Land Rover Defender Launch - First Steer
- by Paul Maric
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.