Land Rover reinvents an icon!

The iconic Land Rover Defender is back. It no longer is a body-on-frame SUV. Does that hurt its appeal in the eyes of off-road enthusiasts? Let’s see how strong an impression it makes on paper.

The automotive landscape is filled with icons. These icons inspire modern cars to be awesome at their intended function. One of these icons is the Land Rover Defender. When it comes to SUVs and capability, the Defender stands in Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen, Jeep Wrangler, and Toyota Land Cruiser’s company. That is no small feat by any means. When Land Rover axed the previous-gen Defender, it left many enthusiasts sad. After all, nobody wants to see an icon fade into sunset. Now, the said icon is back and it is time to rejoice. The question is whether the all-new Land Rover Defender remains as capable as the car it replaces or not, at least on paper.

All-new Land Rover Defender – Photo Gallery

What does the all-new Land Rover Defender bring to the table?

The big talk about the all-new Land Rover Defender is its monocoque construction using aluminium. Land Rover calls it the D7x architecture (x is for (e)Xtreme) and says the new Defender has the stiffest structures its maker has produced to date.

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In fact, per Land Rover, the all-new Defender’s chassis is three times stiffer than a body-on-frame structure. This has allowed the company to prepare the vehicle for fully independent air suspension and coil sprung setup, and electrification too.

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How does all this translate into capability? The new-gen Defender gets permanent all-wheel drive, a centre differential, and an optional active locking rear differential. This car also gets Configurable Terrain Response 2 system with an Auto function, in case you want to take the guess work out of off-roading.

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Since it sits 291mm above ground, the Defender also gets ClearSight Ground View technology helping you see the area ahead of the front wheels under the bonnet on the infotainment screen (more on infotainment later).

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Some nerd speak before we move ahead. The all-new Land Rover Defender (the standard-wheelbase 110 model) has approach, break-over/ramp-over, and departure angles of 38, 28, and 40 degrees, respectively. In fact, Land Rover has reduced the rear overhang by placing the spare tire on the tailgate of the Defender.

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As a result, the tailgate swings open sideways now. If you are bemoaning that fact, you have to consider two factors. First, you can now have a full-size spare wheel, a rarity in today’s space-saver and puncture repair kit world. Second, you can opt for wheel sizes ranging from 18 inches to 22 inches and they will all fit on the tailgate without fuss.

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The new structure allows the all-new Land Rover Defender to haul up to 300kg on its roof. Let’s also touch upon the vehicle’s water-wading capabilities. The new Defender shines here by offering up to 900mm water-wading capability.

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To enable this feat, it gets a new Wade Sensing feature that allows you to see the surrounding water depth without getting out. Once the car is out of water, it automatically drags its brakes to clean and dry them up. Not that you would go water-wading regularly but you should be prepared. Now, back to off-roading.

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The ClearSight tech on the new Defender has a partner in All-Terrain Progress Control tech. With ClearSight, you can look at what’s happening at the front wheels right under the car.

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The All-Terrain Progress Control feature helps you maintain crawl speed of the vehicle to overcome any obstacle in your way. The Terrain Response 2 system has four configurable modes that help you alter responses for throttle, gearbox, steering, and traction control system.

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The Terrain Response 2 also offers two novel features. The previous Defender had the option to lock its centre differential manually. The new Defender features Centre Slip Limited and Centre and Rear Slip Limited features to prevent cross-axle slip. Moreover, you can use these features via the infotainment screen.

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The all-new Defender has a maximum towing capacity of 3,720kg or nearly 4 tonnes. A rotary control on the centre console helps you steer the trailer remotely. Land Rover speak for this capability is Advanced Tow Assist.

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Lastly, with Traction Control Automatic Emergency Braking systems engaged, the car can lock its wheels in just 150 miliseconds. The Hill Launch Assist and Enhanced Hill Hold features help prevent the vehicle from rolling back on inclines.

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Even the suspension on the all-new Land Rover Defender is amazing (on paper). The electronic air suspension can adjust 500 times per second. Moreover, it offers 75mm ride height increase in off-road conditions.

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All in all, the air spring-equipped Defender offers total 145mm of ride height increase, if needed. The Elegant Arrival feature, on the other hand, drops the car 40mm from its standard ride height to aid ingress. Land Rover claims suspension articulation of 500mm which is nuts.

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For all this talk about the new Defender, I haven’t even touched upon its engine and drivetrain yet. The wait is over now. The car will be available with various powertrain options with either mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid technologies.

