The Defender is the model that built Land-Rover’s reputation as a go-anywhere 4×4. World-famous South African explorer Kingsley Holgate swears by them and has used plenty of them on many of his expeditions. The rugged boxy design has been around for plenty of years with very few major changes along the way. This tough-looking off-roader has garnered a cult-like following because of it. I have always been a huge fan of it and that’s why I feel Land-Rover had a mammoth task when designing an all-new one. I think they have executed it superbly! what are your thoughts? The new Defender would have to be tough under the skin as well to really continue the form.
No more Ladder.
Probably one of the most significant changes has to be the swop over to a monocoque chassis from the traditional body on ladder frame setup. Those hardcore 4×4 enthusiasts might feel that this change over is a negative one. however, Land-Rover says they shouldn’t worry as they claim this is their stiffest body structure they have ever produced. This strong structure is able to withstand 6.5 tonnes of snatch load through the recovery points. What makes the original Defender so great offroad is the suspension, it is also the thing that makes it not so good on it.
The new Defender rides on a completely new setup comprising of a double-wishbone front and an integral link rear suspension. The new suspension can be specified with passive coil springs or Electronic air suspension and the decision comes down to how far off the beaten track you want to go. In my opinion its easier to fix a mechanical suspension in the middle of the bush. All the new suspension trickery makes it a lot easier to live with on the road. With a standard wading depth of 900mm and ground clearance of 291mm, it should be pretty handy offroad. The approach and departure angles are pretty decent aswell measuring 38 and 40 degrees respectively.
New Defender will be available with a wide range of powertrains including Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) and Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV). All models feature a ZF sourced 8-speed automatic. Both the front and rear diff are electronically controlled.
At launch, diesel power comes from a choice of four-cylinder D200 or
D240 engines, with sequential twin-turbo technology providing 430Nm
of torque to optimise performance and economy. The D200 delivers fuel economy of 37.2mpg (7.6 l/100km) and 0-100km/h in 10.3 seconds (0-60mph
in 9.9 seconds) while the more powerful D240 matches the 200PS for efficiency while accelerating from 0-100km/h in 9.1 seconds (0-60mph in 8.7 seconds). Both provide competitive CO2 emissions of 199g/km (NEDC equivalent). These performance figures are like something from science fiction if you compare it to the old Defenders.
There are two petrol engines on offer, a turbocharged four-cylinder P300 engine and an efficient six-cylinder P400 MHEV powertrain. The 300PS unit uses an advanced twin-scroll turbo for smooth performance and efficiency, accelerating from 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds (0-60mph in 7.7 seconds) with CO2 emissions as low as 227g/km (NEDC equivalent). The in-line six-cylinder Ingenium petrol features both a conventional twin-scroll turbocharger and an advanced 48-volt electric supercharger, with a belt integrated starter motor in place of the alternator to assist the petrol engine, and a 48-volt lithium-ion battery to store energy captured as the vehicle slows down. In combination, these advanced technologies provide 400PS and 550Nm of torque, 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds. Although this technology is fantastic for performance and efficiency the question I ask is how reliable with it be in the middle of nowhere?.
Chalk and Cheese.
Luxury, not a word you would usually use to describe a Defender however I think things are about to change. Climb inside and you are greeted with things like leather seats, climate control and an array of digital displays. These are things you would not find in an original defender but these are the items which open the vehicle to a broader market. It also depends on which specification you opt for. The model range designation includes S, SE, HSE, First edition and X. The range of accessory packs consists of Adventure, Country, Explorer and Urban each suited to their respective application. As much as the defender has been designed to be the rugged adventurer I think the urban pack will be the most common.
Has the new Defender become too soft/advanced for the type of people that would have traditionally bought it? I think they have gauged it correctly for today’s market and feel it is going to sell very well. What are your thoughts?