Return of the iconic Defender 10 | 09 | 2019

    IT’S THE RETURN of an icon, Jim; but not as you know it. After years of development, rumour, whispers and leaked images, this is the all-new Land Rover Defender. The original, which was in production for 70 years, stopped in 2016. Since then Land Rover has worked tirelessly to create a modern replacement; and now it’s here. And prices start around £40,000. (Related: 2019 Discovery Sport gets plug-in hybrid)

    At the core of the development was a plan to not only to improve the Defender’s legendary off-road ability, but make it a true car for the 2020s. That meant dramatically improving refinement and packaging, and ensuring it maximised everyday usability.

    Built on a new aluminium-intensive platform named D7x, Land Rover says the chassis is 95% new. It also states the monocoque construction is the stiffest body structure it has ever produced.

    Externally, it’s clear designers have strived to maintain the Defender’s iconic side profile. Look closely, and you’ll also spot the familiar ‘Alpine’ window. And, of course, the spare wheel is mounted on the side-hinged tailgate.


    As you would expect, both five-door  long-wheelbase and three-door short-wheelbase models will be available. From launch buyers can choose from the long-wheelbase 110, with a the option of five, six or seven seats. The short-wheelbase 90 joins the range before the end of the year. These will both be further supplemented next year by two commercial editions. (Related: Range Rover unleashes 542bhp Velar)

    Prices for the new Defender start from £45,240 for a 110 with the D200 diesel, but rise to an eye-watering £78,800 for the P400 X 110. We’re still waiting for Land Rover to confirm full pricing for the smaller 90, but it’s expected to start around £40,000. Commercial editions of the Defender, due in next year, will cost from around £35,000 plus VAT.

    The new model is also longer than the original, which allows for a longer wheelbase, which in turn delivers better interior packaging. Significantly, the new model also has better ground clearance.


    It’s rather stating the obvious, but all Defenders will have four-wheel drive as standard. And while the 90 gets a coil set-up, the 110 benefits from air suspension as standard. The latter will be available as an option on the 90, and be included as standard as part of the range-topping 90 models.

    An eight-speed automatic gearbox, equipped with a twin-speed transfer box that offers low-range ratios for towing and extreme off-roading, is also fitted as standard across the entire Defender range. And by placing the gear shifter on the dashboard, designers have been able to integrate an optional central third front seat. Unique in its class, it means the 90 can carry six people in just two rows. When it’s not in use as a seat, it can easily be folded over to become an armrest, with cupholders and additional storage space. (Related: All-new Range Rover Evoque)



    The interior is a mix of the original Defender’s durability and modern technology. While rubber floor mats ensure the day’s mud can simply be washed out, the new Defender debuts Jaguar Land Rover’s latest infotainment system, Pivi Pro, which the company says is more intuitive and user-friendly, requiring fewer inputs to perform frequently used tasks. This display also incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

    With a 10-inch screen, smartphone app integration and a more responsive touchscreen, it’s supplemented by a standard 12.3-inch digital instrument panel across the range. All Defenders will feature over-the-air upgrades.


    The new Defender takes Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) technology to a new level, with 14 individual modules capable of receiving remote updates. By downloading data while customers are asleep at home or in far-flung locations, the new Defender will get better with age: as electronic updates cascade down to the vehicle immediately, without delay and with no need to visit a Land Rover retailer.

    The new Defender will also be available with the second generation of Land Rover’s ‘activity key’. This wrist device allows owners to leave the main key in the vehicle when they’re “being Action Man or Woman”, and risk damaging, or even losing the main key.


    The Defender 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations, with a loadspace behind the second-row seats of up to 1075 litres, and as much as 2380-litres when the second row is folded. The 90 will be able to accommodate six occupants in a vehicle the length of a compact family hatchback.

    It’s also worth highlighting the interior is dominated by an exposed magnesium cross beam. Not only is it a good-looking design feature, but functionally it helps the rigidity of the body structure. Cleverly, it also incorporates grab handles to help those climbing aboard.