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After all, the car has been developed with those technologies in mind. The plug-in hybrid variant called P400e will arrive in 2020 and will have a dedicated EV mode for zero-emissions driving.

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The all-new Land Rover Defender features four engines – two petrol and two diesel. The diesel variants feature four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engines with torque outputs of 430Nm. Land Rover says both engines will offer 37.2mpg/13.15kmpl fuel efficiency figures.

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Available in D200 and D240 (numbers denoting power figures in metric HP) trims, the latter will go from naught to 100kmph in just 9.1 seconds as opposed to D200’s 10.3 second 0-100kmph time.

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The petrol engines take a slightly cleaner route. You see, there are two engines available – a four-cylinder turbocharged engine and a six-cylinder mild hybrid unit. The four-cylinder P300 motor will feature a single twin-scroll turbo. It will make 300HP power and go from 0-100kmph in 8.1 seconds.

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The more powerful inline six-cylinder motor in P400 model will get a twin-scroll turbo and a 48v electric supercharger. Moreover it will also feature a belt-integrated starter generator in place of an alternator. The result will be 400HP power, 550Nm torque, 6.1-second 0-100kmph dash, and 29.4mpg/10.41kmpl fuel efficiency figures.

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All engines will feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox from ZF paired with a twin-speed gearbox. The latter will be used for towing, off-roading and other activities where low-range ratios are required. The new Defender gets what Land Rover Electronic Vehicle Architecture 2.0.

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Per this, it has a total of 85 ECUs and 14 control modules which can all be updated via over-the-air updates. The Online Pack will provide unlimited data to allow the Defender to stream music, show weather updates, and calendar information. Moreover, an onboard Wi-Fi package turns the Defender into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

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Coming to infotainment, the new Defender gets Pivi Pro infotainment solution. It features an always on 10-inch central touchscreen that also has a built-in back-up battery. It also packs in wireless charging, Apple CarPlay Android Auto, and ability to connect two smartphones via Bluetooth simultaneously.

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The onboard navigation system can optimise routes and when travelling in familiar territory, the Smart Voice guidance system will cancel audio instructions automatically.

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The Pivi Pro infotainment system works in conjunction with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. This cluster can be configured to show traditional dials, full-screen navigation guidance, or a combination of both.

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The all-new Land Rover Defender features a second-generation Heads-Up Display and also gets Remote Tracking tech to offer functions like geolocation, fuel level monitoring, vehicle locking/unlocking, and even turning on the climate control system.

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The Defender also features a ClearSight Rear View Camera offering a view behind the car in the inside rear-view mirror. This is standard on the Defenders with front jump seat included. The Driver Assist package features adaptive cruise control, rear pre-collision monitor (automatic hazard light flashing to alert following cars), blind spot assist, rear traffic monitor, and clear exit monitor technologies.

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That said, the standard list of driving aids has emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, cruise control with speed limiter, driver condition monitor, and front and rear parking aids. For your convenience, two 12v sockets and two USB ports are available up front. Second row gets two USB ports and two 12v sockets.

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In case there’s a third row, one 12v socket and one USB port are also made available. An additional 12v socket and a 3-pin 230v domestic socket can also be optioned. The second row has USB sockets in front seatbacks to charge devices in case you opt for add-on Click and Go accessory tablet holders.

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To top it off, you get a set of key fobs and an Activity Key (Land Rover speak for a band) that can lock, unlock doors, and even start the car. However, unlike before, the Activity Key now acts as a standalone device, totally independent of the key fobs.

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I have spent so much space talking about the all-new Land Rover Defender but haven’t touched upon its looks. Here’s the deal about that – automotive companies like to wax poetic about their cars’ design and styling. I think the Defender is as good looking as any other modern Land Rover. If you are a fan of those, you’ll like this car’s design and styling.

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I’ll let the pictures do the talking here. I’ll say this though – I don’t like the front end much. The side profile is quite nice though and the rear is attractive due to its minimal use of styling elements. Those rounded square lights at the back look refreshing and nice.

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The interior of the new Defender is the real talking point of the car (as far as looks go). It is extremely simple in design and focuses on the driver. The highlight here is the exposed, powder-coated magnesium cross bar.

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It also features integrated grab handles. It outlines the infotainment screen up top and down below. This allows Land Rover to install a front jump seat in the car which I touched upon not too long ago.

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Due to the fixture of front jump seat, the centre console can be mounted high or low. That jump seat allows the Defender 110 to be specified with 5, 5+2, or 6-seat configurations. The short-wheelbase Defender 90 has 6-seat configuration.

