I know they are pretty, but try to keep in mind that the pictures above and in the article are all guesses as to what LR actually have in mind - though some may be more accurate than others!
Landrover has an opportunity to produce a vehicle to compete with all the Japanese pick-ups that farmers, utilities etc. are now using. They are comfortable and refined in a way no Defender has ever been, but that doesn't mean that Defender should be different. It has to be better than the competition in order to be saleable, but what does better mean? More durable? More comfortable? Better at load carrying? Better off-road? Lower running costs? Landrover has demonstrated that an enthusiast market alone cannot justify the cost of production, so they must be aware that they NEED the fleet buyer to make Defender a success, unless they hope to dilute sales of their other models - and BL went there in the 70s and surely wouldn't make the same mistake again!? Even if Defender does move closer to Discovery at the top end of the range, is that a bad thing? Many former Discovery owners adopted Defender in it's later years - and many found it wanting!
If I were Landrover, what would I seek to sell? Well, a Japanese pick-up! OK, not exactly, but essentially that is the gap in Landrover's line-up left by Defender. It needs to be comfortable and offer modern conveniences as standard - AC, electric windows, sound deadening and a decent stereo. It will have to be able to tow 3.5 tonnes (that is expected of a Defender!) and carry a good load - *1000kg minimum in the 110 double-cab, perhaps more in a single cab variant. I am sure there is lots of technology Landrover can throw at Defender to make it good off-road! We should consider though, that new Defender is unlikely to be aimed at the winch challenger, the mud plugger, the play-day driver or the green-laner, nor even the owner of 'One Life Live It' stickers. We have already established that the enthusiast market will not support production. It will be aimed at attracting the commercial vehicle user who's job takes him down muddy tracks, onto building sites, farmers fields and so on. It still has to be easy to get in and out of (H+S, convenience etc!) so cannot be too high. I am pretty sure the L200 and Amarok designers have spent some considerable time and money researching and compromising on this point.
I expect there will be a 2.0l turbo diesel and probably petrol options as well as larger, higher performance models aimed at those who tow or for models higher up the range. There can still be a basic model with the farmer or fleet buyer in mind, just as there is with Japanese/German/Chinese options. There is also an option to sell a higher spec model or models, just as they did with Defender. Why not have Discovery levels of comfort with the practicality of a utility vehicle? Even the Defender XS never got close!
Any vehicle is going to be technically advanced and complicated, that is how the world is now. We want more driver aids and comforts, engines have to be cleaner and it all comes at the cost of complexity. But we will adapt to being able to diagnose and repair, just as we have with electric starters, electronic ignition, fuel injection and so on. Modern electronic systems CAN (pun intended) be made reliable. I would expect to see hybrid technology.
One thing that could be most attractive to commercial/fleet buyers, it Landrover get the vehicle right, is residual value. That is, IMHO, one BIG reason why farmers kept buying Defenders as opposed to L200s. The L200 was cheap and comfy, you could fit a load of farm stuff and animals in the back and it was OK on fuel, but once it was three years old and a bit battered it was worthless. Defenders on the other hand... So economy of ownership is attractive, and if Landrover can make the new Defender desirable to the second hand/enthusiast market too, that could be their USP once more.
We can only wait and see what comes, but Landrover are not known (these days) for launching vehicles and hoping for the best. They know inside and out who will buy them and why. I hope they see the world the same way as I do. I am greatly looking forward to seeing the new Defender, I hope it is a worthy replacement.
* to meet VAT reclamation/company car tax rules as a commercial