conservancy admirably. (All photos: Jaguar Land Rover)
But deep in Kenya’s Borana Conservancy the SUV appeared unbothered. It took passengers into the heart of the park, likely aided by advanced traction systems like those in current models such as the Discovery and Evoque. Researchers roamed the grasslands with elephants and successfully tracked a pride of lions.
“We are now in the advanced stages of the new Defender’s testing and development phase,” said Nick Collins, vehicle line director for Jaguar Land Rover. “The Borana reserve features a wide range of challenging environments, making it a perfect place to test to the extreme the all-terrain attributes of the new Defender.”
The test also has a conservation aspect. Land Rover worked with Tusk, a Kenyan wildlife charity that raises awareness about the importance of preservation. Researchers used the Defenders to highlight dwindling populations of lions in the area.
Expect the 2020 Defender to debut in the fourth quarter of this year.