- The reborn Land Rover Defender has been popular on both sides of the Atlantic in its two-door (90) and four-door (110, pictured above) sizes, so it's not surprising that a three-row Defender 130 is coming.
- The Defender 130 is expected to seat seven in a body about 201 inches long, about the same overall length as the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon.
- The bigger Defender is targeted at North America as well as China and the Middle East, according to a Jaguar Land Rover executive.
While rumors of a larger version of the Land Rover Defender have been circulating since the stylish SUV was first announced—with a leaked document seemingly confirming its existence in 2019—the British company has now confirmed that the new three-row Defender 130 exists and is being readied for market.
This news is no great surprise; buyers of rugged SUVs like the extra practicality of three-row versions. But it does confirm the importance of the Defender for Jaguar Land Rover's bottom line, with the growing clan a sign of where demand is strongest. Defender sales have been accelerating strongly since it was launched last year, and despite the disruption of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it made up 16 percent of the company’s total production in the last quarter of 2020 with that proportion set to grow dramatically this year.
The original Defender had model numbers referring to its wheelbase in inches and included commercial and pickup 130s, but never a three-row SUV like this. The new Defender has broken this naming convention with the 110 sitting on a 119-inch wheelbase that the 130 will share, but with overall length increased to around 201 inches, according to the leaked document, and could seat as many as eight.
Land Rover has confirmed the Defender 130 was discussed during a call between investors and JLR chief financial officer Adrian Mardell in February. Automotive News Europe quotes Mardell as saying, "The Defender 130 will hit a sweet spot in North America, China, and the Middle East, which we’re not yet touching."
We don’t know which powerplants the 130 will get, but we would not be surprised if the entry-level P300 four-cylinder engine wasn’t adjudged worthy of such a gargantuan range topper. The recently announced supercharged V-8 version is a much more likely option, one that would come with a price comfortably over $100,000. Diesels will be available in other parts of the world, and Land Rover is set to launch a plug-in-hybrid Defender in some markets, one that combines the 296-hp four-cylinder engine with a 139-hp electric motor. There are no immediate plans to bring the plug-in to the States, but that might change in the face of toughening emissions requirements.
JLR has committed itself to a comprehensive transformation that will see the Jaguar brand turn EV only, and its entire existing model lineup axed, as soon as 2025. With the 130 plus the strong likelihood of other future variants, the Defender is going to play an increasing role in the company's future.
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