The new Land Rover Defender – Is it capable of great things?
Published on August 5th, 2020 | by Rhian Hawkings
When the new Land Rover Defender arrived at our HQ, there was only one person to be assigned to the job of test driving it.
Our Finance Manager, Andrew Wright took the vehicle home for a weekend test drive and here, Andrew tells us all about his experience…
The Defender has always been a workhorse capable of trotting through all terrains in all weather conditions. Historically it lacked the refinement of the rest of the Land Rover/Range Rover range but this was overlooked by owners as who needs refinement when you’re sloshing through water and mud testing the vehicle’s off road capabilities? Looks wise the Defender had the appearance of a rough and rugged vehicle ready to take on any terrain.
The new and updated model of the Defender arrived on our roads in the Spring of 2020. It started with the 110 (5 door) with the 90 (3 door) due later in the year. The cheapest model is a smidge over £40k but with optional extras and the choice of four packs, you can easily find yourself spending over £65k.
The exterior of the vehicle has been brought up to date. The rough and rugged look has been replaced with smooth lines and hidden door hinges. The traditional circular lights on the rear of the vehicle have gone and square lights with curved corners have replaced them. Land Rover have kept the spare wheel on the boot so as not to detract from boot space but also for when a puncture stops the fun, the offending wheel can be changed and the journey can continue without the limitations of a space saver spare wheel or puncture repair foam kit.
Stepping inside the vehicle and you quickly find yourself a world away from the interior of the original Defender. The two words that immediately sprang to my mind where luxury and technology. The seats are extremely comfortable and some of the trim is soft touch plastics but sadly low quality plastics can be found. There is an element of ruggedness in that some of the trim has screws on show (no this is not just typical poor Land Rover build quality) and the steering wheel looks like it is ready to guide the car through any terrain.
The model I drove was the 110 First Edition which costs £59k plus over £10k of added extras. The vehicle was silver which looked very commercial but this might just be me not being a fan of silver cars. Inside the vehicle had a lot of technology. The rear view mirror was actually a screen showing video footage of what was going on behind. Initially I found it very distracting but the more I drove the car I began to get used to it. The infotainment system was very intuitive and the screen very clear. The Meridian sound system is a great addition although my neighbours might not agree.
The car feels very big to drive. Even the Range Rover Vogue looks small when passing on the road. The drive is very smooth and the vehicle feels connected to the road. I took it onto a field and the uneven ground was no match for the suspension. The automatic gearbox did drop a gear at times when I did not want it too but this may have been down to user error as I am used to driving a manual. I was averaging 24mpg driving on country roads but you don’t buy a big vehicle like the Defender for its economy.
Overall the new Defender is a modern take on a classic, taking something rugged and making it pretty. The price of the vehicle put me off taking it properly off road. The build quality is questionable in places and not sure if this can be attributed to the vehicle being a demonstration vehicle.
To my mind another vehicle deemed the rough and ready off-roader is the Jeep Wrangler. I had the pleasure of driving one last year. This was £30k cheaper and lower in rental and looked ready for business and would be my choice over the new Defender.
Looking forward to test driving the next demo vehicle!