It looks svelt, but can it do veld?
The off-road icon is back, well soon anyway.
At the heart of Land Rover, the brand, is the Defender. A tough no-nonsense workhorse in the past. The big question with the new one is: Is it as tough as the old Landy?
Hard to say just yet, but there is much to be happy about, on paper at least.
New Defender will be available in 90 (short wheel base) and 110 (long wheel base) body designs, with up to six seats in the 90 and the option of five, six or 5+2 seating in the 110.
Defender remains a beast of burden with a maximum payload of up to 900kg, static roof load of up to 300kg, dynamic roof load of 168kg, towing capacity of 3,500kg and wading depth of up to 900mm. The wheels are still in the corners allowing for excellent approach and departure angles.
A dash-mounted gear shifter is used to accommodate an optional central front ‘jump’ seat, which provides three-abreast seating across the front just like early Land Rovers.
Alex Heslop, Director of Electrical Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, says: “The new Defender is a future-proofed 4×4 for the 21st century, using the latest technologies to optimise efficiency, enhance capability and revolutionise connectivity. With software updates that are sent over the air and next-generation always-on touchscreen infotainment, new Defender is every bit as pioneering today as the original Land Rover was in 1948.”
The new Defender has Land Rover’s (also new) Electrical Vehicle Architecture, which includes a state-of-the-art forward-facing digital camera, advanced ultrasonic sensors and 3Gbit/s onboard network supporting a comprehensive suite of driver assistance technologies. These include a 3D Surround Camera providing both 360-degree plan and new 3D exterior perspective views of the surrounding area, both off and on road providing enhanced augmented on-screen visualisation when using Tow Sensing, Wade Sensing and Land Rover’s ClearSight Ground View transparent bonnet technology, to improve visibility of the vehicle’s surroundings.
The new body architecture provides ground clearance of 291mm and world-class off-road geometry, giving the 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees (Off Road height) respectively. Landy no longer uses the old ladder-frame chassis but has opted for a new lightweight aluminium monocoque construction to create a much stiffer body structure, they call D7x (for extreme).
When launched locally, diesel power will be provided by a 177kW D240 engine, with sequential twin turbo technology providing 430Nm of torque and fuel economy of 7.7 l/100km and CO2 emissions of 204g/km (NEDC equivalent). Acceleration from 0-100km/h comes in a leisurely 9.1 seconds.
Petrol power comes from a powerful 3.0-litre P400 featuring mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) technology with 294kW and 550Nm. The in-line six-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine features a conventional twin-scroll turbocharger and delivers 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and claimed fuel consumption of 9.9l/100km with CO2 emissions of 226g/km (NEDC equivalent).
The engines are coupled to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox with high and low range , centre differential and optional Active Locking Rear Differential.
A new Satin Protective Film option makes the exterior paintwork even more durable. The sustainable, solvent-free and completely recyclable wrap helps protect against everything from car park scratches to bramble rash and will be available as a factory-fitted option with Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone and Pangea Green colours, providing a unique contemporary finish as it protects. Opting for this finish is a no-brainer.
No less than four Accessory Packs are available: The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs. I recommend the Adventure pack which features an integrated air compressor, exterior side-mounted gear carrier, seat backpack, portable rinse system, spare wheel cover, bright rear scuff plate and mud flaps.
In addition to the Accessory Packs, new Defender is available with a wide variety of accessories from a remote control electric winch, rooftop tent and inflatable waterproof awnings to more conventional tow bar systems and roof racks.
Prices for the Defender 110 at launch, in the first half of 2020, will start at R910 400. While the expected price of the 90, to follow in the second half of 2020, will start at R830 300 (TBC).
The direct competition is the Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Patrol and various Toyota Land Cruisers.