The head of Jaguar Land Rover has promised the new Defender will be completely different to the original, before taking a swipe at Mercedes-Benz for taking only a "halfway approach" with its second-generation G-Class.
Speaking to CarAdvice, Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth echoed earlier comments from the British brand’s design chief that the upcoming Defender would “appeal to a new generation” (late in 2017, Gerry McGovern said Defender loyalists “probably won’t buy a new one”).
“The better solution is always the enemy of the good one. The old Defender was very good, but be assured the new one will be exceptional,” Speth told the Australian publication, suggesting the new Defender (due in 2019) would still be highly capable off the beaten track.
“It requires a state-of-the-art design and technology in this kind of vehicle, so looking only forwards, not backwards,” Speth added.
When asked for his thoughts on Mercedes-Benz’s approach with the G-Class – which has retained its general shape while gaining plenty of on-board technology, including a widescreen cockpit – the Jaguar Land Rover boss couldn’t resist a swing at the Germans.
“I think it’s a very interesting approach to keep designing the same vehicle but move ahead with new technology inside, but at the end of the day it’s only a halfway approach," he said of the G-Class.
“To be really relevant while using the latest technology, and to hit all our environmental targets, we can’t keep looking back. We have to move forward in this regard.
“Technology is going to be mandatory in the new Defender. You simply can’t build this kind of vehicle without it anymore. You can’t achieve the emissions levels and you cannot achieve the CO2 levels required of vehicles these days."
In March 2018, a high-ranking Land Rover designer hit out at the G-Class, saying he “tried analysing it to see what was new” but found very little.