Land Rover has added cutting-edge tech to the new Defender, given it fresh styling, a new platform and it is every bit as awe inspiring as the old one!
The Land Rover Defender has been a long time coming. Bookings opened up in late-Feb and deliveries were to begin in August. Of course, that was before the pandemic hit, but now we finally have the Defender in India and first customer deliveries should begin very soon. Land Rover is bringing the Defender in five variants and in both three-door (90) and five-door (110) body styles. There are a range of colours to choose from for the exterior, customisable interiors, as well as a total of four lifestyle packs that can be specced by customers when configuring their Defender.
If first impressions sold a car, I’d have booked the Defender the second I laid my eyes on it. It disguises its mass well in pictures, but walk up to it and it gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Measuring in at 5018mm in length, 2105mm in width and 1967mm tall, it is huge. Let’s get into the styling bit first. At the front are LED headlamps, with square surrounds housing circle elements. The circle elements hark back to the original Defender’s headlights — a first of many such #throwbacks neatly integrated around the car. There’s also vertical slats at the front, giving the impression of width and skid plates. Around the side the huge 20-inch rims on this First Edition model fill up the arches rather well, until you raise the air suspension all the way up. From the side is where the new Defender’s proportions come to life. There’s not a swooping line here, no coupe-like roof. It’s boxy, with short overhangs, and a slab-like side profile. It is an SUV in the conventional sense of the word, and in this day and age of every hatchback on stilts calling itself an SUV, this blue-blooded off-roader looks oh-so-cool. Round the back are very quirky looking squircle shaped taillights, with two smaller squircle lights on the side. These also hark back to original, as do the haunches that extend outward from the taillights. Back here is also a tailgate-mounted spare wheel. Overall, the new Defender looks thoroughly modern, fresh and yet instantly recognisable as a homage to the classic.
If you thought the exterior of the new Defender is a step away from the original, the interior is on a whole different planet. The Defender’s interior is a big departure from other current Land Rovers too — there’s no plush leather all around, coating every surface, or piano black buttons. Everything is rubberised, tactile and feels like it has been built to last. The interiors are not fully washable like on the Jeep Wrangler, but you can easily clean it out without worrying too much about wear and tear. Other cool touches on the interior include the exposed rivets, the ‘alpine lights’ which have been inspired by the original Defender and they just look so damn cool. There’s also a magnesium alloy crossbeam running across the dash, which is a structural part of the car and it is left exposed – another neat touch. Now, up front the area between the two passengers can be customised one of three ways. The first one is the walkthrough configuration, which leaves the area empty (since the climate controls and gear lever are mounted high up) to make it easier to access the second row. The second one is the jump seat, which adds a third seat in the middle, and it can fold down to double up as an armrest. The third layout is the most conventional one, with an armrest fixed in place and storage area down the middle. In terms of space, there’s certainly no shortage of it, no matter where you’re sat in the 110 variant. The first row can easily house the tallest among you, as can the second row. There are also two jump seats at the rear which are manageable for shorter adults on shorter journeys, and great for kids. The third row also gets its own AC vents, which is a great addition. Now this new Defender gets one major thing which the old Defender didn’t — technology and it gets lots of it.
The tech package is the new Pivi Pro operating system, running on the 10-inch central infotainment screen as well as the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Pivi Pro doesn’t bring a host of new functionality, but rather makes everything much easier to use and access. Most common functions have been taken out of long menus, and put right onto the main screen. The central display is crisp, is fairly large and has next to no lag. One thing I absolutely can not miss out here is the number of USB ports! There’s literally too many to count, even passengers in the second row get four USB ports, and two 12-volt sockets. If you’ve got an iPhone, the new Defender is all the charger you’ll ever need.
Being a true-blue off-roader, the Defender comes packed with plenty of off-road technology. It gets the Terrain Response 2 system which has modes for every conceivable scenario — mud, snow, rock crawling, grass, sand and it now gets a mode specially for wading. Click on ‘Wade Sensing’ and it throws up an image of the Defender, with a line signifying the wading depth (its capable of going through 900m!) and when you go into some water, it shows you how deep you’ve gone in! It also gets hill descent control and ATPC, which is essentially a low-speed cruise control for off-road driving. It allows the Defender to crawl gradually (speed is set by the driver), leaving you to control just the steering. The air suspension allows you to raise the ground clearance of the SUV by a whole 145mm to tackle harsh terrain.
Powertrain and Chassis
The new Defender only comes with one engine option currently — a two-litre turbo-petrol producing 296bhp and 400Nm of torque, mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via a two-speed transfer box if needed. There are also locking differentials in the centre and on the rear axle that can be manually locked when the going gets tough. Underpinning the new Defender is the D7x platform. The ‘x’ stands for extreme, and Land Rover has gone to extreme lengths to ensure that this platform can handle the massive pothole outside your house and be right at home when rock crawling in the Andes. It actually enables this new Defender to have the ‘stiffest body Land Rover has ever created’.
Pricing and Variants
Land Rover is bringing the Defender in both body styles, and all variants ranging from ‘Standard’ to the limited-run ‘First Edition’, with three other variants in between. Revised pricing for the Defender range starts at Rs 73.98 lakh for the three-door version, and 79.94 lakh for five-door variant. The most obvious competitor for the Defender is the Jeep Wrangler — another iconic SUV, reimagined for the 21st century. The Defender does appear to offer a lot more creature comforts as compared to the Wrangler. However, the Defender will also cost a lot more in reality since the Wrangler comes in one single fully-loaded variant which costs Rs 68.94 lakh (ex-showroom), while a well specced Defender would go knocking on the Rs 1 crore door, which puts it into the territory of the Mercedes-Benz G350d. Either way, if you’re looking to go off-roading in luxury (and style), you’ve just got one more company you can write that cheque to.