Land Rover’s chief creative officer Gerry McGovern says those criticising the look of the new Defender are “not experts” in the field, adding nobody should “tell the designers how to design cars”.

When asked for his reaction to those who didn’t like the look of the new Defender, McGovern told Gear Patrol he’d spent his “whole life designing stuff”.

“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, that’s fine. What I would say is, when they start talking about the design – design is a discipline and somebody who just criticises design and looks at design and has a view on it, they’re not experts.

“I’ve spent my whole life designing stuff. But I respect the customers’ views; if they don’t like it, that’s for them,” he said.

“But don’t say: ‘that design is wrong’, when you’re not an expert. If it was somebody who was an expert telling me that, then I’d have a listen,” the 64-year-old added.

“Once there’s something there to critique, everybody becomes an expert. Going on about wheel-to-body relationship, plan shape, proportions. When you’ve got a blank sheet of paper, there’s nobody around with their opinion then. But that’s fine, because that’s what our discipline is about.

McGovern said the brand had experienced overwhelmingly “positive sentiments” towards the new Defender, adding “it’s usually the ones who don’t like it who are the most vocal”.

“People think I get sensitive; I don’t actually. If people don’t like it, fine, that’s up to them. But I’ve met more people who do like it.”

The British designer said he didn’t receive pressure from within the company to design a vehicle a certain way.

“I don’t get people coming up to me saying, ‘oh, could you make it more retrospective?’. I don’t get marketing coming up to me saying, ‘could you do this, could you do that’. Because, quite frankly, I don’t take any notice of them.

“I’m employed as a professional. Design is a separate issue for the brand; I’m the spiritual leader for the brand. I define what that vision is, and my team executes it. It might sound very arrogant … which it is.

“That’s not to say I’m not listening to other people, hearing their views and talking about how we get the right balance – from the manufacturing perspective, the engineering perspective and the marketing perspective. But when it comes to the design, when it comes to any of the disciplines where I’m an advocate … you have to respect each others’ disciplines. Don’t tell the designers how to design cars. I don’t tell the finance man how to do all those numbers,” he said.