The Land Rover Defender L663 is a long-overdue addition to the Land Rover family – it’s hugely important for the company’s long-term plans, and was finally revealed at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show.
Land Rover Defender detailed
The world’s moved on since the original Land Rover was launched in 1948, and the new Defender is bristling with on-board technology to reflect that. Like its predecessor, its hardcore buyers demand that it’s peerless off-road, but customers also expect refinement, performance and efficiency when on the asphalt. What we’ve seen, it’s up to the task. The new Slovakian-built Defender comes in two guises: the long-wheelbase 110 followed by the shorter 90 which buyers can place orders for in a few weeks’ time. A commercial version will go on sale during 2020.
Land Rover has chosen not to trek along the same path Mercedes did with its latest G-Wagen, a model that was also new at launch, but which slavishly followed the styling template laid down by the late-1970s G-Wagen. Instead the new Defender is a modern off-roader that pays homage to the original in some of the detailing, such as its upright silhouette, the strong shoulder line and the side-hinged tailgate-mounted spare wheel.
Inside, the new Defender is utterly contemporary with LCD screens for the instrumentation, updated infotainment dubbed Pivi Pro, access to a suite of electronic wizardry to make driving on- and off-road even more of a cinch, yet you can still hose the cabin down if it’s clarted with mud after a day of cross-country adventuring. Depending upon the colour paint you choose, you can even have a factory fitted protective film applied to the bodywork to ensure it’s better able to stand-up to country life.
Space inside for five, six or seven
With the spare wheel attached to the back door, the Defender 110 is lengthy at 5018mm, but there’s space inside for up to seven people, although the rearmost two will be kids. As standard the 110’s a five-seater, but an optional front centre seat for occasional use is a carry-over feature from the old Defender. When it’s not required it can be folded away for additional storage.
The Defender 90 measures in at 4583mm – with the spare wheel included – so it’s barely any longer than most compact family hatchbacks. Like the 110, the 90’s a five-seater as standard, with the option of the front jump seat to turn it into a six-seater. Defender customers frequently need a lot of space, and here the newcomer is generous – the 90’s boot space ranges from 397 litres to 1563 litres with the rear bench folded. Opt for the 110 and you’ve got 646 litres to 2380 litres in five- or six- seat mode, and 231-2,233 litres when the optional third-row seats are fitted.
New mild-hybrid option
From launch, the Defender’s four engine options – two each of petrol and diesel – all feature a mild-hybrid system for efficiency and performance. Other than confirmation it’s coming, there are no official details yet on the Defender plug-in hybrid set to go on sale during 2020, but expect a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine supporting the electric drive system that debuts in the Range Rover Evoque.
Diesels are expected to be the most popular following launch. Both are 2.0-litre four-cylinder motors producing 197bhp in the D200 and 236bhp in the D240. The P300 has a 296bhp petrol motor the same configuration as the diesels, while the punchier P400 features a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol, with 394bhp
Claimed performance and efficiency figures are as follows:
- D200 – 109mph top speed, 0-62mph 10.2 seconds, 37.7mpg, 199g/km CO2
- D240 – 117mph top speed, 0-62mph 9.0 seconds, 37.7mpg, 199g/km CO2
- P300 – 119mph top speed, 0-62mph 8.0 seconds, 28.5-28.8mpg, 224-227g/km CO2
- P400 – 119-129mph top speed, 0-62mph 6.3 seconds, 29.4mpg, 219g/km CO2
- D200 – 109mph top speed, 0-62mph 10.3 seconds, 37.2mpg, 199g/km CO2
- D240 – 117mph top speed, 0-62mph 9.1 seconds, 37.2mpg, 199g/km CO2
- P300 – 119mph top speed, 0-62mph 8.1 seconds, 28.5mpg, 227-228g/km CO2
- P400 – 119-129mph top speed, 0-62mph 6.4 seconds, 29.4mpg, 220g/km CO2
Off-road prowess assured
Based upon the new D7x platform, the new Defender is set to be the company’s most capable off-road vehicle. It rides 20mm higher than other Land Rovers and combined with moving the battery and other ancillary components to higher locations, as well as mounting the spare wheel on the body rather than under the car, it promises to be very agile off-road, able to traverse sharp inclines with ease.
Coil springs are standard for the fully independent suspension, but an adaptive air sprung system is optionally available, making the on- and off-road experience even more sophisticated. Suspension travel of up to 500mm ensures the Defender can maintain four wheels on the ground in all but the most extreme circumstances. Not only can the air springs elevate the Defender by 70mm over tricky terrain, they can lower it by 50mm to make passenger entry and exit less of a climbing exercise.
Drivers can vary the slip levels of the differentials using the Pivi Pro touchscreen system, affording a much greater degree of precision to maintain traction in the trickiest of conditions. Of course, the Defender can also be left to its own devices leaving the Terrain Response 2 system in automatic mode, where it determines what kind of surface is being driven on and varies the throttle response and traction control accordingly.
Other familiar features such as All-Terrain Progress Control – effectively a slow-speed off-road cruise control and ClearSight Ground View to render the an on-screen image of what’s going on underneath the car are combined with the new Defender’s ability to wade through up to 900mm of water.
So far prices have only been confirmed for the Defender 110 which starts at £45,240 for the most basic version before the extensive range of 170 extra-cost options is plundered – deliveries begin in early 2020. Expect the shorter 90 to begin at around £40,000, with the Defender Commercial kicking-off from £35,000 plus VAT.
There are five trim levels on offer in the regular range, with increasing levels of equipment and visual differentiation starting at the base Defender, progressing through S, SE and HSE before reaching the range-topping X. Additionally, for the initial 12-month production run, there’ll be a gussied-up First Edition as well.
Land Rover claims its new Pivi Pro infotainment system is both more intuitive and easier to use than the sometimes frustrating kit featured in recent JLR models. Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch configurable set of electronic instruments can be combined with an updated head-up display system, while aids such as self-parking, adaptive cruise control and ClearSight Rear View – which turns the rear-view mirror into a display screen to provide an unfettered representation of what’s behind the car – make it even easier to live with.
Complementing those trims are four option bundles, combining a range of extras that Land Rover believes customers would benefit from specifying together. These comprise of:
- Explorer Pack – a raised air intake, a lightweight expedition roof rack, bodyside-mounted gear equipment lockers, mud flaps, wheelarch protectors and a matte black bonnet finish
- Adventure Pack – a 6.5-litre pressurised rinse system to wash-down muddy kit, a boot-mounted air compressor and those side-mounted gear carriers are combined with a rear scuff plate and a 20-litre wearable backpack that fits to the back of a seat
- Country Pack – the rinse system, mud flaps and wheelarch protection are paired with a full-height boot partition to keep dirty equipment away from the passenger compartment
- Urban Pack – designed to cut a dash in the city with bright interior and exterior detailing and alloy wheels up to 22 inches in diameter.