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Coronavirus: Land Rover Sends its New Defender into Battle

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This month, Land Rover's new Defender was due to make its debut at a media launch that would have included test drives. Instead, the models reserved for journalists will be made available to UK Red Cross officials to serve the organization's effort against coronavirus.

There’s something uniquely fitting in the gesture, given that the model making a comeback this year was once before used to support Red Cross operations, in the Middle East more than 60 years ago. Here it is again involved in a humanitarian mission.

The Defender is scheduled to make its commercial debut in North America in the first half of this year. Land Rover maintains that its plans in this respect have not yet been altered by the coronavirus pandemic.

When the new SUV does show up, expectations for it are big, in part because of the legendary name attached to it, but also because of its crisp styling. The model will initially be offered in two versions: the Defender 90, a two-door, short-wheelbase model, and the Defender 110, a four-door, long-wheelbase version.

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Photo: Land Rover

Two engines will be available: a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, as well as a 3.0L 6-cylinder turbo with a lightweight hybrid system. That powerplant is rated at 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.

The new Defender also features premium off-road capabilities with standard four-wheel drive and a two-speed transfer case. The model offers higher ground clearance and comes equipped with the brand's terrain management system, which offers adjustments that allow the vehicle's behavior to be adapted to the type of surface it is on.

Of course, we'll have the opportunity to see the Defender in the next James Bond movie, but we'll have to be patient in that case: the movie's release has been postponed to November 25 due to the pandemic.