The New Defender Design stands out from the Crowd

July 12, 2021
As the New Defender 90 reaches Australian shores, it’s the iconic design that demands our attention and ensures it stands out from the crowd. The task of reimagining a classic model for the 21st century was in the hands of Professor Gerry McGovern OBE and his team. Learn about his vision for the New Defender and how his team were able to conceptualise a luxury vehicle like no other.


A number of concept vehicles were created over the years to generate interest and start a conversation as to what a new Defender could be, and McGovern found them useful in demonstrating what they shouldn’t be doing when updating a legendary vehicle. Going through these exercises enabled the team to find a balance of modernity while acknowledging the Defender’s unique heritage.

McGovern was aware there was a great deal of anticipation around the New Defender, but he notes that at Land Rover they have developed a culture that puts design at the centre of the business. “The brand did have a very strong engineering background. And one of the things I was very focused on was, how can we put design at the core of this brand that would enable it to flourish as a consequence?…And I think once there was that recognition – that design and engineering could coexist and create a balance that enabled you to create products that are truly compelling, and have that emotional connection with the consumer – you’ll be far more successful.”

When asked if there was pressure on him to make the vehicle more retrospective, McGovern said nobody put him under pressure, noting, “And that’s a great thing… if you want design to succeed, then let it, and not try to compromise it. And I think that’s been quite pivotal.” In fact, he thinks looking back too much is the kiss of death, showing you haven’t got any new ideas for the future. Recognising your roots and authenticity is important, and a car that was created 60 or 70 years ago was right for its time, but things have moved on. Advances in manufacturing techniques, technology and safety should all be embraced.

Ultimately, McGovern says, it’s about designing a product that is thoroughly modern, contemporary and relevant. It needs to stand up in its own right and be equally desirable to traditionalists and people who don’t even know what Defender is. Looking at the New Defender, it’s safe to say McGovern and his team have achieved their aims and exceeded expectations.

Discover the Defender in detail here.



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