At long last, after plenty of teasing and years of testing, the new Land Rover Defender is upon is.
It’s a reincarnation of the rugged workhorse that has graced the driveways of many an outdoor enthusiast.
Now, the Defender is being updated for the 21st century.
It still retains a rugged air but now has a friendlier, more rounded and modern mien with LED lamps front and rear.
The new Land Rover Defender will come in the longer Defender 110 and shorter Defender 90 versions, the latter of which will arrive later.
What’s new with the new Defender?
The new Defender retains the same hulking silhouette like the old Landie but is an iPhone to the 3310 of yesteryear.
It doesn’t share any body panels with Land Rover’s current range and is so unique that it gets its own manufacturing plant in Nitra, Slovakia.
A choice of 18-, 19-, 20- and 22-inch wheels are available, ranging from utilitarian 18-inch Gloss White steel rims to 22-inch Gloss Black five-spoke alloy designs.
With the new Defender, Land Rover has made sure it retained its predecessor’s off-road prowess.
That means designing the new Defender to tow, wade and haul with aplomb.
And boy, does it do all that.
A whole new Defender platform
Land Rover had to make sure the new Defender could handle loads and conform to modern crash regulations and so, developed the new D7x platform.
Atop that is an all-aluminium monocoque construction with a torsional rigidity of 30kNm/degree – which makes it three times more rigid than a body-on-frame design.
The Defender has the “stiffest Land Rover body ever created”, the company claims.
The roof can take a maximum load of 168kg with a maximum static roof load of 300kg, should you wish to set up camp using the roof as part of your mobile home.
The foundations also meant Land Rover could fit all-independent suspension, a twin-speed transfer box and permanent all-wheel drive to the new Defender.
A new Terrain Response 2 system debuts in new Defender.
It includes a new “Wade” programme that automatically softens the throttle response, sets the heating and ventilation to recirculate cabin air, locks the driveline and adjusts the ride height to its off-road setting.
In the original Defender, you could lock the central differential manually using the high-to-low range gear selector.
In the new one, drivers can prevent cross-axle slip using the Centre Slip Limited and Centre and Rear Slip Limited options on the central touchscreen controller.
There are also three settings for the throttle and gearbox response, steering and traction control, allowing you to set your Landie up just right and save them into four individual profiles.
Modernising the Land Rover Defender
With the new Defender’s double wishbone front suspension and integral link rear suspension, handling should be vastly improved from the old one.
You get either passive or – anathema to the ears of off-road enthusiasts everywhere – Electronic Air Suspension.
But spec the latter and you get Adaptive Dynamics so you can fine-tune the Defender’s driving characteristics.
Land Rover says the adaptive dampers monitor body movements “up to 500 times per second” and respond “almost instantaneously” to optimise control and comfort.
In keeping with the modern accoutrements, the new Defender also gets Land Rover’s ClearSight technology fitted.
ClearSight Rear View Mirror provides enhanced rear vision while ClearSight Ground View invisible bonnet technology shows the hidden area directly ahead of the front wheels, making for fewer bumps and scrapes off road.
Mega-testing the new Landie
To make sure the new Defender lives up to a name that has been seen on mud trails and battlefields alike, Land Rover has had to extensively test it.
During global development programme, Land Rover says its engineers tested the Defender on trails in Moab, USA, for the first time, including Hell’s Revenge, the Poison Spider and the Steel Bender Trails.
As part of its testing, Land Rover says the Defender can withstand repeated 200mm kerb strikes at 40km/h.
There’s a lot riding on the tough, chiselled shoulders of the new Defender.
“The old Defender was fun to drive, but flawed,” said Jaguar Land Rover’s chief engineer of vehicle integrity Mike Cross, while adding that the new Defender is “fun, but without the flaws”.
Just like the old Landie, only time can tell.
The new Defender in Singapore
Presently, not much is known about local pricing for the new Defender.
According to Land Rover Singapore’s website, we’ll get the 90 and 110 and the First Edition versions of both.
Engine choices include a 2-litre diesel in two different states of tune (197hp and 237hp), a 2-litre petrol with 296hp (dubbed P300) and a range-topping 3-litre petrol mild-hybrid (MHEV) with 394hp (dubbed P400).
All engine choices appear to be available across both 90 and 110 body styles, with the X variants only available with the P400 MHEV variant.
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