Spotting the differences between the all new Land Rover Defender and the original produced back in 1948 are hard for some. But, there is method to the madness. Land Rover has focussed on the ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ cliché and maintained the same shape over the years, simply refining an already capable package.
Land Rover hasn’t tried to modernise the Defender and openly admits that it’s a niche vehicle that serves one purpose – and does so incredibly well.
In line with the car’s rugged nature, the launch program saw the constituent of journalists tackle some hardcore 4WD terrain, while also going back to basics and camping out in the bush.
The variation of 4WD tracks demonstrated the tremendous off-road ability of the Defender. With a staggering 314mm of ground clearance, stray rocks and obstacles are rarely a problem. The new Defender features a full-time 4WD system, with a low range gearbox and lockable differential.
Under the bonnet, a new 2.4-litre, four cylinder turbocharged diesel motor produces 90kW and 360Nm of torque – with over 300Nm of torque available from 1500RPM. Power is sent through a 6-speed manual gearbox. The clutch is a pretty heavy unit, so it requires plenty of foot work to transition through gears – making me cringe at the thought of peak hour traffic! Fuel consumption is rated at 11.0-litres/100km.
With improved heating and air-conditioning, the cabin can now be cooled in around half the time of the old system. A 14-litre stowage area is available inside the centre console, allowing the storage of the largest of items. Don’t worry about getting the cabin dirty either, as the entire floor can be hosed down after a dirty weekend away – so to speak.
As the Defender is true to its 4WD heritage, don’t expect much from highway cruising. Although it’s not overly loud in the cabin, the handling dynamics are certainly nothing to write home about – but only so much can be expected from a vehicle of this calibre. First gear’s ratio has been altered to allow a reduction in crawl speed, so starting off in second gear is generally more sensible.
Two models are available in the Defender range – the 110 Station Wagon and the 130 Crew Cab Chassis. Priced at $48,990 and $50,990 respectively, the only options available are Metallic Paint ($900) and 7-seats (110 model only, $2000). The Defender’s price point undercuts Toyota’s 70-series Landcruiser by a considerable margin.
Standard features include: Air-conditioning; central locking; CD player; electric front windows; traction control; ABS brakes; power steering and full-sized spare wheel.
The engine has been designed to work at angles of up to 45-degrees, meaning that trekking on angled terrains won’t cause any issues. Wading depth is 500mm and towing is taken care of by a class leading 3.5-tonne towing capacity.
Although some may refer to the styling as dated, there’s no arguing the fact that the new Defender is just as capable as it always has been – if not more. Having trekked some seriously rough terrain in the Defender, I’m yet to imagine a place it couldn’t tackle.
The Defender isn’t for everyone, but with over 1.6 million sales worldwide since its inception, there is certainly a group of people who can’t get enough of these things. Witnessing the Land Rover Defender’s off-road ability has given me a new appreciation for the Landie and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to an adventurer at heart, as it’s an off-roaders weapon of choice.