The legendary Land Rover Defender is back on the automotive scene. And unlike the older generation, we are finally entitled to it in Canada!
If you do not know the Defender, know that it represents neither more nor less the soul of the British brand. In fact, there would be no Land Rover today without the Defender.
Once known for its exceptional off-road capability, but also for its rudimentary comfort, the Defender then was unlike the Land Rovers of today. This is still true with this new generation … but a little less!
A bad boy civilized
At first glance, you immediately understand that the Defender does not quite share the same DNA as the other products of the brand. Forget the rounded shapes of the Range Rover Velar or Discovery. Instead, the Defender takes on angular shapes, albeit much softer than the period model.
Instead of the good old ladder frame of the old Defender, Land Rover chose a unibody construction that is said to triple its torsional stiffness. Despite this radical change in design approach, the modern Defender still pays homage to its past with a few nods, such as those oval bay windows integrated into the roof. As at the time, the vehicle returns under the names 90 (two doors) and 110 (four doors).
On board, once again, the presentation is distinctly different from that of the brand's other models. Here, we are entitled to a much less refined interior, with a lot of plastics and rubber floor coverings. Somewhere between a Jeep Wrangler and a Mercedes-Benz G-Class. We understand that we are dealing with a model whose primary vocation is not for the city, but for muddy trails.
The dashboard is loaded with fairly large, easy-to-access physical buttons, which again swears with other Land Rovers that rely on touch. However, technology is not overlooked. The 10-inch touchscreen incorporates the latest generation of Land Rover's infotainment system, which will eventually be found in the brand's other products. The display quality is particularly impressive, especially when the many cameras are involved. It is possible to observe almost any angle of the vehicle via a 3D reconstruction displayed on the screen. Once there, you have to do it on purpose to damage it!
The Defender in town
Without a doubt, the Defender has off-road skills that are second to none of the Defenders of yore. In addition to an electronic active differential, technologies like an adaptive air suspension and cameras designed for extreme driving make it a great ally for big adventures. You can even circulate in water at a depth of up to 0.9 meters! But let's face it, the vast majority of homeowners will probably never leave the paved roads.
With this in mind, our Defender test was carried out in the streets of Montreal, leaving from the dealership Les Moteurs Décarie, who let us get behind the wheel of one of the first models to arrive in Quebec.
The Defender we tested was a 110 P400 model, fitted with the optional 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. A model that, despite the Defender 110's starting price of $ 65,300, had a bill of over $ 90,000. At Land Rover, you might as well think twice before selecting the options!
That said, this Defender was not lacking in gadgets… nor in power! The turbocharged six-cylinder unit, also equipped with a 48-volt mild hybrid system, produces more than enough power of 395 horsepower and a staggering torque of 406 lb-ft. No complaints about acceleration and pick-up. When it comes time to brake, the pedal is so nervous it almost annoying, but you definitely get used to it. As standard, the Defender is powered by a 296-horsepower four-cylinder turbocharged unit. However, we were unable to test this variant.
In town, every road imperfection (and there are plenty of them!) Doesn't seem to overpower the Defender's indifference, which flaunts an unwavering ride. Behind the wheel, you feel like you can go just about anywhere, and that's really satisfying.
With its muscular presentation and off-road capabilities superior to any other product from the brand, the Defender will inevitably bring a new kind of customer base to Land Rover dealerships. Let’s just hope for them that the reliability will also surpass that of other models in the showroom.