Spotlight: Land Rover Defender

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Land Rover has finally pulled the covers off its much-anticipated Defender, promising functional versatility both on- and off-road.

True to its word

First up, there’ll be two new models with familiar names – 90 and 110 – that offer three- and five-door body styles respectively, the latter providing seating for 5+2. However, initially Land Rover will release the 110 only, followed later by the 90 as well as confirmed commercial models that’ll most likely see the rear-most windows blacked out to form a van-like back.

True to the original, off-road ability and strength are assured thanks to the new D7x architecture, which is as much as three times stiffer than a typical body-on-frame. It’s also capable of towing a maximum 3,500kg (braked trailer) just as the previous version could and wading at depths up to 0.9m thanks to its high-mounted side air intake. There’s a payload of 900kg and a maximum static roof load of 300kg, making the new Defender something of a pack mule, which Land Rover has accentuated with its latest Terrain Response 2 and a configurable off-road setting.

Power as standard

Engine options include Euro 6d 2.0-litre diesels, as well as mild-hybrid petrols that benefit from small emission reductions and therefore lower tax. Furthermore, a plug-in hybrid is confirmed as joining the line-up in due course.

The Defender 110 offers 199g/km CO2 (NEDC Correlated) and fuel consumption between 7.4-7.8l/100km (WLTP and spec dependent) from either the 200 or 240hp diesel engines.

The 300 or 400hp petrol options offer rapid acceleration with  0-62mph taking 6.1 seconds in top-spec guise, while CO2 emissions range from 220-228g/km and fuel economy 9.3-10.4l/100km. All powertrains come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and, as a sign of the times, there’s no manual or low ratio gearbox.

In addition to the engines, there’ll be four trim packs to choose from – Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban – that can be complemented with 170 individual accessories.

Rugged luxury

Land Rover has done a fine job of blending hardwearing design with thoughtful touches, while embracing technology to aid its haloed off-roader, including surround cameras that even allow for ‘through the bonnet’ views. The car also pioneers a freshly redesigned and more intuitive Pivi Pro infotainment system that should work its way into other Land Rover products, bringing not just the Defender but the firm into the 21st century.

Pricing for the new Defender 110 starts from €55,600 OTR and it’s available to order immediately. Meanwhile, the Defender 90 will be available from mid-2020 and pricing and deliveries for the Defender Commercial will be confirmed at a later date. However, Land Rover has offered indicative prices for Defender 90, which is a way off yet, and will start at €49,700.

In Summary

The new Defender is an impressive piece of design that successfully picks up where the old one left off. Its charms may be founded on solid off-road credibility, but it now appeals to a more discerning buyer, rather than just the reserve of farmers and military. Despite its reasonably high asking price, the combination of RDE2 diesels and, later, plug-in power and commericial variants make this a stylish and interesting fleet proposition. JM.

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John Challen

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