Land Rover’s New Defender Hits the Slopes of Kenya to Test Its Mettle

(Bloomberg) -- Jaguar Land Rover’s revamped Defender sport utility vehicle is headed for the rugged slopes of Kenya to tow heavy loads and wade through rivers before the resurrected icon goes on sale next year.

Testing of the prototype will take place in the Borana Conservancy and include carrying supplies across unforgiving terrain in real-world trials at the 14,000 hectare reserve, the carmaker said.

Land Rover’s New Defender Hits the Slopes of Kenya to Test Its Mettle

Land Rover in 2015 ceased production of the boxy British legend with legions of fans from English sheep farmers to Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II. Across a seven-decade lifespan, the car shuttled soldiers during the Korean War and Red Cross volunteers in crisis zones, staying remarkably unchanged until tougher carbon-dioxide emission standards and pedestrian safety concerns eventually made an overhaul unavoidable.

The tests will ensure the new Defender is “the toughest and most capable Land Rover ever made,” Engineering Director Nick Rogers said Tuesday in a statement. Driving in Kenya “will allow our engineers to verify that we are meeting this target as we enter the final phase of our development program.”

Land Rover’s New Defender Hits the Slopes of Kenya to Test Its Mettle

Putting the new Defender on the road is a bright spot for the British carmaker as it struggles with fallout from the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union and slumping sales in China. In January, the manufacturer said it would cut 10 percent of its workers.

Jaguar Land Rover, the U.K.’s biggest carmaker and a unit of Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd., designed and developed the car in Gaydon, England. Production will be at Land Rover’s new plant in Slovakia.

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