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When not in use, this seat can fold down become an arm rest, cup holder, and offer stowage space too. The car can be upholstered in fabric or leather or leather-textile mix.

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Talking about accessory packs, the all-new Land Rover Defender offers you customisation options aplenty. Offered in four different packages, Land Rover also allows you to further customise what you get in either package.

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First up is the Explorer pack which gets you a lockable, side-mounted gear carrier, a roof rack capable of carrying loads of up to 132kg, raised air intake (kinda like a snorkel but sleeker-looking), wheel arch cladding, mud flaps all around, spare wheel cover, and matte black bonnet decal.

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You can upgrade the Explorer pack to also have an A-frame protection bar, a deployable roof ladder, side tubes to offer protection to doors, and choice to opt for deployable side steps or fixed side steps.

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Next up is the Adventure Pack that offers an integrated air compressor, a rear scuff plate, a portable rinse system, and seat backpack. The exterior side-mounted gear carrier, mudflaps, side tubes, and side step options are shared with Explorer package. Also unique to this package is the A-frame protection bar in black.

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The Country package takes items from Explorer and Adventure packages. On offer are mudflaps, rear scuff plate, wheel arch cladding, portable rinse system, and (unique to this package) full height loadspace partition to separate luggage area from the cabin. Upgrades offered with this package are the same as those on Adventure package.

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Lastly, there is the Urban package for the new Land Rover Defender that offers a rear scuff plate, spare wheel cover, front underbody shield, and metal pedals. Aside from side tubes and side-step options, you can also choose between two different wheel styles to upgrade this package.

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For those who want to keep personalisation simple, you can just choose between seven paint shades, twelve wheel options (sized from 18 inches to 22 inches), and three roof options – contrast, full-length fabric, or with panoramic sunroof. There is also a Black Exterior pack offering black detailing to the bonnet and tailgate scripts, front grille, and the bonnet.

Is the all-new Land Rover Defender worth consideration?

For fans of true-blue SUVs like me, there is little convincing that all-new Land Rover Defender is worth consideration and even purchase. In terms of cars that are capable, attainable, and true to their purpose, the only other SUV to choose is the Jeep Wrangler. However, the Jeep sacrifices everything at the altar of performance and capability, even comfort to a great extent.

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Some of us (me included) may like it and respect it, but no everyone does so. For those people, the new Defender presents a proposition that can’t be ignored. What is better than a sea of crossovers? A few capable SUVs. The all-new Defender is as capable as they come and deserves all the attention it gets from you.

All-new Land Rover Defender – Tech Specs

SpecificationsAll-new Land Rover Defender 90All-new Land Rover Defender 110
PriceTBATBA
Engine16-valve, common rail direct-injected, twin-turbo, 2.0-litre inline four cylinder diesel/16-valve, direct-injected, turbocharged, 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol/24-valve, direct-injected, turbocharged and supercharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder mild-hybrid petrol16-valve, common rail direct-injected, twin-turbo, 2.0-litre inline four cylinder diesel/16-valve, direct-injected, turbocharged, 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol/24-valve, direct-injected, turbocharged and supercharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder mild-hybrid petrol
Power200HP – 240HP/300HP/400HP200HP – 240HP/300HP/400HP
Torque430Nm/400Nm/550Nm430Nm/400Nm/550Nm
Transmission8-speed automatic8-speed automatic
Front SuspensionDouble wishbone SLA type with coil-over dampersDouble wishbone SLA type with coil over dampers
Rear SuspensionIndependent, Integral Link with coil-over dampersIndependent, Integral Link with coil-over dampers
Front Brakes349mm discs/363mm discs (six-cylinder petrol only)349mm discs/363mm discs (six-cylinder petrol only)
Rear Brakes325mm discs/350mm discs (six-cylinder petrol only)325mm discs/350mm discs (six-cylinder petrol only)
Length4,583mm5,018mm
Width2,105mm2,105mm
Height1,969mm (air springs)/1,974mm (coil springs)1,967mm
Wheelbase2,587mm3,022mm
Fuel Consumption13.15kmpl (diesel)/10.10kmpl (2.0-litre petrol)/10.41kmpl (3.0-litre petrol)13.15kmpl (diesel)/10.10kmpl (2.0-litre petrol)/10.41kmpl (3.0-litre petrol)
Fuel Tank Capacity84 litres (diesel)/89 litres (petrol)85 litres (diesel)/90 litres (petrol)

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