JLR announces a new variant of the Defender 4x4 with up to eight seats
- 2+3+3 seat layout
- Extended wheelbase
- Due to be fully revealed 31 May
Land Rover designed the Defender to stand up to anything, but carrying a large family in comfort has always been beyond its capabilities. Until now, that is, because the British marque has announced the new eight-seater Land Rover Defender 130. This new model will be the largest in the ever-expanding Defender line-up and will feature a unique 2+3+3 seating layout.
Full details of the new car will be released at the end of May, but we expect it to cost slightly more than the current largest model – the five-plus-two-seater 110. The Land Rover Defender is one of our favourite 4x4s, with very few direct rivals; it simultaneously provides a more rugged alternative to a BMW X5 as well as a more luxurious substitute for the Jeep Wrangler off-roader.
The Defender 130’s 2+3+3 eight-seat layout is typically reserved for large MPVs or vans with windows. To accommodate these extra seats, we expect the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) to grow somewhat compared with the 110 model. Rumours suggest the 130 will measure up at 5.1 metres long – making it 342mm longer than the Defender 110, and an equally substantial 227mm longer than the more expensive Mercedes G-Class.
Unfortunately, the Defender is no longer available with the optional fold-down armrest/jump seat in the front row. Therefore, the possibility of a nine-seater Defender is pretty slim, something that would make the rugged SUV more practical than some minibuses.
All of this comes after a host of updates to the new Defender line-up over the past few years. The Defender arrived to a mixed reception in 2019, with many praising its off-road capability and hi-tech interior, while others felt it was a departure from the old car’s utilitarian nature.
In 2021, the Defender received a small update which introduced Jaguar Land Rover’s new PIVI Pro infotainment system, as well as a muscular 5.0-litre V8 model; customers who prefer something more frugal can already choose from a range of petrol and diesel engines, plus a company car tax-busting plug-in hybrid with up-to 27 miles of pure electric range.