Why the New Land Rover Defender Isn't Just a Discovery in a Square Body

Details about the technical filling of the main all-terrain vehicle in the UK.

Last year, Land Rover showed the successor to the legendary Defender SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Instead of a half-century-old frame structure, the new Defender received a load-bearing aluminum body with independent suspensions, advanced electronics, and an eccentric look… and a lot of reproaches: starting with the fact that the car without bridges is unworthy of the name Defender, ending with the fact that it is just a Discovery with a different design.

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But the Defender made such a strong impression on public at the first test in Namibia that we decided to dig deeper and find out in detail: who are you, Mr. Bond? A serious SUV or just an SUV with an inflated ego? The fifth Discovery in a different suit — or an independent model?

At first glance, the evidence is exhaustive — the Discovery and the new Defender are really the closest relatives: they share both the D7 platform and most powertrains.

Strength training

But if you go into the details, you will find many important nuances. A special version of the D7x platform was developed specifically for the Defender. The overall architecture of the chassis is the same, but there are differences in specific design solutions – it is weight: 95% of the elements are new.

The key differences are in the power structure of the body. It was shoveled from top to bottom. The goal is twofold: to increase both the passability and survivability of the structure.

First, the British introduced a kind of «strong side steps» —additional spars hidden inside side steps. They are connected to the main spars by means of large closing panels. There are also minor improvements, such as amplifiers on the engine shield or more advanced power elements around the transmission tunnel.

Some decisions are directly reflected in the design of the car. For example, the rear windows turned out to be so tiny because of the wide body rack with a deep-stamped large-section amplifier. The tailgate is noticeably narrower than in the Discovery due to the massive box-shaped amplifier that restricts the width of the opening.

This photo shows a box-shaped large-section amplifier that forms the rear rack of the body (indicated by arrows) This photo shows a box-shaped large-section amplifier that forms the rear rack of the body (indicated by arrows)

As a result, the Defender exceeds the «fifth» Discovery by a quarter in the torsion stiffness of the body (29000 Nm/deg), its predecessor — almost twice, and the difference with the old frame Defender is almost tenfold.

Aluminum + steel

Using steel and aluminum together in the body structure is not a new idea. Back in the 1990s, BMW and Audi installed aluminum hoods and doors to reduce weight. In the 2000s, the world saw more radical steel-aluminum structures, the first of which was used in the BMW E60 series — a steel body with aluminum spars and support cups of the front suspension.

The body of the Defender is assembled using welding, two types of rivets, bolts and glue The body of the Defender is assembled using welding, two types of rivets, bolts and glue

Front fenders and all doors made of steel: fenders act as an additional booster to the front end, steel door prevent side impacts much better, a tailgate is made of steel for a heavy «spare tire».

The Defender has the opposite situation: the entire load-bearing cage of its body and most of the panels are aluminum like in most modern Land Rovers, but the front fenders and doors are stamped out of steel. The power frame of all five doors, as well as the front fenders, is made of strong martensitic steel. External door panels are made of simpler steel.

The front part of the roof is generally made of plastic. Typically, this part adjacent to the windshield is particularly affected by sand and stones (and then by corrosion). And the British solved the problem radically.

The geometry of the cross

In order to increase the entry and exit angles, the designers reduced the overhangs to a minimum, achieving values of 38 and 40 degrees, respectively. And in order not to lose in the internal volume of the body, the base was stretched by as much as 99 millimeters, thus turning the five-door Defender into the longest-wheelbase car of the brand (with the exception of the «long» Range Rover).

The reduction of the rear overhang displaced the spare from underbody, so it was placed on the tailgate The reduction of the rear overhang displaced the spare from underbody, so it was placed on the tailgate

At the same time, they added 30 millimeters of ground clearance — otherwise, the geometric cross-country ability at the bends of the terrain would have suffered. The ramp angle is 31 degrees for the short-range Defender, and 90 and 28 degrees for the longer Defender 110. Jeepers in such cases lift their SUVs — lift the body over the frame with spacers. Something similar was done by Land Rover’s engineers, but it was more technically elegant – they raised the body by two centimeters relative to the subframes by changing their geometry, another centimeter was achieved due to the wheels of a larger diameter.

The stretchers themselves are steel, as on the Discovery, but differ in a more developed profile, and the bushings and silent blocks are reinforced. Pillars and levers are also steel, but differ in design (for example, the diameter of the holes for the bushings is larger).

Other cars built on the D7u platform (the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport) use aluminum stretchers for comfort, while Jaguars on the D7A platform use aluminum levers. The rotary tappets also different: they are forged the Defender and Discovery and cast in the RR and RRS.

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On tiptoe

The clearance of the standard Defender with spring suspension is considerable 225 mm. The car with air suspension in the normal position is a little lower (216 mm), but can be raised on иуддщцы to an impressive height of 291 mm.

