Iconic Land Rover returns

23 September 2019

LAND Rover has announced the return of one of Britain’s most iconic vehicles, as driven so enthusiastically by Her Majesty the Queen on her Balmoral estate.

A long-standing favourite of the county set, the return of the Defender is the realisation of one of the longest design tasks ever undertaken by Land Rover.

Instead of being ready to take over in a seamless transition from its predecessor, the old Defender died in 2016 and it has taken a further three years for its successor to be perfected.

With a market awash with large SUVs, some of which are pretty capable off road, Land Rover has gone the extra mile to ensure that its offering retains its title of King of the 4x4s.

The company says it is even more capable in the really rough stuff, whilst being much more civilised on tarmac, thanks to a new all-aluminium body.

The newcomer will be offered initially as a long wheelbase model, to carry on the Defender 110 nomenclature in a five-door body format with the usual choice of five, six or seven seat layouts.

A shorter Defender 90 will follow towards the end of this year and it is expected that commercial versions of both will be added, probably next year.

Land Rover designers say that the vehicle can also be stretched to create an even longer eight-seat Defender 130 model, although there is no introduction date for this yet.

Even in mid-range Defender 110 guise the vehicle is bigger than its predecessor with improved interior space and overall packing, whilst continuing to offer a 4x4 driving format.

The improved packaging means that in the case of vehicles with up to six seats there is a luggage capacity of up to 2,300 litres, which falls to a maximum of 2,223 litres for seven-seat versions.

Cleverly, the transmission shifter is not between the front seats but rather on the dashboard, which enables a three-abreast seat layout to be created in the front, generating half a dozen seats in just two rows.

The front middle seat can also be folded flat to create an unusually wide centre arm rest.

In true rugged tradition the Defender 90 variants will be fitted with coil suspension as standard or air suspension as an option, which is standard on Defender 110.

Each model is equipped with an eight-speed auto transmission plus transfer box for ultimate low speed pulling ability.

Engines will include a conventional petrol and petrol-hyrbid plus a pair of diesels initially, although in due course these will be systematically added to.

The four cylinder turbocharged two-litre petrol engine generates 295bhp, with a CO2 rating of 227g/km and acceleration to 60mph in eight seconds.

Also on offer is a six-cylinder supercharged petrol engine generating 395bhp of power plus a 48-volt lithium-ion battery.

This model claims economy nudging 30mph, with a CO2 rating of 220g/km and a rather quick 0-60mph acceleration time of under six and a half seconds.

The oil-burners are both four-cylinder engines with outputs of 197bhp and 237bhp, which translates into acceleration times of as little as nine and a half seconds, plus CO2 ratings of 199g/km each.

Economy improves by about a third over that of the petrol unit.

A far cry from the utilitarian early Defenders, the latest versions boast the very latest in high-tech communications systems, safety aids and off-road abilities.

For example, the vehicle has a wading depth of 90 centimetres, which is almost twice that of previous models, with approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees, making it spectacularly capable over really rough boulder-laden terrain.

In an attempt to widen its appeal to townies too, there are 170 accessories, satin wrap paint finishes and a dozen different wheel designs.

Prices range from £45,240 for the entry-level Defender 110 all the way up to a whopping £78,800 for the flagship version, with the cost of the shorter Defender 90 models yet to be announced.