Massimo Frascella, Creative Director, Land Rover Global, has declared that the new Land Rover Defender is the latest automotive icon and was a huge project for Land Rover in terms of design. ArabWheels managed to secure an exclusive interview with the inspired Land Rover creative director at the Dubai International Motor Show.

In an interesting and intuitive interview, Frascella confirmed that the design of the new Defender was inspired by the old Defender model and by the ARA Design philosophy which is a very modern approach. In addition, he asserted that the new Defender appeals to the younger generation, having the right balance: progressive, distinctive, fresh and modern.

How does it feel to design an icon such as the Defender?

It feels great! We call it the latest automotive icon and it is a huge project for us in terms of design as well as business as a whole. The Defender is a car that established and gave birth to Land Rover over 70 years ago and today it actually unlocks the whole brand’s strategy. Everyone put huge effort in completing the project and it was a pleasure working on the Defender for many reasons. Of course we had some ups and downs during the journey but it was because everyone was focusing on its success.

Are you satisfied from the design of the new Defender? How much does the DC100 look like the actual Defender production?

The DC100 is nothing more than a concept and an inspirational direction. The DC100 doesn’t preview anything of what you see today on the new Defender. What you see now is actually the spirit of the old Defender but modernized. However, we kept some design from the original Defender such as profile, roof, sheer, backend, shoulders, and wheel arches.

It is a hard challenge to design an all-new Defender from scratch when the previous generation lasted so for long. What inspired you to start the design of the new Defender other than the iconic and classical one?

The design is clearly from the old Defender. The Defender is well established in the whole world to a point that any child can draw its shape. In the beginning of this project, I tried to isolate myself from the old Defender and I encouraged my team also to do the same. Whatever you do, the Defender elements come to your mind. This is not what we wanted to do; we wanted to create a whole new vehicle. It is more about designing a modern and progressive Defender and clearly connecting visuals with the old Defender. It is inspired by the ARA Design philosophy which is a very modern approach. As you can see, the new Defender has a very clean body with one beautiful section, the shoulder is uninterrupted by the only feature which is the wheel arches. The backend has a very clean well-shaped surface despite the abrupt look. The shape is surely taken from the old Defender. For instance, if you put an old Range Rover next to a new one, you will not find much similarities. The reason is that the Range Rover went through many generations unlike the Defender which only had one generation until today.

Usually there are a lot of encounters between engineers and designers to finalize the car production model. Do you end up compromising design elements over engineering like off-road capabilities and handling?

We were certain that we were going to use some of these attributes you mentioned such as the off-road capabilities and handling from the beginning, so we knew what kind of car we were designing. They contributed in a way to the volume and proportions of the car: the overhangs, the ground clearance and all the rest.

It’s been a back and forth process on the Defender. There is one area in particular where we challenged the engineers: the bonnet; they allowed us to create one-piece fender on the side uninterrupted avoiding the conventional design. The final Defender is beautifully done that we didn’t want to have a split line through it. It is a massive piece of aluminum going all the way to the headlamps. So it was a challenge!

When you look at the new Defender, its design looks like it will appeal to young generations. What’s your say on that?

We have to look to young generation and women too. As I always say, when you design a car that appeals to younger people, you will also attract older ones. But if you offer a design for older people, you won’t be able to attract the younger ones. I’m actually pleased that the Defender got the appreciations of the youth, it means that we reached the right balance: progressive, distinctive, fresh and modern.

In one word how can you describe the new Land Rover Defender?

I’d like to think about the new Defender as a “Companion for Life”. It’s the line that I really like the most because I feel it points out the human and emotional factor, you can rely on it in every situation.