Testing continues as prototype fleet comfortably exceeds 1,000,000km.
The return of an iconic model is always a difficult affair, with carmakers going to the ends of the earth to ensure that the product that they (eventually) put out hits all the right notes and does right by the name they carry. Land Rover is not taking any chances with its new-generation Defender which, despite already having hit 1.2-million kilometres in testing across the prototype fleet, will now be deployed in Kenya to ensure that it deserves to be called the Defender.
This is no gap year trip to a far-flung country, though. The Defender will be put to its paces in the 35,000 acre Borana Conservancy, in the latest cooperative effort between Land Rover and the Tusk Trust in the last 15-years. It won’t be posing for Instagram photos on dusty tracks – it’ll be hauling supplies, towing things, and swimming through rivers on a regular basis. Land Rover says that by the end of this, the new Defender would have successfully passed more than 45,000 individual tests in some of the most hirsute environments in the world.
Prior to arriving in Kenya, these prototype cars were already subject to heat as high as 50ºC in the desert, and as low as -40ºC in the Arctic, and altitudes of up to 10,000ft in the Rocky Mountains. On paper it seems like the Defender will be all that it needs to be already, but they’re clearly taking no chances.
“In addition to the extensive simulation and rig testing, we’ve driven new Defender 1.2 million kilometers across all terrains and in extreme climates to ensure that it is the toughest and most capable Land Rover vehicle ever made. The incredible opportunity to put it to the test in the field, supporting operations at the Borana Conservancy in Kenya, with Tusk, will allow our engineers to verify that we are meeting this target as we enter the final phase of our development program.” – Nick Rogers, Executive Director (Product Engineering), Jaguar-Land Rover
If you think that the new Defender will be the same piece of hard-wearing cog-iron, you’d be wrong, as it seems that Land Rover has put the Defender through its paces at the Nürburgring as part of its prototype testing schedule (insert laughter here). We trust that the new Defender will be a far more refined thing than it ever was before, and with a launch date set for later this year, we’re unbelievably excited to see if it’ll be another JLR hit, or a terribly woeful miss. Stay tuned.