Editor: Jason “The Bok” Date – July 2021
I must admit it, it was never going to be an easy task trying to review a vehicle with such legendary status. Its predecessor was the longest-running production line of any vehicle. Built-in Solihull, England from around WW1, it served as an aid in countless UN peace missions, Red Cross rescues and was the stage for some of the most prolific adventurers of our times, including the likes of the legendary Kingsly Holgate. But as the old English saying goes “Let’s soldier on.”
What is it?
Pointless question! If you don’t know what a Land Rover Defender is, then you might as well leave this space now! The previous-generation Land Rover Defender was one of my all-time favourite vehicles, built on simple ladder-style body-on-frame construction and fixable upon any roadside, it represented a no-nonsense go-anywhere approach to motoring. Available in both 90 (short wheelbase) and 110 (long wheelbase), it was a vehicle that left an everlasting impression on a small boy from South Africa, me.
This new model is also available in either 90 or 110 variants, however, this is no simple ladder construction and bolt on the steering wheel. This new car is 21st century sophisticated, packing a modern monocoque construction and materials which simply never existed back then. Think of it as the old Defender after having it attend the space program for a couple of years.
Where the old Defender was epic off-road, its on-road manners needed a bit of polishing. This new vehicle feels like it has attended the finest elocution lessons available with simply impeccable on-road manners. If you were blindfolded and told that you were driving the latest Range Rover SV Autobiography edition, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you weren’t.
Apart from its on-road presence, where any defender needs to perform is when the road ends, and this latest model is likely to put any modern off-roader to shame. The JLR All-Terrain Response system is on hand which offers the optimum mode for every type of terrain. To add to this is amazing departure and approach angles and options such as variable air suspension and 360-degree off-road cameras which even let you see underneath the vehicle, the result is a vehicle that lives up to its reputation.
Its available in either diesel or petrol variants starting with the D240 model and topping out currently with the one which we have been driving, the P400 which couples a 3.0-litre turbo V6 petrol from Land Rovers Ingenium Engine Plant to a 48V mild-hybrid electric system. The result is 298kW and 550 Nm of torque and effortless power delivery across the range.
The Modern Touches
Stepping into this ice-cool frosted Pangea Green SUV reveals an interior which in our opinion in the perfect symbiosis of rugged materials and surfaces with modern-day luxury. The cabin is adorned by two large digital screens, one being the digital instrument cluster and the other the central media display, one of the nicest around within the automotive space currently. All major media sources are supported and UBS’s are aplenty throughout the cabin.
In 110 format, this vehicle is certainly geared for the whole family and the dog. Space is vast in terms of the interior and the cavernous luggage loading area includes power outputs, electric controls for loading height, a deployable tow hitch and even a tire inflation on-the-go system if specced. Couple all of this with Land Rovers clever digital backing-up mirror, and you have a vehicle that encompasses it all.
Conclusion & SA Pricing
I didn’t want to like this vehicle; prequels usually always make sequels look dull. The reimagined version of the icon however has impressed me no end. The range is priced from R1 095 600 (90 Variant) and goes up to R1 726 600 (110 Variant) with many packs and options on offer.
It may not be bargain basement stuff, but Defenders never were about that, what they always have been about is offering the best possible off-road experience, only now it’s done with all the best luxury on-road charm all at the same time.