But this is not the limit: if the suspension control electronics understand from the pressure in the bellows and the readings of the height and acceleration sensors that the car is «sitting» on its belly, it will lift it by 35 millimeters. And if this is not enough, the driver can forcibly increase the clearance by another 35 millimeters, bringing it to a phantasmagoric value of 361 millimeters. However, manual extended mode only works for a short time. The Defender can «stand on tiptoe» at speeds of up to 8 km/h, since the suspension is almost devoid of moves in this mode.

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The air suspension reduces the ground clearance by 13 millimeters at high speed, and when stopped, the Defender can «squat» by 60 millimeters. Moreover, you can control the suspension remotely with a key — for example, if you need to lower the body to load something heavy into the trunk.

The pack Defender

The British prepared the Defender for life as an expeditionary: the payload of the SUV is 900 kilograms.

The roof is designed for a serious load. Reinforced racks are guaranteed to withstand up to 300 kilograms in static, so you can put a tent on the roof. For comparison, the former Defender has this figure equal to 150 kilograms, the fifth «Disco» — 80 kilograms.

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Restrictions on the load on the roof «in dynamics» are due not so much to the strength of the roof, but to the resistance to tipping on the asphalt: 100 kilograms on conventional all-season tires and 168 kg on more «slippery» off-road tires.

Even the production Defender is designed for a shallow up to 90 centimeters deep Even the production Defender is designed for a shallow up to 90 centimeters deep

Air intake is traditionally arranged for Land Rovers in the left fender. But it is better to operate a Defender with a snorkel, which takes air from the upper edge of the glazing. The part is included in the catalog of additional equipment along with luggage racks.

In order not to break a radiator and other heat exchangers on the road, they were lifted up to the maximum and «pushed» inside the body. Breathers and gearboxes are brought up, and an engine air intake is traditionally place on of the left fender: there is less chance to get water when descending into a river. As a result, the depth of the shallow was brought to 90 centimeters — probably the best indicator among mass-produced SUVs (the current Mercedes G-Class has 70 centimeters, the Jeep Wrangler — 75 centimeters, the latest Discovery — 50 centimeters).

The towbar base is attached to the ends of the rear spars, and towing eyes are screwed to it in turn. The towbar base is attached to the ends of the rear spars, and towing eyes are screwed to it in turn.

On request, the Defender can be equipped with strong rear towing eyes — they are attached directly to the powerful transverse pipe of the towbar base and are designed for the use of a snatch rope. They hold a tractive effort of 6,500 kilograms.

To use the winch, you need to remove the quick-release plug in the center of the bumper To use the winch, you need to remove the quick-release plug in the center of the bumper

Finally, the Defender has a winch — and, importantly, it is included in the vehicle certificate. The Warn Zeon Platinum 10S winch from the top line is hidden behind the front bumper. It is equipped with a synthetic cable 24 meters long and is designed for a tractive effort of 4,536 kilograms.

Turbo tricks

There are three, or rather two engines for the Defender: a four-cylinder diesel with two turbines (in two versions of the boost), already familiar from the Discovery, Velar and most Jaguar models, and a new petrol V6, which debuted on the Range Rover Sport only a year ago.

The two-liter Ingenium diesel engine is equipped with two turbochargers that work according to a tricky series-cascade scheme. A compact variable-geometry turbine and a larger conventional unit with a bypass valve operate in series at low loads. At full load, when the air flow rate increases and the small turbine begins to interfere, some of the exhaust gases and charge air is allowed to bypass it — most of the work is taken over by the large turbine. Two diesel engines differ only in the settings of the electronics: the older version of the D240 has a power of 240 hp, the younger D200 is deforced to 200 hp.

The two-stroke diesel Ingenium engine is offered in two power boosts The two-stroke diesel Ingenium engine is offered in two power boosts

The new petrol AJ300 V6 introduced last year also originates also from the Ingenium series. Basically, this is the already familiar AJ200 V4 with two additional cylinders: the engines have the same cylinder diameter and stroke, identical shape of the combustion chamber, unified pistons, connecting rods and valve mechanism. It is worth noting that the Discovery still uses the old AJ126 V6.

Like Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover is gradually abandoning V6s in favor of inline engines — so the degree of unification is higher, they can be produced on the same lines with four-cylinder units. Finally, it is easier to organize a boost system of the inline engine.

But the real highlight of the engine is an electric compressor that helps a conventional turbine. After all, the new I6 replaces the V6 compressor engine, which was famous for its lightning-fast response to the gas pedal thanks to the Roots drive supercharger. And it is almost impossible to achieve this result on a turbo engine, especially with a large inertia turbine.

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Working from 48 volts, the electric compressor spins up to 120,000 rpm, and allows creating an excess pressure of up to 0.5 bars in 300 milliseconds — while the main turbine is just entering the mode. The «mild hybrid» system also helps to combat the effect of «a turbo pit» — the engine is assisted by a belt starter-generator, which is normally responsible for the start-stop system, at low rpm and high load. A small electric motor adds another 145 Nm to the crankshaft, and when braking returns some of the energy to its battery (48-volt, iron-phosphate).

A peak output of the engine is 400 hp and 550 Nm. The Defender with a petrol V6 accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.

