THE NEW Land Rover Defender fits too snugly with the likes of the Discovery to be even remotely mistaken for its original dating back to the late 1940s.
While it’s still boxy and is built for a range of terrains — from the suburban crawl to the off-road hike — it has taken quantum leaps in the areas of comfort and reliability.
In its storied history, the Defender was always the rugged beast of burden seen in jungles, deserts, on safari, at war; basically in any inhospitable environment. Even in the urban setting, the Defender of old managed to give you a rough ride.
But that’s in the past.
It would be hard to see the new Defender in some of those challenging environments, even it it’s designed to be as good, and probably better, than its predecessors.
The new Defender has had a major rethink and makeover. It’s now a big boy’s toy with practical and comfort considerations worked into the equation.
The Defender will stand its own ground, beyond its workhorse history, which is irrelevant considering how automotive manufacturing has changed under the weight of legislation and practical requirements. In an era of flowing lines and bubble shapes, the Defender defies contemporary convention with its perpendicular lines.
There’s a strong appeal about it, which is not necessarily skewed towards the macho, rough-and-ready man eager to climb mountains, thrash through undergrowth and ford rivers.
The angular lightweight aluminium monocoque frame of the new Defender is well sheathed in premium materials. The smooth exterior has design elements for the tough job it’s able to do, such as simulated steel plates on the hood and a snorkel that helps to flow air to engine while you’re wading through water.
ALSO READ: Sniffing Out A Perfumed Trail
Tough And Plush
As you get really comfortable in those huge seats of the Defender, you appreciate the amount of space available and your commanding view. The sound from the Meridian sound system fills the cabin. There’s even a little cooler for your drinks in the armrest.
The dashboard is smartly laid out with digital instruments that tell you everything you need to know, and more.
Technology is a must, of course, and that’s loaded on board with consideration of the new clientele this vehicle will appeal to. Connectivity, the new must-have, is locked into place and replete with options. From connecting your phone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, to wireless charging, the 10” PIVI Pro infotainment touchscreen system presents all the information required clearly.
The Defender is 5G-ready, and, down the line, software updates will be wireless and on the fly. Other upcoming features include an Activity Key watch which provides more wrist control over the car, and a remote pack app which lets you track fuel level, location and journey history.
The bells-and-whistles edition Defender 110 test driven here seats 7 (5 regular seats with two squished at the back). There’s headroom in abundance, and unless you’re in those tiny third row of seats, there’s no knocking of knees against anything. Models equipped with the jump seat offer a good vantage point for those keen on catching the action in front.
The 3L, in-line, 6-cylinder engine is able to crank out 300kW of power and 500Nm of torque to pull you out of a sticky spot. All-wheel-drive towing capability lets you lug 3,500kg with the help of driver assistance features.
ClearSight Ground View technology lets you see what’s around you without having to get your feet unnecessarily messed up by having to leap into uncertain terrain. The 3D surround camera is also useful when using wade sensing, with the Defender able to raise and lower itself to enter HDB multi-storey car parks or wade through 90cm of water in the event of another 50-year flash flood.
Watch the video on the Land Rover Defender’s 360° View.
Ok, in the event you do muster the courage to take your Defender out into a off-the-beaten path and wind up getting caught in a flood, it will be comforting to note that the durable rubberised flooring is easily cleaned.
But you would have a commanding view of the terrain ahead and to the sides. And if you’re well loaded for a journey, you can have an unobstructed view of what’s behind with the ClearSight Rear View technology. At the touch of a button, the interior mirror switches to a digital screen showing a feed from a high-definition rear-facing camera mounted high at the back of the vehicle.
Watch the video on the Land Rover Defender’s ClearSight Rear View mirror.
Engineered To Perform
The Defender was never really built for speed. But the latest model delivers a decent 0-100kmh time of 6.1 seconds, to a top speed of 191kmh. The ride is smooth albeit a bit soft and its big frame accomplishes this without complaint.
Taking it along twisting roads can be enjoyable as you appreciate the amount of engineering it took to get this 2.4 ton to behave with agility.
The Defender showcases its prowess on slopes, finding its own way down if you’ll let it. The next-generation braking technology which is oddly named since it is already in this car, kicks in in 150 milliseconds during low-speed, off-road manoevures.
In the context of the urban consumer, the Defender will not likely to be tested to anywhere near its full potential, which is a shame. But it certainly has presence.
LAND ROVER DEFENDER RATING
Retail price: *$288,999 (2.0P SE 6-seater) – $319,999 (3.0P First Edition MHEV 5-seater)
*Please reconfirm price with dealer.
Read more STORM-ASIA car reviews HERE.
Html code here! Replace this with any non empty text and that's it.