In a video put out by Land Rover Middle East-North Africa, the new Defender has taken to the dunes of the Arabian Peninsula with some of its elders, cutting a path to the future alongside a Series I, late Series IIA, and an end-of-run Defender 90.
In the film, a Series I, Series IIA, late-model old Defender, and new Defender all convoy through the desert on a paved road, with some early archival footage of Land Rovers in the Middle East in the mid-20th century. The new Defender then carves through an erg, winding its way through a giant field of sand dunes.
The four trucks carving through the desert makes it clear that the new Defender is very much an example “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It’s certainly not mechanically related as the other three vehicles in the video are, but it’s hopefully going to have the potential to carry on the spirit of adventure these older models are known for.
It’s a bit chunkier than the late model vehicles, but the basic lines that we can deduce via the camo are still there. The bulging waistline is there just like it is on every other truck in the video except the Series I (the bulge was added with the Series II when they went to wider axles). So is the slab back end and the boxy shape. While we’re still a few weeks away from an official full reveal, it’s clear that this will be as authentic a successor to the Defender as can be reasonably expected.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) market is immensely important for Land Rover. Part of this is due to the immense wealth in the area – the Gulf States, in particular, are a huge market for upmarket trim levels, and if there are SVR variants, expect a significant number to end up in Dubai, Riyadh, and Doha. There’s already an affinity to spend big money there; rumors are that the 2 millionth Defender, which was auctioned off for charity for £400,000 ($600,000 or so at the time) in December 2015, went to live in Qatar.
There’s also potential for the new Defender in the fleet market. If it’s available in fleet variants, it could be popular with various organizations. The blend of utility and premium, whether it ends up being real or perceived, could make it popular with police forces in Dubai and Abu Dhabi which use luxury cars for promotion as much as utility. It could also become popular with tour agencies, especially the rumored 8-seater Defender 130 that may come in a few years.
There are just a few weeks to go until we see it for real, but hopefully Land Rover keeps this kind of marketing going globally to connect the new Defender to a grand 71-year tradition.
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