After a lull of four years, the Land Rover Defender is back with us once again. Despite the many niggles that often accompanied owning one, the vehicle built up a tremendous reputation over the decades.
Much of that legacy rests on its ability as a workhorse and it was rather a wonder that the company didn't immediately capitalize on this at its launch.
However, that has all been rectified now with Land Rover announcing the new 'Hard Top' versions which will become available towards the end of this year.
In addition to re-introducing the Hard Top name for the commercial range, the company has also retained the 90 and 110 monikers for the short and long-wheelbase variants.
The much loved coil suspension is also there as is an air suspension option for the 110 along with all the techie stuff which coordinates the whole. We are also promised "Tough materials and clever storage solutions to ensure it surpasses the capability of any previous Defender Hard Top", which at least indicates that something has been done about the rather awkwardly shaped load area of the previous chassis-based types.
Also pledged is a new focus on long haul comfort which may not be the immediate concern of every farmer but it is certainly welcomed by anyone who has endured driving any distance in its forebears.
The company stresses that the latest incarnation of the vehicle will retain all the ruggedness and durability of its predecessors claiming a 900mm wade capability and a maximum ground clearance of 291mm.
Of particular interest to farmers is the 3,500kg towing capacity and what the company dubs an 'Advanced Tow Assist' feature which allows the driver to independently steer a trailer while reversing. In addition, there will be available an all-round camera system giving a clear view of the vehicles immediate surroundings, handy for tight spots and positioning prior to loading we are happily informed.
The cab is designed primarily for two with an optional jump seat allowing the carrying of an extra passenger. Naturally, it will be equipped with all the connectivity a heart could desire and even the dependable rearview mirror is supplanted by a camera. As yet Land Rover has not released the full technical specifications, including payload, but it has indicated a starting price of around £35,000 before VAT in the UK.
From a purists point of view though there is one small fly in the ointment and that is thanks to its monocoque body a pickup version is not presently available. It was the open-backed 'Landie' that lent itself to many adaption's and conversions during its model life and it is one feature that is quite conspicuous by its absence.
Hopefully, the company will work out a way of redeeming this omission but there appears to be no suggestion of doing so at present.