The Land Rover Defender has been named 2021 World Car Design of the Year at the annual World Car Awards.

It’s the third time Land Rover has claimed the coveted prize following previous wins for Range Rover Velar (2018) and Range Rover Evoque (2012) and is the latest in a number of global awards for the 4×4.

Land Rover has said that the new Defender remains true to the pioneering spirit that has been a “Land Rover hallmark” for more than 70 years and “redefines adventure for the 21st century”.

The World Car Design of the Year prize recognises the most outstanding new car of the last 12 months and rewards vehicles demonstrating the highest standards of technical innovation and design that push established boundaries.

Land Rover Defender ‘pushes the boundaries’

Prof. Gerry McGovern OBE, chief creative officer with Jaguar Land Rover, said: “New Defender is influenced by its past but is not constrained by it and we are delighted it has been honoured with this award.

“Our vision was to create a 21st century Defender by pushing the boundaries of engineering, technology and design while retaining its renowned DNA and off-road capability. The result is a compelling 4×4 that resonates with customers on an emotional level.”

This year, all the contenders competing in the other four award categories were eligible for the World Car Design of the Year prize.

Design experts

A panel of seven automotive design experts reviewed the contenders to establish a shortlist of recommendations for the jurors’ final vote, made by the 93 international journalists that comprise the jury panel.

The design experts included Gernot Bracht (Germany – Pforzheim Design School); Ian Callum (UK – director of design, CALLUM); Gert Hildebrand (Germany – owner Hildebrand-Design); Patrick le Quément (France – designer and president of the strategy committee – The Sustainable Design School); Tom Matano (USA – Academy of Art University, former head of design – Mazda); Victor Nacif (USA – chief creative officer, and design instructor, New School of Architecture and Design); and Shiro Nakamura (Japan – CEO, Shiro Nakamura Design Associates Inc.).

Land Rover describes its Defender as having a “distinctive silhouette” making it “instantly recognisable”, with minimal front and rear overhangs providing “excellent approach and departure angles”.

Land Rover’s designers re-envisioned familiar Defender trademarks, giving the 4×4 a purposeful upright stance and Alpine light windows in the roof, while retaining the side-hinged rear tailgate and externally-mounted spare wheel that make the original so identifiable.

Defender qualities

The stripped-back personality of the original Defender has been embraced inside, where structural elements and fixings usually hidden from view have been exposed.

Defender 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations, while the 90 is capable of accommodating six occupants in a vehicle the length of a compact family hatchback.

Underpinned by Land Rover’s strong D7x aluminium platform – the brand’s stiffest ever body structure – advanced all-terrain technologies and state-of-the-art powertrains deliver unstoppable capability, according to the company.

Experts at Euro NCAP awarded the Defender a maximum five-star safety rating.

The Defender family now encompasses the Defender 90 and Defender 110, as well as the 90 and 110 Hard Top commercial variants.

Recently Land Rover announced that it’s to unveil six electric SUV models over the next five years.