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Posh new Defender takes it to the limit - once again

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Changing times, changing shapes: The new and old Land Rover Defender models

Changing times, changing shapes: The new and old Land Rover Defender models

Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender

There is an artillery of technology ready to do all sorts

There is an artillery of technology ready to do all sorts

Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender

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Changing times, changing shapes: The new and old Land Rover Defender models

We were a long, long way from the old Land Rover Defender at the recent launch of the new passenger version.

In effect, we were worlds apart as the new Defender went on show in Dublin.

I was at the unveiling of a special edition passenger model at Jaguar Land Rover's headquarters in Sandyford.

My one question was: who will buy it, on the basis it is unlikely to tread the same mucky farmyard/mountainside/you-name-it paths as frequently as its bare, basic, rock-solid, out-and-out workhorse forerunner?

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Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender

Chalk and cheese you might think, and you'd be correct. But only so far as design and comfort are concerned.

Because beneath the plush leather cosseting on the display model, carpets and myriad clever touches lies an artillery of technology ready to do all sorts: raise the body, get you most places thanks to an all-terrain system or warm you with seats which can heat when the temperature reaches your pre-set level.

There are, in addition, 170 accessory options.

And that's not just for the primarily passenger models. There will be commercials in the autumn every bit as capable - depending on spec levels too, of course. Somehow commercials don't require as big a mental leap to envisage a Defender trundling across a muddy hillside. Among other configurations, they will come with a third 'jump' seat. Indeed, I should be concentrating more on the commercials, because that is where the volume sales will be.

But that won't be until later in the year, while the passenger 110 LWB gets here officially in April and the SWB 90 by July. The 110 LWB models have air suspension, the 90 SWBs are coil sprung.

In the course of the demo model used on the Irish circuit, 15 people have seen enough - and bought one already.

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There is an artillery of technology ready to do all sorts

There is an artillery of technology ready to do all sorts

There is an artillery of technology ready to do all sorts

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Another thing that is a long way from the old one is pricing. It starts from €68,160 for the LWB 110 2.0 SD4 AWD automatic, €75,460 for the S trim, with SE trim at €82,020 and HSE from €91,200; First Edition is at €96,480 and the range-topper X model €130,455.

Commercials are set to join the line-up later in the autumn: 110 first, with 90 to follow.

They've gone to extremes - Defenders do extremes - to make this modern while claiming it to be the toughest vehicle they have made to date.

It is large, chunky, robust and tough as teak to look at. It is big, broadly comfortable, spacious and simply laid out to sit in.

Extremes? The outside panels are no longer flat, as was the case with the old Defender; it has a monocoque all-in chassis which lets them do things you can't with a ladder set-up, such as make it three times stiffer.

AWD and twin-speed auto box are standard. Wheels range from 18in to 22in and there is a full-size spare on the tailgate.

But sitting in this new motor is a long, long way from the old one.

There is a huge block dash and a massive central console - well, at least there was in the model on display.

It was impossible not to imagine driving it across the face of a wintry countryside as the elements lashed bitter rain outside the showroom.

There is loads of room and five, six or seven people can be accommodated.

The driver's seat is high and mighty with good visibility out the back. If you haven't good visibility, a special camera system will show you what's going on.

The roof could be an accommodating place too - you can sleep on it. Indeed, two can sleep there because it can take 168kg.

First here will be the 2-litre 4-cylinder diesels with either 200PS or 240PS. And there will be a petrol plug-in by the end of the year, realistically for January 2021 sale.

So who will buy it? Commercial purchases will go the way of those who have a variety of real work for the new model.

Passenger buyers will surely, as one expert told me, buy for the lifestyle they lead - leisure, equine or whatever.

It's a long way all right. A long way from go-anywhere workhorse to go-anywhere lifestyle workhorse.


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