Land Rover was expected at the turn for the renewal of its iconic 4×4, with specifications that promised to be demanding. Successful bet?
Renew a mythical model. Very complicated task but how stimulating for a car manufacturer, especially when the model in question is one of the best-selling off-road machines in the world. And that the design of the previous generation had changed very little since its birth, which dates back to 1948!
Preserve Defender DNA
Perfect crosser, able to take you absolutely everywhere on any type of slope and to cross any obstacle, indestructible … the original Defender, evolution of the ancient Land Rover, had to adapt to its time and no longer s ‘impose like an uncomfortable machine to drive on asphalt roads. The new version had to be a totally different product, while retaining the essential. Provide all the guarantees of safety and compliance with current standards, offer finally acceptable comfort, while remaining the unbeatable franchisor that he is.
You have to realize that from the previous generation to this one, the Defender is the only 4×4 whose structure we had to ‘derigidify’. It had finally become too solid and too robust, and ultimately prove to be dangerous in current traffic conditions! ”, We say internally.
In any case, Land Rover has tackled these specifications, with an additional difficulty: avoiding duplication with a rapidly expanding model portfolio, with the various Range Rovers, the Velar or even the Discovery.
We really like … the backpacker look of the future
First good point, this new generation Defender 110 does not fall into the trap of easy Neo-Retro fashion, as we have seen from other manufacturers who are updating their iconic models. This is not to ape the old Defender, but to truly embody a rupture and a futuristic machine.
Bet won, the look both innovative and extremely raw, without frills, gives an impression of very great robustness. The dimensions are impressive, almost 2 meters high for 2 meters wide, and 4.76 meters long (5 meters including the rear spare wheel)! The machine imposes some, for real.
The interior is in tune, futuristic but also raw. Robust plastics alternating very light gray and black (in Stormtrooper skin, for Star Wars fans…), soft fabric seats, interior structure giving pride of place to bare sheet metal, with visible rivets… the cockpit is a real manifesto the identity of the Defender. Solid, futuristic and no frills. And despite the extraordinary size of the vehicle, visibility is excellent with very large glass surfaces. The interior light is all the more pleasant with the large glass roof and the small rear roof loopholes, a tribute to the ancient Defender.
In the midst of the current automotive landscape, the Defender is therefore a UFO. But a UFO that imposes it, even on the open road! The impressive size of the machine makes you fly over the entire surrounding vehicle fleet.
With seats one meter above the ground, you’ll dominate just about anything that drives, including all of the biggest SUVs around! Funny to see that when seeing the Defender arrive, most motorists tend to stop and let you pass no matter what: every street becomes almost one-way, yours!
A real SUV!
At the wheel, the first few minutes are quite confusing, as we are forced to take into account the exceptional size of the Defender. But quickly, we are almost surprised by the ease of maneuvering: this machine weighing nearly 2.5 tons drives like a bicycle! And the proximity alerts, as well as several very precise cameras (including a very clever visual, hidden in the central rear-view mirror, see the photo below), you avoid the slightest collision on the sidewalk … or the car of your neighbors!
Above all, the Defender takes you back to the roots of the very concept of an SUV: the acronym is reminiscent of “Sport Utility Vehicle”. A machine made for off-piste, but also packed with interior space and practical aspects, including a giant 500-liter trunk with horizontal opening, where children will love to camp. And of an irreproachable robustness. It will relegate any other SUV (or so-called) to the status of pleasant raised station wagon.
The lack of time and the atmospheric (and sanitary) conditions being what they were at the start of 2021, it is impossible to fully verify the Defender’s off-road skills on a real testing ground.
Apart from a few excursions on muddy undergrowth path, which unsurprisingly posed no traction problems, the permanent all-wheel drive is flawless. Lined with an automatic assistance system, the Defender can theoretically climb hills of 38%, descend slopes of 40%, and cross fords 70 cm high without any loss of traction. Extraordinary abilities that our essay cannot question.
On the open road, the new Defender perfectly fulfills the new part of its specifications: being comfortable. Very pleasant to drive, even in a fairly dynamic manner with a 6-cylinder turbo gasoline engine with light hybridization, the Defender is powerful (395 horsepower), full of torque, an essential point for a 4×4 (550 nm from 2000 rpm), and nervous (0 to 100 km / h in 6.1 seconds), remarkable performance once again for a machine of 2.5 tonnes!
Mounted on large 20-inch wheels, the Defender has a very pleasant air suspension, which will allow you to absorb the passage of a large retarder as if you were crushing a paper ball. Impressive!
We like less: pay attention to the template!
If the Defender therefore fulfills its ambitious specifications perfectly, be careful not to be presumptuous behind the wheel. The machine (we repeat) is heavy. Parameter to be taken into account before launching it in a fast driving phase. It will be necessary to anticipate the braking (the pedal has a rather spongy feel), the discs are not those of a Porsche Cayenne or a Lamborghini Urus (which is not a fault, in view of the primary function Defender).
Be careful not to lead it too quickly in a turn: if the all-wheel drive and electronic assistance will prevent you from any risk of overturning or skidding, the comfort-calibrated suspension will not be adapted to too fast curves and the roll can be revealed. important.
The excellent 9-speed automatic gearbox can turn out to be a bit abrupt, especially when the automatic stop / start mode is activated. The starts, not really smooth, require a little caution.
The height of the machine is also to be taken into account: most car parks (public and private) will prove to be problematic! For many limited in height to 1.9m, the Defender simply will not be able to park there. The suspension adjustment knob (3 positions, high off-road, medium for the road and low for easier parking) will only save you a few centimeters in height. During the test, the Defender will only have parked in parking lots reserved for large utility vehicles. Indispensable precaution not to scratch the roof or to inadvertently transform your Defender into a convertible …
At what price? Consumption from another world (and therefore mega-malus)
Finally, fuel consumption and emissions rates are at odds with current automotive standards. Despite the 48v hybridization, with 220g of C02 / Km, 9.6 liters of SP98 per 100 kilometers (with an urban consumption which soars beyond 15 liters per 100km), the Defender 110 P400 is also promised to the mega-malus of 30,000 euros, or 5,000 euros near the price of a basic Range Rover Evoque….
At 91,830 euros for this fully equipped First Edition model (excluding penalties), don’t expect to see the Defender in all the streets these next few months. The device, historically more prized by large agricultural fortunes, firefighters, rescue services, armies and paramilitary forces around the world, should not overload urban parking lots. It will remain a rarity, reserved for a wealthy clientele, who will fully assume to have in their hands without doubt the best all-weather franchiser, reincarnated in a giant SUV, comfortable, pleasant and easy to drive on a daily basis.