Land Rover’s design boss has admitted that the styling of the new Defender will be “polarising”, adding that he doesn’t expect diehard Defender fans to buy the new one.

Codenamed L663 D7u, the new-generation Defender is expected to run on the automaker’s all-aluminium platform, ditching the original’s ladder-frame chassis.

Gerry McGovern, the British brand’s design director, told Drive that while the next-generation Defender would retain the original’s off-road capability, it wouldn’t necessarily look much like its iconic predecessor (and would certainly do without exposed rivets).

“I do think it needs to acknowledge the great heritage of Defender in terms of its capabilities, durability and its robustness, but not necessarily in terms of its visual quality,” McGovern told the Australian publication.

“I think you have to be careful. I don’t think we should be doing a pastiche of what we have been doing before. What we have to do with the new Defender … it will be quite polarising to the Discovery and Range Rover. If are expecting a facsimile of the old one with all this new technology then I don’t think they’ll be pleased,” he admitted.

McGovern explained that he would not allow hard-core Defender fans to "dictate" to him, even though he "respected" them.

“I think if you get preoccupied with it, then you mess it up. I would love for the loyalists to harness the vehicle for what it is. The reality is the loyalists are loyalists and they love their Defenders, but they probably won’t buy a new one because they love the old one.

“While we respect them, it would be wrong to be dictated and preoccupied by them. This vehicle will have to appeal to a new generation by virtue of its scale – it will need to sell in much bigger numbers than the original. And in order to get the investment back that’s going into it, it will be a global vehicle and it will have to bring more people to the brand. There will be a lot of people coming to it that won’t have any preconceived ideas about it and will consider it on its merit.

“The design language has to reflect the age we live in and the Defender is the one that can embrace a more industrial design approach,” he added.