Land Rover’s highly-anticipated new Defender is set to hit the market in 2019 and will feature more advanced off-road tech than the latest Discovery.

The new Defender, Land Rover’s forthcoming replacement for its 67-year-old stalwart that finally went out of production earlier this year, is said to make use of technology even more modern than that adopted by the recently launched fifth-generation Discovery when it finally hits the market at the beginning 2019.

The old Defender was renowned for being void of any sophisticated tech and Land Rover fans across the world adored it for its rugged capabilities – a trait that still makes it a popular and highly sought-after vehicle.

The highly-anticipated off-roader, whose major engineering is complete, is currently being tested in prototype form at secret locations around the world, reports Jaguar Land Rover CEO, Ralf Speth, told Autocar at the recent Paris Motor Show that he had been testing Defender mules, which were very promising and that the styling, also complete barring a few details, “looks fantastic.”

Speth confirmed in Paris that the new Defender would be based on the aluminium architecture of the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery. However, Speth also confirmed that the Defender’s structure would need “a lot of different elements” to deliver the extremes of strength and durability customers will expect of Land Rover’s most capable off-roader. 

“It was one of the saddest moments of my career to end production of the old Defender,” he said. “So we are working very hard to give it an authentic successor.”

Confirmation of aluminium construction for the new Defender gives plenty of clues to its mechanical layout. Although not confirmed, a longitudinal front mounting for the engine was always considered likely, along with a separate transfer case offering high and low-ratio gear sets.

The suspension is likely to be a version of the Discovery/Range Rover’s all-independent set-up, with steel springs, as used in entry-level versions of the outgoing Discovery 4, given that Defender drivers are predicted to put a low priority on the adjustable ride height that’s possible with air springs.

The new Defender looks certain to use four-cylinder versions of JLR’s modular Ingenium engines, made at the new — and already expanding — factory near Wolverhampton. 

There’s no word on prices yet, but experts predict a starting price of around R600 000 for the new Defender.