DESIGN: EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR

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Mixing the new with the familiar

The function-driven, instantly recognisable shape and personality of the Land Rover’s Defender has evolved over almost six decades of development – and thus, the essential silhouette and character of the New 2007 Defender remain virtually unchanged.

However, while changes to the exterior styling have been deliberately kept to a minimum, the interior of the New Defender represents a quantum leap over that of its predecessor.

Design approach

Changes to the New 2007 Defender’s exterior have deliberately been kept to a minimum, with the revised bonnet profile the only external clue to the vehicle’s increased capability.

Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern points out that Defender is an automotive icon of functional design.

“Every line and surface seems to be linked in some way to the vehicle’s extraordinary capabilities, so we deliberately chose to change the exterior as little as possible”. Instead, Land Rover’s design team turned their attention to the vehicle’s cabin.

“Defender customers asked us to improve their heating system, instruments and ergonomics, so it was a logical step to introduce an all-new fascia,” McGovern explains.

“The fascia echoes the exterior’s strong bond between form and function – the powerful ethos that sets Defender aside from its competition”.

As a result, the fascia is functionally superior, better integrated and more robust than ever before – and it looks good, too.

New fascia

The new fascia is based on a single, large and durable moulding, supported on a strong steel rail mounted directly to the vehicle’s bulkhead to help eliminate squeaks and rattles.

A prominent grab handle is positioned in front of the passenger to improve entry and egress, offering two-handed support during extreme off-roading.

The new fascia incorporates face-level air vents for front passengers, as well as a bulk air vent to supply air to the rear cabin. Also new are side window demister vents, versatile stowage shelves and oddment trays have been integrated into the fascia moulding.

A new centre stack is home to minor controls and switchgear, arranged according to the frequency of each control’s use and the complexity of its operation. The result is an intuitive, ergonomic layout. A large, lidded 14-litre stowage box is located between the front seats.

The new four-gauge instrument pack is derived from Land Rover’s acclaimed Discovery 3 and features a rev counter and digital odometer on all models. Providing clear, concise driver information, the pack’s LED illumination provides more homogenous lighting than conventional instrument bulbs and is significantly more reliable too.

The new pack also improves the accuracy of both fuel and temperature-gauges. A centrally mounted analogue clock is conveniently located between the air vents for ease of visibility.

In-car entertainment

The New 2007 Defender’s in-car entertainment systems have been upgraded to take advantage of the vehicles enhanced refinement. High-mounted tweeters are available in conjunction with the new speaker installation to offer significantly improved clarity.

A CD tuner is fitted as standard to the Defender Station Wagon, while other versions are supplied with a radio preparation kit only.

Heating and ventilation

An all-new heating and ventilation system increases cabin airflow by almost 50 percent, while new aluminium plate-and-fin heat exchangers help deliver real-world improvements to cabin temperature and comfort.

In cold weather the heater warms the cabin 40 percent quicker than before and can go on to achieve cabin temperatures a full 12 deg Celsius higher than before.

Air-conditioning performance is also dramatically improved. In hot climates, interior temperatures can be pulled down twice as quickly as the outgoing unit and the new system is capable of maintaining cabin temperatures a comfortable 7 deg Celsius lower than before. The new air-conditioning system also offers the benefit of full fresh-air operation when required.

Improved seats

The New 2007 Defender’s seats benefit from comprehensive quality, comfort and safety improvements.

New, taller front seats are designed to improve comfort and support. The command view driving position has been retained, helping to ensure the excellent visibility of the vehicle’s extremities in both on-road and off-road driving.

Robust, more supportive second row seats are introduced on 110 and 130 models. Mounted slightly lower in the vehicle to improve access and egress, the new seat is asymmetrically split on the 110 station wagon.

The seat can accommodate three occupants in comfort and features an integrated three-point centre seatbelt for improved safety. A spring-assisted fold mechanism helps when stowing the seats to carry large or awkward loads.

Rear occupants in the Defender 90 Station Wagon benefit from a pair of individual, forward-facing rear seats. These offer significantly increased comfort and space over the outgoing model, and are also standard (as a third row) on Defender 110 Station Wagons

Accessible through either the rear door or by folding the second row seats, an intuitive spring-loaded fold mechanism allows the seats to be stowed sideways in the load space.

The new rear seats has allowed revisions to the second and third row occupant package to improve the vehicle’s stadium seating concept, an acknowledged Land Rover hallmark. The more progressive increase in occupant height from front to back allows second and third row occupants a good view of the road ahead while improving rear headroom and backrest angle too.

Improved refinement

The New 2007 Defender’s cabin is quieter and more refined than ever before.

Upgraded sound insulation, the new engine’s excellent combustion control and the widespread improvements to Defender’s driveline combine with the new vehicle’s substantially higher top gear to significantly improve acoustic comfort.

Overall noise transmission across the vehicle’s bulkhead has been reduced by an impressive 6 dBA, helping to improve refinement across the speed range. The new vehicle’s Articulation Index (a standard measure of how easily conversation can be held in the vehicle) has been improved by 20 percent.

As Gary Taylor, Defender’s chief programme engineer points out; “For many customers, the step change in refinement will be one of the new model’s most welcome changes. Not only are noise levels significantly lower than before, but sound quality is transformed too.”