Cheer up, Land Rover fans: A new Defender could arrive as early as 2016

To the dismay of pith-helmetted explorers everywhere, the Land Rover Defender will cease production next year. However, the wait for a new model may not be as long as originally thought.

The next Defender could launch as early as 2016, according to a new report from Autocar, and Land Rover may even preview it with a concept car at the Geneva, New York, or Frankfurt auto shows in 2015.

If Land Rover really can put the new Defender on sale that quickly, it could arrive at dealerships not long after the last 2015 models leave the lot.

Of course, it may never arrive in U.S. dealerships. The current Defender hasn’t been sold here in over a decade, but a new model would give Land Rover the opportunity to design in compliance to safety standards the old one doesn’t meet. So keep your fingers crossed.

Related: Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations may build a Defender performance model

There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the next Defender, but this latest report suggests it will be based on a unibody chassis, but will also have a traditional ladder frame for extra structural rigidity.

Land Rover uses the same arrangement in the current Discovery (a.k.a. LR4), but it results in a very heavy vehicle.

The Defender may also get one of the new Ingenium four-cylinder engines that debuted with the Discovery Sport and Jaguar XE. These downsized diesel and gasoline engines were designed for efficiency, something not normally associated with the brick-like Defender.

Purists may scoff, but the Defender may also move upmarket, and gain more luxury and tech features. Mercedes-Benz has a similar trajectory in mind for its old-school off roader, The G-Class.

So while fans may not have to live without a new Defender for long, they may also consider that new model a Defender in name only.

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