The off-roading icon returns with 21st-century tech and style. It comes in a 110 long wheelbase and a 90 short, but does it stay true to the Defender name?
The design is unmistakably Defender, but not like some of those weird spy shots and renderings that blasted the internet a few months back. Pleasing (to some) is the inclusion of more of the original DC100 concept from 2011 than expected. The quintessential box shape remains with the wheels fitted at the far corners of the body making for excellent approach and departure angles. The rear tailgate remains side-hinged with a spare wheel mounted on the rear door.
Defender still uses a monocogue chassis that claims to be 3-times stiffer than a ladder frame.
The new Defender runs on a D7x platform which is 95% all-new. The monocoque platform is made from lightweight Aluminium but Land Rover claims that this is the stiffest body structure it has ever created and 3 times stiffer than a ladder frame chassis. Aluminium may be lightweight but the Defender 110 as a whole weighs 2.3 tons!
In testing the new chassis, Land Rover covered 1.2-million kilometres around the Rocky Mountains, Arctic circle and the Sahara desert.
Land Rover has made off-roading a little easier for Defender owners with the inclusion of Terrain Response 2 allowing drivers to configure the vehicle to the exact terrain ahead at the touch of a button, while an Auto mode allows the car to adapt without user input.
Terrain response buttons next to the gear lever adapt the 4x4 settings to the driver's needs.
As for off-roading credibility, the Defender has 291 mm of ground clearance. The long-wheelbase 110 has an approach angle of 38-degrees, a 28-degree break-over angle and a 40-degree departure angle (in off-road mode). It will also wade through water 900 mm deep.
Land Rover has also installed the new Defender with Clear Sight tech that uses cameras to display the ground directly in front of the wheels on the central screen, negating the need for the passenger to get out and guide you over/through tricky obstacles.
South Africa will initially get 2 engines at launch in the 110 version. The 90 will come later as will other engine choices. Starting with diesel, the D240 makes use of a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder to develop 177 kW and 430 Nm of torque. The other choice is a 3.0-litre straight-six turbopetrol good for 294 kW and 550 Nm of torque. Of no relevance whatsoever, this Defender will hit 100 kph in 6.1 seconds.
These engines far outpower previous Defenders but with a towing capacity of 3.5 tons coupled with a 900 kg payload in the car including 168 kg on the roof, the torque outputs will be tested (especially on the diesel).
Practicality and tech
A much more digitised view than any previous Defender owner would have experienced.
The Defender 110 can be ordered in 5, 6 or 7 seats and appears to make good use of its box shape in creating space. When specced with 5 seats, there’s an incredible 1 075 litres of packing space while with the rear seats folded flat it expands to load 2 380 litres.
The interior has been updated substantially but differs from the latest Evoque and Velar with just a single centre screen as opposed to the 2 in the Range Rover models. The Defender also uses a new software system that responds faster and is more intuitive. It can also be updated over the air, meaning bugs, glitches and updates can be sent directly to the car without going to a dealer.
Accessory packs galore are available so the Defender can be specced to your specific need/hobby. Tents, awnings, winches and roof racks can all be optionally added if needed.
A plethora of accessories can be bolted on to the new Defender.
Indicative pricing for the Defender 110 at launch, in the first half of 2020 will start at R910 400.
While the expected pricing of the 90 to follow in the second half of 2020 will start at R830 300.