Farewell Freelander, Defender?

2014-03-13 08:13

Land Rover is in the midst of a major brand shake-up. Some will love it - off-roading diehards will probably hate it.

Land Rover’s global brand director John Edwards said the automaker’s future range would be based on “three iconic brands - Range Rover, Discovery and Defender”.

Each of those models could be a sub-brand in its own right as demonstrated by Range Rover.

IMAGE GALLEY: 2014 Land Rover 'Baby Discovery RS'

The all-new replacement for the Land Rover Freelander will become a member of an extended Discovery family, according to the automaker. The new model, based on the Evoque, is expected to be launched in 2015.

The Freelander badge will be dropped as it becomes an extension of the Discovery.

The decision to create a family of Disco models is largely based on clearing up some brand confusion as Range Rover is a well established brand. Currently the automaker sells three families of vehicles (Freelander, Discovery, Defender).


The Range Rover family (Range Rover and Range Rover Sport) has expanded with the highly successful Evoque. According to Autocar, a new addition to the Range Rover line-up, the ‘Evoque XL’,  is intended to fill the gap between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport.

The Discovery replacement will be used as a flagship to create a new family of 4x4 vehicles. Our spy photographers captured images of a “baby Discovery” undergoing testing.

The new Discovery range will be topped by two flagship models based on the Range Rover’s all-aluminium architecture.

The new Discos will be powered by the automaker’s new AJ-200 range of four-cylinder engines, including a supercharged petrol.


Due to government and safety regulations, the venerable Defender line will be chopped. Land Rover announced it will cease production of its iconic 4x4 in 2015.

Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern said: "Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide."

According to the automaker: "Defender production in its current format will stop at the end of 2015. A replacement will join the Land Rover model range but we have  announced neither the name nor details of the new product.

"The Defender in its current format is coming to an end and we are looking at options."

A "family" of Defenders is being prepared reportedly set to include a sporty beach-buggy.


“Why throw all that intellectual property away…” Wheels24 reader Rod Bowes suggest that Land Rover continues to build its Defender, though on a limited scale.


“As a Defender-lover, I accept that it’s inevitable that production of the current design has to end,” writes reader DANIE GOUWS, about Land Rover’s iconic 4x4.

Do you think there are some things that just shouldn't be touched, anchors in motoring history, such as Defender. Let's have your views by email or in the Readers' Comments section below.

  • Jurie Nel - 2014-03-13 09:51

    The Defender is no "anchor in history". It shares its basic looks (up to a point) with the REAL Land Rovers but not the rugged, bone shaking, basic dependability or driver-repairability. It is a good off-roader yes - provided it does not go too far from the nearest recovery vehicle. "Retrostyled" vehicles are a pain where I don't want one. The only one that remotely captures the character of the original is the lovely little Fiat, calling the "Nuova 500" of the fifties back into memory.

      Nicholas Wessels - 2014-03-13 11:07

      Totally agree. We have an inside family joke about Landrovers (my father in-law is a Landie fanatic). We have been on no less than 4 holidays and safari's that have been cut short by Landrover breakdowns. This ranges from Discovery to Freelander to Defender breakdowns. All of them are unreliable.

      Nick Bornman - 2014-03-13 16:30

      Crap man - I have a 300Tdi Defender that is 16 years old and has 320 000 kms on the clock and I do hard Safaris to Botswana and Namibia and I have not had a days problems - show me a Toyota that has done that??? It will be rusted and on a scrap heap !!!

      Nico Basson - 2014-03-14 03:00

      What is up with all the Toyota hate by Land Rover owners? It seems like when anyone says anything about a Land Rover then the Landie fanatics have a knee-jerk "Toyota is crap" reaction. And before I'm accused of "working for Toyota" again, no I don't, I find Toyotas boring quite frankly.

      Koos Luerre - 2014-03-14 06:44

      Land Rover has moved on. But some of theircritics got solidly stuck in the past. The Disco 1,2 3 and the Freelander 1 were not good cars. But the Freelander 2 and Disco 4 are great reliable cars. Time to move on..

      Richard Leonard - 2014-06-27 16:11

      I have a gen1 Freelander, it has 167000KM and 10 years old and is going perfectly great! my sister has an Evoque, and cousin with a really old 110 Defender that has been from London to cape town twice! So Your argument is invalid! If you or Nicholas had problems with a Land Rover, then I'm afraid YOU DON"T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE THEM. if you have problems don't blame the brand...LEARN to DRIVE HER properly.

  • Gwilym John Howes - 2014-03-13 10:26

    Doesn't really matter what they do - they can't make it worse!

  • Thinking out loud - 2014-03-13 13:21

    You can create a New Defender to meet modern Safety and Emission standards, but you cannot drop the Defender Name Plate. It is an Iconic name, as the Land Cruiser is to Toyota, Patrol is to Nissan, Pajero is to Mitsubishi, Wrangler is to Jeep and the Gelandewagen is to Mercedes... It is a Vital Organ to the brand! Freelander is rubbish anyway so don't care much for it as long as they don't disgrace the Disco nameplate with another poor softroader...

  • Michael Moolman - 2014-03-14 05:47

    I am the proud owner of a Defender...a 1989 Pick Up; and it's only for sale if you are as wealthy as Mr Gates.

      jeremy thorpe - 2014-03-17 09:08

      Looks like you'll be keeping it indefinitely then Michael! The problem with the Defender is that it's stuck in a time warp and is now desperately old-fashioned. It should have been progressively updated over the past 30 years - but Land Rover neglected to do that. I agree though that the name should be retained for whatever replaces it. Oh, by the way, I had a '96 Discovery 1 for several years up to 2004. Not the greatest 4 x 4 ever made. It was the V8 so it was very thirsty - and slower than most of today's diesels. But it never went wrong, despite some of the really vile tracks I threw at it.....

  • Johan Theron - 2014-03-17 16:41

    Show me any vehicle that looks good in the bush when it is kitted out and that can take everything thrown at it like a Defender! They all look like Dinky toys with things stuck onto them. Long live the Defender!

  • Fred Smith - 2014-05-17 13:08

    I'm a first time Land Rover owner with an FL2. OK I know its not a hardcore 4x4 but it has gone to some crazy places where soft roaders are not supposed to go and touch wood, not so much as a hicup. Hopefully the new product will not throw away any of these capabilities in favour of high volume pavement parker sales.

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