Ian Lamming holds is breath as Land Rover reveals the new Defender

FACED with an impossible challenge the choice is stark; be brave and embrace the future, or run away and hide in the past.

Land Rover’s designers will be collecting their medals for gallantry any time now because they have just revealed the latest Defender, a vehicle so iconic it’s like messing with the monarchy.

Ta dah! There it is. Make your own mind up. My simple task at this stage is just to give you the facts; so here they are.

New Defender is instantly recognisable with a silhouette that features signature Defender – and I would add old Discovery – elements, including short front and rear overhangs. Some might say that it looks like an old Freelander has had drunken relations with an ageing Discovery and this is their love child. I know better than to talk about aesthetics, they are too personal, but regardless of your view, score one for heritage.

I have no doubts that new Defender will be peerless off road. You can probably tell that by the looks which are tough and durable. This car will ’ave you in a fight.

It boasts 21st Century technology, including the Pivi Pro infotainment, featuring a more intuitive interface, while Software-Over-The-Air updates provide the latest magic upgrades at all times, anywhere in the world. Score again, this time for new tech.

Defender will be available as a 110 with 5+2 seating in four specs – Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban – and with 170 individual accessories. It will be joined soon by a smaller Defender 90 and versatile and roughty toughty commercial models. Let’s hear it for the past.

Back to the future there are electrified powertrains with an advanced mild-hybrid and, coming later, plug-in electric vehicle options, as well as powerful and efficient petrol and diesel motors.

The modern twist on the interior offers functional, durable and flexible accommodation. It is unique with exposed structural elements for Meccano machismo.

Going all technical for a second, Defender features intelligent off-road gubbins including Land Rover’s pioneering Terrain Response 2 system enhanced with new Wade programme, while Configurable Terrain Response allows the driver to tailor set-up more precisely. Enough said.

For those needing a workhorse it has a maximum payload of up to 900kg, static roof load of up to 300kg, towing capacity of 3,500kg and wading depth of up to 900mm making new Defender the ultimate 4x4 for overland adventures – and the scary school run.

Land Rover’s designers have incorporated Defender trademarks for the 21st century, giving the new 4x4 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.

Innovative features include a dash-mounted gear shifter to accommodate an optional central front ‘jump’ seat, which provides three-abreast seating across the front like early Land Rovers. Ideal for a road trip then.

User-friendly features include practical touches and advanced technological innovations. Durable rubberised flooring shrugs off the spills providing a brush or wipe clean interior. An optional folding fabric roof provides an open-top feel and allows passengers in the second-row seats of the 110 to stand up when parked just like on safari.

The new Defender has been through more than 62,000 tests, while the chassis and body architecture have been engineered to withstand Land Rover’s Extreme Event Test procedure – repeated and sustained impacts, above and beyond the normal standard for SUV and passenger cars. Told you it was hard.

During development testing, prototype models have covered more than 1.2 million kms across some of the harshest environments on earth, ranging from the 50-degree heat of the desert and sub 40-degree cold of the Arctic to altitudes of 10,000ft in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

The new body architecture provides ground clearance of 291mm and world-class off-road geometry, giving the 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees (off-road height) respectively.

Land Rover’s nifty advanced ClearSight Ground View technology helps drivers take full advantage of Defender’s all-conquering capability by showing the area usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen. So clever!

Customers will even be able to opt for a new satin protective film to make the exterior paintwork even more durable. The sustainable, solvent-free and completely recyclable wrap helps protect against everything from car park scratches to bramble rash and will be available as a factory-fit option with Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone and Pangea Green colours.

Think Defender, think accessory catalogue – there’s even a remote control electric winch, rooftop tent and inflatable waterproof awnings. I want all of these.

Defender has explored the toughest recess of the world for generations and the new model has been a long time coming, reflecting the care and attention to detail taken by designers.

Traditionalists are among the toughest gigs on the stand up circuit. Let’s just hope they give the new Defender a fighting chance.

Fact File.

* Engine: Four and six-cylinder petrol hybrids and diesels

* Power: 240PS – 400PS

* CO2: around 199g/km

* Fuel consumption: up to 37.2mpg

* Price: From ££45,240.00 - £78,800.00