Coming soon: Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX
Don't buy a new car until you've read this – our ultimate guide to the new models coming in 2020 and beyond...
Large and Luxury SUVs
Land Rover Defender
On sale Early 2020
The original Defender, on sale until 2016, could trace its mechanical heritage right back to the very first Land Rover of 1948. It is the very essence of the brand, then, so its replacement is enormously important.
Despite retaining an intent focus on the wilderness and an instantly recognisable silhouette, it’s very different. It no longer has its body literally bolted to a separate ladder frame chassis, instead using modern aluminium underpinnings like the Discovery and big Range Rovers. This hasn’t compromised its rock-crawling capabilities, though; in fact, it has greatly improved them.
Headline figures include 291mm of ground clearance, a 38deg approach angle and 40deg departure angle, a 900mm maximum wading depth and up to 3500kg towing capability – significantly better in most respects than the Discovery and Range Rover, as well as other rivals such as the Toyota Land Cruiser. There’s also permanent four-wheel drive, independent suspension (air-sprung if you wish), a low-ratio gearbox and a pair of active locking differentials.
However, the new Defender is meant to appeal to the broadest of churches, not just hardcore off-road fans, so there will be three-door (badged 90) and long-wheelbase five-door (110) versions, plus an even bigger 130 model in future. Six trim levels are supplemented by equipment packs named Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban.
Petrol engines on offer are Land Rover's 296bhp four-cylinder P300 and 396bhp six-cylinder P400, meaning 0-62mph can be done in as little as 6.4sec, while the 197bhp D200 and 237bhp D240 four-cylinder diesels can achieve up to 37.2mpg. A more powerful diesel and a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid are due in 2021, while a hot SVR version is likely too.
Inside, the Defender has a low-mounted, alloy-topped dashboard that hosts a new, more user-friendly infotainment system with a 10.0in touchscreen. Lots of effort has gone into the seating, too (Land Rover acknowledges the original’s awful driving position), and a central jump seat can be added in the front, meaning the Defender can be specified with five, six or seven seats.
Aston Martin DBX
On sale April
Aston Martin has gone bankrupt no fewer than seven times; this new DBX is intended to ensure it never happens again.
An entrant into the booming prestige SUV market, it promises the performance and luxury you’d expect from the brand, along with space and practicality you wouldn’t. Plus, it’s said to offer genuine off-road ability.
Initially, the only engine available is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8 that produces 542bhp and 516lb ft of torque. That’s enough for 0-62mph in 4.5sec and a top speed of 181mph – pretty much identical to the rival Bentley Bentayga V8’s figures. Both a V12 version and a plug-in hybrid are expected to follow.
Other highlights include adaptive air suspension that allows the body to be raised (to boost ground clearance) or lowered (for added stability at high speeds), plus electrically powered active anti-roll bars that minimise lean in corners. Agility should be further enhanced by a four-wheel drive system that can move torque not only front to rear but also across the rear axle.
Aston Martin claims the interior offers class-leading head and leg room. We’ll have to wait before we can verify that, but what’s clear already is that the DBX has a much bigger boot than the Bentayga (632 litres versus 484 litres).
A range of options let you tailor the car to your interests; for example, you can add a Pet Package, which includes a portable washer for cleaning muddy dogs, or a Snow Package with boot warmers to make ski trips that bit more luxurious.