Redesigning a beloved vehicle with a fiercely loyal fan base is one of the most difficult jobs that a design chief will ever face.
When the time comes for a new Ford Mustang or F-150, Chevrolet Corvette or Jeep Wrangler, for example, there is nothing designers can do that makes everyone who loves those vehicles happy. The griping starts if the design doesn't change enough or changes too much.
Replacing the Land Rover Defender, which went out of production in 2016 after looking much the same as the first Land Rover, made in 1948, was never going to be a stress-free endeavor for the brand's design chief, Gerry McGovern, and his team.
“This much-loved vehicle has captured the hearts and minds of people throughout the world, in the process achieving iconic status," McGovern said Tuesday while introducing the new Defender at the Frankfurt auto show. "The challenge for our designers and engineers was to create a vehicle relevant for the demands of today’s world while capturing the essence of the original. The new Defender is respectful of its past, but it isn’t harnessed by it.”
Spy shots, teaser photos, artists' renderings, leaked images and guesses of what the vehicle might look like kept the new Defender under the microscope almost since the last version was discontinued.