01. It’s been tested across the globe… and in Gaydon
Today we’re on a section of ‘Developing World’ track. It’s actually at Gaydon in Warwickshire. “We keep having to tell the track graders not to repair these tracks,” says Andy Deeks. He’s in charge of the new Defender’s durability and reliability program. 200 cars have been tested across the globe, but a lot of the extreme event testing is done here. That’s things such as kerb strikes, bridge jumps and pothole breaks. Not just testing of the wheels and suspension but knock-on effects such as the loads on the engine mounts. “We’ve had to switch on to some of the harder tracks at Eastnor because it just breezed over the other stuff too easily,” he says.
02. They’ve run simulations night and day for two months
“Lots of what we do here at the moment is collecting data that’s fed into a six-post rig that’s running what we call a whole vehicle life test,” Deeks says. So there’s a fully-built Defender being rattled around 24 hours a day, seven days a week for eight weeks. That simulates 10 years or 200,000kms of use. “The target is no failures in that time – and we’ve proved that out. We’ve had cars go through with no failures – both Defender 90 and Defender 110, and coil and air sprung.”
03. It’ll be available with both coil and air suspension
Air suspension will be optional on Defender. It’ll be height adjustable and – marginally – the more capable of the two. “The air system actively monitors temperature in the dampers and protects the vehicle by changing the parameters of the suspension as you’re driving. But the coil car is still the most capable car in its class,” says Deeks. Terrain Response has been dialled up too, “but basically you should be able to leave it in auto and do anything”.
04. It’s a category 4B vehicle
Which means it’s not just a Discovery underneath. “In our terminology 4B means it’s above any other production car, but below full military vehicle specification. The geometry and hard points are the same, but suspension members, bushes, front ball joints and steering are all more durable and robust,” says Deeks
05. They’ve been benchmarking
But won’t say against what. “To be a global car you need lots of different benchmarks, because what the Middle East market considers to be the benchmark car is different to America, Europe, China.”
Have you been comparing it to the old Defender? “No. This surpasses that in every way. The old Defender is tough, because it’s uncomfortable to drive quick. Whereas this thing is very comfortable to drive quickly. And as a result it’s been designed to be super durable and robust.”
Original source: TopGear