The head of Jaguar Land Rover says the launch of the new-generation Defender won’t be “easy”.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, CEO Ralf Speth said the new Defender was facing an “exceptionally high bar”.

“We were aware that the continuation of the Defender would not be an easy launch. Every vehicle launch is difficult. But a successor to an icon faces an exceptionally high bar,” Speth said in response to a question about the British brand running into “difficulties” ahead of the new model’s debut.

The original Defender went out of production early in 2016, while the new-generation model is set to be revealed later in 2019.

Speth admitted he “would have preferred to launch a new one immediately and seamlessly”.

“But a new Defender has to be geared to its community of fans. It is better to take a hiatus so the new product has the right substance, specifications and characteristics. That’s what it will have,” he told the publication, adding the firm expected to see “strong demand” in the first year.

Land Rover promised the new model – which would be built at a recently opened manufacturing facility in Nitra, Slovakia – would bring an “unparalleled breadth of capability and new levels of comfort and driveability” to the Defender family.