THE new Land Rover Defender has had some criticism from die-hard fans since it’s inception and release. And we were right there with them, wondering if Land Rover had butchered a legacy to create the new Defender.
But does it still do all the same rugged off-roading that the ever-aging previous generation did, and can Land Rover defend the Defender name with this new, stylish, plastic off-roader?
With a huge cult following, it’s the hearts of the enthusiasts where the brand must prove itself, first and foremost. And we have to say, they’ve bought the popular off-roader out of the dark ages and into this century.
You will find little homages to the previous generation, like the body shape and lines, the industrial interior, the headlights and taillights, and alpine windows. That’s a nice touch, that bridges the gap between the two.
There a six engine configurations to choose from, starting from the D200 4-cylinder twin turbo 2.0-litre diesel offering 147kW, right through to the P400 we’re driving here, with its 6-cylinder 3.0-litre turbo petrol engine producing 294kW and 550Nm.
Just the engine choices and power outputs alone, put the old generation to shame. And like the previous version, there are two body styles; the 110 (4-door) and 90 (2-door). Our test vehicle came in SE trim, draped in Fuji White.
To feel the heavy beast that is the Defender, coming in at 2.2 tonnes, move from dead still to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds is an impressive feat, and one it accomplishes effortlessly. You will find yourself driving it more sedately for the most part though.
Flat sticking it everywhere and, while that will put a smile on your face, you will be watching the fuel drain like bath water. Land Rover claims 9.9-litres/100km but you’ll be doing well to keep it below 12.0-litres.
One of the coolest things Land Rover has added to the Defender though is the air suspension package. It will feel like you’re floating over obstacles, whether you’re on the road, or in the dirt.
Thanks to that suspension, getting in and out of the Defender is also easy, with an access mode, which hunkers the Defender as close as it can to the ground. That’s great for those of us who are vertically challenged.
Don’t be put off by those 20-inch wheels either, they can handle everything you throw at them. And don’t worry about getting them dirty either, because it’s off road where the 4×4 Defender comes into its own.
It’s begging to get down and dirty, whether that be on the sand or in the mud, or even in the snow. It will handle it all.
On the inside, you will be greeted by something you’ve never seen in a Defender before. Opulence (well by Land Rover Defender standards), technology, and even a fridge in the centre console.
It still maintains its hardworking demeanour, with an industrial style inside, but it’s all class and technology too. The Defender is jam packed with gizmos and gadgets, including wireless phone charging, that fridge, and 240V and 12V outlets everywhere.
There’s also radar cruise control, lane departure warning and a raft of safety features, as well as a heap of nifty little storage spots throughout the cabin. There’s even a funky new dashboard.
Our tester was fitted with a still classy vinyl floor, that’s not only comfortable under foot, but extremely easy to clean, especially when you need to get mud and sand out of the cabin. This alone is a true sign that Land Rover have maintained the old heritage.
For those with large families, there’s ample legroom up front and in the back, and with the option of having the Defender as a 7-seater, there is plenty of choice to suit the size of your tribe.
For the Land Rover enthusiasts, we recommend you give the new offering a chance, because it’s better than it’s ever been. It maintains a balance between the old and the new, capturing the essence of old school in a 21st Century offering.
And sure, the live axles are gone, and it hasn’t been put together with a rivet gun, but the 2021 Land Rover Defender 110 P400 SE has more than lived up to our expectations.
You can expect to pay around $102,000 plus on-roads for the standard P400 SE variant, with optional extras providing a little bit of a sting in the tail, that could make it very easy to blow that price out by another $20,000.
Aside from Fuji White, you can also choose Pangea Green, Gondwana Stone, Eiger Grey, Tasman Blue, Santorini Black, Yulong White, Hakuba Silver, Carpathian Grey and Silicon Silver for your shiny new Defender 110.
Our test vehicle was provided by Land Rover Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Land Rover Defender 110 P400 SE, contact your local Land Rover dealer. Mud image courtesy of Mitch Zeinert Photography.