Land Rover Defender hybrid: plug-in off-roader on the way
Land Rover launched its much-anticipated new Defender at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2019. Petrol and diesel versions are on sale now, and the company has already confirmed a plug-in hybrid version is on the way; it could make its debut within the next 12 to 18 months.
The company will have a choice of powertrains when it comes to fitting a plug-in setup to the Defender. The first is the unit fitted to the upcoming Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEVs, which comprises a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine producing 197bhp, paired with a 107bhp electric motor.
Should Land Rover use this setup, the car would likely be badged Defender P300e. CO2 emissions would stand at around 50g/km, with a pure-electric range of around 30 miles.
However, as the Defender is heavier than both the Evoque and Discovery Sport, there’s a chance it may inherit the more powerful plug-in drivetrain from the flagship Range Rover PHEV. That would see the Defender PHEV use a 297bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 114bhp electric motor, for a combined total of 399bhp.
Badged Defender P400e, it’s likely this version would trade efficiency for superior on and off-road performance. In a Range Rover, that equates to CO2 emissions of around 70-75g/km, with an electric range of 25 miles. Of course, fitting the more powerful motor would inevitably see a hike in the car’s list price.
Of course, there’s a chance Land Rover will see sense in offering buyers a choice of plug-in powertrains – much like it does with the conventional petrol and diesel engines. Like the classic version, the latest Defender is also available in two bodystyles: a shorter 90 or a longer 110 variant, offering up to seven seats and an array of options including a ladder, panniers and a rooftop tent.
Early reviews of the new Defender by DrivingElectric's sister title Auto Express show it to be infinitely more refined and easy to live with than before, while sacrificing none of its predecessor’s ability to cover tough terrain. As such, the Defender plug-in should be one of the most capable hybrid cars to drive off-road.
The new Defender starts at around £40,000 so expect the hybrid version to cost in excess of £60,000 when it does arrive.