The new 4x4 made its first appearance by descending an extreme 42-degree incline at the show – a feat broadcast live to a global audience.
The revitalised Defender is the most capable and durable Land Rover ever made and its debut in Frankfurt marked the end of its first adventure, to the Valley of the Castles in the Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan – one of the most land-locked places on earth.
Professional mountaineer Kenton Cool drove the Defender in Kazakhstan and he was here to give the new model his seal of approval alongside Olympic medal-winning equestrian rider Zara Tindall.
The Defender will be available in 128 markets and meets or exceeds the toughest emissions and safety requirements in the world.
The latest Defender will be available in 90 and 110 body designs, with up to six seats in the 90 and the option of five, six or 5+2 seating in the 110.
The range comprises Defender, S, SE, HSE, First Edition and top-of-the-range Defender X.
Customers will be able to personalise their vehicle in more ways than any previous Land Rover, with four Accessory Packs. The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban packs each give Defender a distinct character to help owners to make the most of their world.
Exclusive First Edition models featuring unique specification will be available throughout the first year of production.
A distinctive silhouette makes the new Defender instantly recognisable, with minimal front and rear overhangs providing excellent approach and departure angles.
“The new Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it," said Land Rover chief design officer Gerry McGovern.
"This is a new Defender for a new age. Its unique personality is accentuated by its distinctive silhouette and optimum proportions, which make it both highly desirable and seriously capable – a visually compelling 4x4 that wears its design and engineering integrity with uncompromised commitment.”
Land Rover’s new D7x (for extreme) architecture is based on a lightweight aluminium monocoque construction to create the stiffest body structure the brand has ever produced.
Three times stiffer than traditional body-on-frame designs, it has been engineered to withstand Land Rover’s Extreme Event Test procedures and provides the base for the fully independent air or coil sprung suspension while supporting the latest electrified powertrains.
A choice of advanced petrol and cleaner diesel engines ensure the Defender has the power, control and efficiency for any environment, while a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain will join the range next year providing the prospect of silent EV-only progress.
The Defender features permanent four-wheel drive, a twin-speed automatic gearbox, a maximum towing capability of 3,720kg and a maximum static roof load of 300kg, making it suited for overland adventures.
The new Defender is also the first Land Rover to feature Configurable Terrain Response, which allows drivers to fine-tune a range of settings to suit the conditions more precisely than ever before.
A new Wade programme optimises the vehicle for fording – giving customers even more confidence when tackling flooded roads and tracks. Defender has a world-class maximum wading depth of up to 900mm.
Inside, the functional cabin design is marked out by exposed structural elements and 21st century technologies, including the state-of-the-art new Pivi Pro infotainment system.
The touchscreen is more intuitive and user-friendly, requiring fewer inputs to perform frequently used tasks, while its always-on design ensures quick responses.
In addition Software-Over-The-Air technology, with 14 individual modules capable of receiving remote updates, ensures Defender customers always benefit from the latest software, wherever they are in the world.
"From the start we had an absolute obsession with functionality beneath the skin, from choosing the right materials through to state of the art connectivity," said Land Rover product engineering executive director Nick Rogers.
"The result is not only the most capable Land Rover ever made, but also a truly comfortable, modern vehicle that people will love to drive."
On the sidelines, a Defender 110 wearing an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies livery was on the motor show stand here, as Land Rover announced it would strengthen its 65-year humanitarian partnership with the IFRC by providing Defenders to join in the organisation’s Disaster Response vehicle assessment programme.