Despite a depressed vehicle market and the entrenched dominance of Japanese off-roaders, Land Rover Australia has delivered a vote of confidence in its trusty off-roader by broadening its Defender range from two models to eight.
The 2010 model lineup now includes five 110 wheelbase (for 110-inch) and three 130 wheelbase models, specifically targeting serious off-road users and commercial buyers with its heavy duty 4x4 ute and cab-chassis models.
Land Rover Australian spokesman, Guido Schenken, says there is strong interest from rural, mining and tradies for more Defender variants.
"Particularly with the potential heavy duty carrying capacity," he says.
Prices kick off at $45,990 for the Defender 110 hard top and single cab chassis, rising to $53,490 for the 130 crew cab high capacity pick up (HCPU).
The $48,990 four-door 110 station wagon, identified by its safari-style windows in the roof, is responsible for delivering a modest sales spike for Land Rover over the past 18 months and wagon sales have grown 4.5 per cent this year.
The wagon, which has an optional $2000 seven-seat capacity, is now joined by the 110 four-door crew cab pickup. Both have air-conditioning, traction control, alloys, locking wheel nuts and electric front windows. A new two-door 110 hard top is based on the station wagon and gets a single CD player, air conditioning and electric front windows.
Visually it also has a black grille, wheelarches and headlight surrounds, white steel wheels and roof. It also has rear sliding rear windows.
Also new is the 110 single cab chassis, which has the same specification as the hard top, as well as the 110 single cab high capacity pick up (HCPU), which gets a rear canopy.
The 130 crew cab chassis carries over unchanged but is now joined by the 130 single cab chassis and 130 crew cab HCPU fitted with a well side body and canopy.
The 130 single cab chassis is fitted with heavy duty suspension and extended tray that can carry 1500kg with a GVM of 3500kg.
Schenken has also not ruled out a return of the short-wheelbase Defender 90, which was available out of South Africa a few years ago. "We're continually looking at it," Schenken says.
All 2010 Defenders are powered by a 2.4-litre 16-valve common-rail four-cylinder turbo diesel shared with the Ford Transit. The engine develops 90kW at 2200 revs and 360Nm at 2000 revs.
All models get a permanent dual-range four-wheel drive system with locking centre differential.
The Defender dates back to 1948 when the Series I was launch. Almost 1.9 million have been sold globally in more than 100 countries.