Report: Land Rover Axes Hardcore Defender

There has been much scuttlebutt over what the second-generation Land Rover Defender will be. Could it be a compact crossover? Maybe an even harder-core off-roader? Will the Defender split into two models and be both? According to the latest report, a basic off-roader is out and a more-upscale Defender crossover is in.

According to Autocar, this shift in product planning has set the next Defender back, despite the fact that the current model will be phased out from 2015 to 2017 because of stricter regulations. When Land Rover finally introduces a follow-up, chances are that it will ride on a version of the company's new aluminum-intensive Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA), which is also used for the 2013 Range Rover and 2014 Range Rover Sport. While Land Rover's current facility can produce 95,000 vehicles per year, it's reported that it could be expanded to 180,000 units to make room for more aluminum-bodied models.

Moving to the PLA platform shouldn't dilute the Defender's all-terrain capabilities, but it does mean that the rough-and-tumble work truck will move upmarket. Autocar expects the new Defender to share its version of PLA with the upcoming next-generation Discovery model. On that note, the Discovery will be fleshed into a full model range, and include replacements for both the present LR4/ Discovery and the LR2/Freelander.

The next Discovery will become the flagship of the Land Rover brand – which the company is working to differentiate further from the Range Rover brand – and the LR2/Freelander will be replaced by a scaled-down version of that vehicle, coming in five- and seven-seat variants. Autocar also reports that there could even be a compact, Evoque-platform-based crossover at the bottom of the Discovery line, although that model has yet to be approved. Each of these new Land Rover Discovery derivatives will use a range of new four-cylinder engines, one of which is slated to be a supercharged I-4.

Don't expect to see any of these new Land Rovers any time soon, however. The next Defender isn't reported to emerge until 2016 at the earliest, with the Discovery lineup being fleshed out after.

Current Defender, LR4/Discover, and LR2/Freelander are pictured.

Source: Autocar 1, 2

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