The smaller Defender will sit on EMA architecture; will be positioned beside the next-gen Velar, Discovery Sport and Evoque.

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Land Rover will expand the Defender line-up, confirmed JLR CEO Adrian Mardell at a recent investor conference. The all-new “baby Defender” will be the brand’s fourth SUV in its line-up.

Autocar reports that the rugged, compact 4×4 is rumoured to have been on the cards for several years but has never officially appeared on the Tata Motors-owned JLR’s product roadmap presentations. In March this year, Autocar India reported that Land Rover has been evaluating a smaller Defender

The smaller Defender will be based on the new EMA platform and will sit beside the next-gen Range Rover Evoque, the Velar and the Discovery Sport SUVs. The announcement also shed further light on the mysterious fourth model line due to be built alongside the three electric SUVs, which are new-generation variants of current models, at the firm’s Halewood factory. 

No further details were given, but the confirmation that the smaller Defender will use the electric-only EMA architecture reveals much about the new model. It could adopt the Defender Sport moniker, in keeping with the more road-focused versions of the Discovery and Range Rover, and arrive in dealerships as soon as 2027. Most importantly, it will be much more compact in all dimensions compared to its full-size namesake, today’s combustion engine-powered ‘L663’ Defender. 

A promised electric variant of the current Defender, due in around 2026, will use the MLA structure from combustion-engined and future electric variants of the Range Rover. In comparison, the EMA-based smaller Defender will be a similar size to its platform-mates, and is likely to measure around 4.6m long and 2m wide and stand at less than 1.8m tall.

The move to introduce new Defender models is reflective of JLR’s ambition to separate each of its core brands – Jaguar, Discovery, Range Rover and Defender – into four distinct product lines. As part of this separation, which comes under the brand’s so-called ‘House of Brands’ retail strategy, the Defender strapline will be ‘embrace the impossible’, in a nod to the original car’s storied off-road heritage.