Known as the ‘Hard Top’ in the UK, the name comes from the removable hard tops that were first fitted to Series 1 Land Rovers in 1950, offering improved security and weather protection.
Commercial versions of Land Rovers, including the Defender, have been offered multiple times since, with a cargo-carrying version most recently seen on the Discovery in 2017.
Like those past commercials, the new Defender Hard Top is defined by its cargo space, which is achieved by removing the second- and third-row seats, stripping the interior aft of the front row and blanking out the side and rear windows. The latter is counteracted by the ClearSight RearView mirror that uses a live feed from a tailgate-mounted camera to ensure an unobstructed rear view at all times.
While not revealed by Land Rover, it’s likely the floor in the Defender Hard Top will be lined, with storage pockets and a partition screen between the cargo area and cabin added, too.
In the UK, these changes mean that the vehicle falls into a lower sales tax and registration bracket than the equivalent passenger version, making them more attractive and cost-effective for businesses.
Available on both the Defender 90 and 110, the Hard Top is built using the same aluminium-intensive D7x architecture as the passenger versions, with the same independent coil-sprung suspension and optional electronic air suspension available on the 110.
The Hard Top’s four-wheel drive system will be unchanged from the regular Defender 90 and 110, as will the off-road specific ground clearance, wading depth and approach/departure/breakover angles.
Payload for the commercial version hasn’t been revealed, but towing capacity of up to 3,500kg is available.
“We will maximise the functionality and usability of New Defender’s cargo area, with tough materials and clever storage solutions to ensure it surpasses the capability of any previous Defender Hard Top,” said Michael van der Sande, Managing Director, Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations.
For businesses, the Defender’s Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) capability means upgrades of vehicle systems can be done quickly, minimizing time spent off the road, while the while the 3D Surround Camera offered on the regular Defender will allow easier manoeuvring for loading and unloading.
“New Defender 90 and 110 Hard Top will be the toughest, most capable and most connected commercial 4x4s we have ever produced,” said Nick Collins, Land Rover Vehicle Line Director. “They have been engineered to meet global safety standards and deliver impressive long-haul comfort, giving businesses and professionals the best of all worlds.”
The coronavirus outbreak has delayed the UK release of the passenger version of the Defender to August, with the Hard Top likely to follow later in the year.
Jaguar Land Rover Australia are assessing the Hard Top for the local market, with an announcement on local delivery expected soon.