Up-to-date safety equipment, third-row seating, and the need to improve fuel efficiency have all conspired to make a manual Defender unlikely.
Land Rover tragics will bemoan fact there’s no three-pedal 2020 Defender, but the choice to go auto-only is rooted in logic, according to the brand’s chief engineer.
The original Defender, which was introduced in 1948 and went out of production in 2016, was only ever available with a manual transmission.
“Having a manual is just daft” in 2019, according to Nick Rogers, Land Rover chief engineer.
Speaking at the Frankfurt motor show, Roger said there are “millions of lines of code” in the new Defender controlling the transmission, “e-turbo systems”, and many other components, all of which ensures “every time you decelerate [the mild hybrid drivetrain] scoops up energy”.
With all of these features to manage, giving “someone a gear stick to hang on to the gears is really not the most efficient thing to do”, he explained.
“With an eight-speed gearbox, it’s definitely more efficient than a manual, and safer and easier to use,” Rogers said.
Additionally, the automatic gearbox is mounted in the centre console, making it easier to include a third row of seating while meeting the latest safety requirements.
Many of the car’s active safety systems, required to meet 2019 Euro NCAP standards, also wouldn’t work with a manual. All of these factors forced Land Rover to ditch the loved, but out-of-fashion manual gearbox.
The new Defender will be available in Australia from mid-2020 in the larger five-door 110 guise, before the three-door 90 arrives towards the end of the year.
Three engines — one petrol and two diesel — will be available from launch. A plug-in hybrid variant will join the range around 12 months later.
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2020 Land Rover Defender: ‘Having a manual is just daft’