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Land Rover planning prestige ute

Land Rover's new generation Defender is expected to arrive in 2016, and it seems a trayback derivative will be not far behind it. The design director for Land Rover and sub-brand Range Rover, Gerry McGovern, has indicated a new pick-up/ute could appear in 2017, according to UK publication 'What Car?'

McGovern reportedly said the Land Rover ute would be a premium vehicle, targeting the upmarket positioning of the Volkswagen Amarok rather than the base-model workhorse market.

However it's already been suggested the ute will roll on a permanent four-wheel drive platform and draw on Land Rover's tough offroad ability -- which long made it a vehicle of choice for military and aid organisations entering conflict zones.

In fact the reputation and the archaic design of the Defender are such that the vehicle almost stands as its own sub-brand -- albeit something of  a Jurassic marque -- in the Land Rover stable.

There's no indication yet of the design for the new ute, and little for the next-gen Defender that will seed it. McGovern admitted at the launch of the DC100 concept that kickstarted the design process in 2011 that replacing the Defender was "one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world".

The Defender's main battle recently has been to add revisions and upgrades that allow it to meet tightening emissions regulations and growing consumer safety and technology feature expectations, while still retaining its tough, go-anywhere attitude.

Purists mourned when the Defender's dashboard vents -- opening straight to the outside world -- were dropped in 2007, but took solace from the then upstart new-fangled model still being as slab-sided and largely as basic as the old-fangled one.

They would have been relieved at McGovern's reassurance that the DC100 and the ute-like DC100 Sport were just design studies, and far from what would eventually go on sale. But we're still yet to see just how far the Defender has come, and with the ute, how far it can go.

This reporter is on Twitter: @KarlaPincott