When you have an icon as legendary as Land Rover’s Defender and you’re working on an all-new version you need to be thorough. Which is why Land Rover is announcing that it’s just topped 1.2 million kilometres of testing. And the prototype is going on a mission to help protect wildlife in Kenya.
1.2 million kilometres. That’s about three trips to the moon. One-way trips, that is. Or almost enough distance to develop a new Defender. The rebirth of the legendary off-roader that traces its history back 71 years.
So what does all that testing encompass? It starts with more than 45,000 tests at altitudes up to 10,000 feet. And in temperatures ranging from -40C to +50. In places like Moab, Utah, Arjeplog, Sweden, Dubai, New York City, and even the Nurburgring. And, of course, lots of development at Land Rover’s home in Gaydon, UK.
But the next test for the new Defender is the trunk test.
Land Rover has been a partner of the Tusk Trust for 15 years. Tusk Trust is a British non-profit that was set up to protect elephants in Africa. The Trust works to protect wildlife and fight the illegal wildlife trade.
They’ll be getting a new Defender prototype, for what Land Rover calls field testing. The Defender will operate on the 14,000 hectare Borana Conservancy in Kenya, home to a wide range of wildlife including endangered black rhinos.
There, the Defender will tow heavy loads, wade through rivers, and carry supplies. Because while development miles are one thing, real-world use can be a completely different experience.
“The incredible opportunity to put it to the test in the field, supporting operations at the Borana Conservancy in Kenya, with Tusk, will allow our engineers to verify that we are meeting this target as we enter the final phase of our development programme,” said Nick Rogers, director, product engineering.
The announcement also comes with some better looks at the camouflaged new Defender. While it’s very heavily wrapped, the look seems to be a familiar one for Land Rover. A model that’s very square and upright. It looks more like a new small Discovery than modernized Defender, but a good camouflage wrap can do an impressive job of hiding styling cues.
Land Rover is expected to reveal the production version of the new Defender sometime around the Frankfurt auto show this September.