JLR to introduce new ‘Baby Defender’ compact EV SUV model, due 2027

Land Rover is planning to introduce a new compact SUV model in the Defender line-up, and is due to be introduced by 2027, according to a report by Autocar UK. Tipped to be called the Defender Sport, the new model will take the Defender brand into a new segment as JLR’s so-called fourth model line, arriving alongside next-generation models of its siblings including the Range Rover Evoque, Velar, and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

And to add weight to Autocar’s report, the new ‘Baby Defender’ project has also been somewhat confirmed by JLR’s CEO Adrian Mardell at a recent investor conference, who said the “Range Rover, Defender, and Discovery brands will come off that platform”.

“That platform” refers to the brand’s upcoming Electric Modular Architecture (EMA) platform, and as the name suggests, the upcoming compact Defender SUV will be an electric-only model (as will the aforementioned trio of SUVs), taking on a more road-focused approach as compared to the current Defender.

According to the publication, the rugged but compact 4X4 is rumoured to have been on the cards for several years, but has never officially appeared on any of JLR’s product roadmap presentations.

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Compact, of course, is relative. Based on Autocar’s estimates, it’ll come in at around 4.6 m long, 2 m wide, and stand at less than 1.8 m tall, putting it roughly at around the same footprint as the Mazda CX-5 or Proton X70. It’s still significantly smaller in all dimensions than the full-sized ‘L663’ Defender, though, which spans as long as 5.3 metres depending on variant.

The publication adds that the EMA platform will feature an 800V electrical architecture, which means they will be capable of quick recharging, likely up to 350 kW of charging input. The batteries will also have better packaging, and are said to have a “significantly higher” energy density than what’s available on current JLR EV models.

Before all of these come to fruition, though, the full-sized Defender will first see an all-new electric variant sometime around 2026, built on the same MLA architecture that underpins the L460 Range Rover that made its debut in October 2021.

JLR will be hoping for this new ‘Baby Defender’ to act as some sort of key volume model for the company globally, especially with a familial link to the Defender that accounts for a significant portion of the company’s sales worldwide.

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