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The graph shows that the turbo engine without the help of an electric compressor and a starter generator is noticeably inferior to the former compressor V6 in the first seconds of acceleration. And with them, the Range Rover Sport exceeds the dynamics of the car with the same engine in all conditions.

Driving issues

As for the transmission, it is borrowed from the Discovery.

However, the Disco has two gearboxes — a standard one-speed transmission with an inter-axis differential from Torsen or a more «advanced» one with a downshift and forced locking of the central differential.

All Defenders are equipped with a "distributor" with a downshift and locking of the center differentialThe Terrain Response system, which controls all-wheel drive, stabilization systems and other on-board electronics, has received a separate mode with individual calibrations for the first timeMany people's favorite "jeep" accessory - an altmeter with roll indicators - has now "moved" to the on-board multimedia system

But the Defender has only the second option, as it is more suitable for heavy off-road driving. Locking the rear inter-wheel differential is optional, as on the Discovery. The Defender also received reinforced cardan shaft and half-shaft flanges.The Defender has various eight-speed automatic ZF transmissions with different ratios on version with diesel and petrol engines.

Brake-by-wire

One of the main innovations on the Defender is a fundamentally new brake system. But this is not exactly what we are used to imagining — there are no wires running from the pedal directly to the brake mechanisms.

Integrated Bosch brake system unit Integrated Bosch brake system unit

In reality, the brake drive is hydraulic, but the pressure in the system is created not by the pedal, but by a complex electronic-hydraulic modulator from Bosch — there is really no direct connection between the driver's foot and the brake pads. One electronic-hydraulic unit functions as a brake cylinder, brake booster and ABS unit. This system makes it relatively easy to implement regenerative braking on a car with a hybrid power unit.

Journalists who have already tried the car on the move criticized the system for a lack of feedback on the pedal. But it has a lot of advantages: it is twice the speed of operation, increased efficiency of electronic assistants and the absence of vibration when the ABS is triggered. Although whether to consider the latter an advantage is a question: after all, the vibration on the pedal does not so much reduce comfort, as it serves as an important feedback channel for the driver.

A similar system also appeared on hybrid versions of the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Wireless updates

The Defender was the first Land Rover to receive the new electronic architecture – the EVA-2 (Electronic Vehicle Architecture – 2).

It brought the developers a new software platform and increased scalability — it is now easier to add new devices to it. Now users have an increased fault tolerance (all components have double redundancy for data and power) and the ability to update electronic systems «over the air» (via the Internet, up to 16 systems can be updated without a visit to the dealership).

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Electronic driver assistants (ADAS) include four radars at the corners of the body, six cameras, and twelve ultrasonic sensors. The set of assistants is wide: adaptive cruise control in traffic jams, lane keeping system, road sign recognition, car approaching warning in a perpendicular direction (behind and in front), adaptive light, park assist.

But there is also an unusual functionality that is not found in every model — for example, determining the depth of the shallow using ultrasonic sensors, assistance when attaching a trailer or a towing assistance system.

New infotainment system

The Defender was the first Jaguar Land Rover model to receive the new Pivi Pro infotainment system with a 10-inch touch screen.

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Its hardware has nothing in common with previous systems — Touch/Touch Pro/Touch Pro Duo — which users had a lot of complaints. It is based on two Qualcomm Snapdragon 820Am processors and the BlackBerry QNX real-time operating system. The new system works 6-8 times faster, and now has a fully configurable quick access panel.

Hard worker and dandy

The Defender is available in two lengths: the short three-door 90 model and the long five-door 110 model. In the old days, these numbers indicated the length of the wheelbase in inches, but now this is just a tribute to tradition. They say that there will be a 130 model with an elongated rear overhang in 2-3 years.

The Defender 90 and 110 differ in length by 435 mm: all the difference is accounted for the wheelbase The Defender 90 and 110 differ in length by 435 mm: all the difference is accounted for the wheelbase

Traditionally, the Defender had a commercial version with blank walls in the luggage compartment, and the new car will also have it. But serial production will start only in 2-3 years.

The interior of the five-door model can be made in three versions: two-row five-seat, three-row seven-seat and two-row six-seat (with three seats in front).

The finishing materials are mostly easy to clean and wear-resistant — especially in the standard nameless configuration and in the S and SE configurations. The first configuration’s seats are covered with a strong Kvadrat fabric (wool+synthetic), the S and SE have a combination of rough grained leather with fabric. Only the flagship HSE configuration with soft Windsor leather trim stands out from this range.

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Of course, Jaguar Land Rover is aware that too many owners of serious SUVs do not even think to move off the asphalt. They prepared «their answer to the Mercedes G-Class — the X model with rich equipment, large 20-inch wheels, plastic body kit in black gloss, only the most powerful 400-hp petrol engine and an active differential in the RWD mode.

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The iconic Defender X version is easily distinguished by its black-and-lacquer body finish, opaque taillights, and specially designed 20-inch wheels.

In terms of equipment, the Defender X is the closest relative to the rich HSE configuration: the interior is finished in not too hardwearing, but cozy and soft leather with perforations and wooden inserts.

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