    At launch, the petrol line-up comprises a four-cylinder P300 and a powerful six-cylinder P400 featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology. The 296bhp P300 Defender will cover 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds, and emit 227g/km of CO2.

    The 395bhp P400 mixes a straight-six turbocharged and supercharged petrol motor, with a belt-integrated starter motor and a 48-volt lithium-ion battery. Not surprisingly, this is the fastest model in the Defender range, hitting 62mph from standstill in 6.4s. Fuel consumption is 29.4mpg — good luck achieving that — and it’ll emit 220g/km of CO2.


    Alternatively, customers can choose from a pair of four-cylinder diesels – the D200 and powerful D240 – both of which deliver fuel economy of 37.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 199g/km (NEDC equivalent).

    A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) powertrain will join the range next year providing the prospect of silent EV-only progress.



    Configurable Terrain Response debuts on new Defender, allowing experienced off-roaders to fine-tune individual vehicle settings to perfectly suit the conditions, while inexperienced drivers can let the system detect the most appropriate vehicle settings for the terrain, using the intelligent Auto function.

    The new body architecture provides ground clearance of 291mm and world-class off-road geometry, giving the 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees (Off Road height) respectively. Its maximum wading depth of 900mm is supported by a new Wade programme in the Terrain Response 2 system, which ensures drivers can ford deep water with complete confidence.


    On dry land, Land Rover’s advanced ClearSight Ground View technology helps drivers take full advantage of Defender’s all-conquering capability by showing the area usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen.

    As a result, the new Defender redefines breadth of capability, raising the threshold for both off-road ruggedness and on-road comfort. It can negotiate crowded city streets as effortlessly as climbing mountains, crossing deserts and withstanding freezing temperatures. Its carefully honed handling delivers both a rewarding drive and first-class long-haul comfort across all terrains.



    The new Defender is available in S, SE, HSE, First Edition, trim levels, plus the top of the range Defender X. Customers will be able to personalise their vehicle in more ways than any previous Land Rover with four Accessory Packs. The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs each give Defender a distinct character with a specially selected range of enhancements.  The exclusive First Edition model features a unique specification and will be available throughout the first model year of production.

    The Adventure pack includes a side-mounted gear carrier, an integrated air compressor, mud flaps, a portable rinse system with a pressurised water reservoir, and a backpack built into a rear seat.

    Country adds wheelarch protection and a full-height loadspace partition, but omits the spare wheel cover and the backpack.


    Explorer introduces Land Rover’s iconic raised air intake, a 26kg roof rack, the same gear carrier as ‘Adventure’, wheelarch protection and a spare wheel cover, plus a matte black bonnet decal.

    Urban includes bright-metal pedals, a spare wheel cover, a front undershield and a bright rear scuff plate. It also introduces a range of alloy wheel upgrades, including a 22-inch five-spoke design. Standard alloy on the S spec is 19in, increasing to 20in on the SE and HSE.

    Customers will even be able to opt for a new Satin Protective Film to make the exterior paintwork even more durable. The sustainable, solvent-free and completely recyclable wrap helps protect against everything from car park scratches to bramble rash and will be available as a factory-fit option with Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone and Pangea Green colours, providing a unique contemporary finish as it protects new Defender’s paintwork.


    In addition to the Accessory Packs, new Defender is available with the widest choice of individual accessories ever assembled for a new Land Rover, with everything from a Remote Control Electric Winchº, Rooftop Tent and Inflatable Waterproof Awnings to more conventional tow bar systems and roof racks.

    The comprehensive choice of options means buyers can chose from around 170 accessories. The new Defender is also available with the choice of seven body colours. In all there are 12 wheel designs, ranging from 18-inch pressed steel items up to 22-inch alloys.


    Related: New Jaguar Land Rover centre opens in Scotland

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    Jim McGill

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