RE: 2020 Land Rover Defender | The short review

RE: 2020 Land Rover Defender | The short review

Wednesday 25th March

2020 Land Rover Defender | UK review

PH has also driven the new Defender in the UK. Just around the block this time...



A month or so after we drove the Defender in Namibia, Land Rover invited PH back to drive the car in the UK. The backdrop could hardly have been more different, not just for the stark contrast of a rainy day in the Midlands, but for the colossal disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Instead of a UK launch involving hundreds, Land Rover's best-laid plans have been condensed into a pub car park. Even the planned whirlwind tour of Gaydon's new studios had been canned; JLR's vast facility is no longer accepting visitors.

Obviously it's a shame that it's come to this given the stupendous amount of work which goes into launching a car, especially one this significant. Although the situation does provide an irresistible parallel to the Series I, a car conceived, developed and built in a country shattered by six years of total war and still subject to some rationing. We're not quite there yet, of course - but when the talk inside the pub is of JLR's pledge to help the UK government in any way it can, it does rather set current priorities in order.

Further discussion of the new Defender is frankly a welcome distraction. As in Namibia, there is a choice of P400 petrol and D240 diesel to drive, except that these early cars are not weighed down with the various Explorer Pack accessories, and are on standard-fit alloy wheels and all-season tyres. This difference certainly helps to tone down the more ambitious aspects of the Defender's styling, although the setting does its bit, too: rather tellingly, the car looks far more at home outside a gastropub than it did in rural Africa.


Question is, does it feel at home on the road? Resoundingly, the answer is yes. Any lingering doubts over the car's ride and refinement - things which couldn't be clarified in Namibia - are wrapped up almost instantly. The Defender rides very astutely; firmer than a Discovery and with more acknowledgement of the road surface than you'd get from anything wearing a Range Rover badge - but there is plenty of air-sprung, long-travel pliancy and no undue concern about the level of noise you're subjected to.

Land Rover likes to talk at length about its product pillars, and, dynamically speaking, it isn't hard to see how the Defender slots in between the Discovery and Range Rover Sport. JLR's Chief Engineer, Mr Mike Cross himself, confessed to PH that the car's character wasn't terrifically difficult to tune into an already well understood layout - the crucial thing was that it had a character; one that distinguished it from its familiar stablemates without being unfaithful to the model's legacy.

As we learnt in Namibia, the Defender delivers handsomely in this regard. The steering resistance is beefier, but well matched to an assertive, big-shouldered turn in. On a high-grip surface the car's roll rate is obviously more noticeable, although only in the way which seems inherent to big Land Rover products - which is to say, very well controlled after the initial lean and commensurate with driver expectations for such a tall car.


Much as it did off-road, the Defender drives with more purpose than a Discovery. There is genuine satisfaction to be had from threading it down a spindly B-road, its obvious size not inhibiting either your ability to place it in the lane or willingness to coax it around corners a little quicker than is strictly necessary. Much like its peers, it hustles along at six-tenths to seven-tenths very contentedly indeed. Clearly it has a taller centre of gravity than the Range Rover Sport and therefore fewer of the fast-road smarts, but the chassis poise and a general sense of connection with the road surface is never in question - and that isn't exactly a given in a heavy, air-sprung SUV.

For the most part, the Defender does a sterling job of concealing its considerable mass. The likeable compromise between handling and comfort has you cheerily leaning into bends with it - a quirk that served its predecessor very well. But there is a limit to the finesse, and it's easily findable if you attempt a smallish roundabout with too much vigour. Amusingly, the Defender's balance - much-heralded on Namibia's soft sand - does not desert it, but the car above it does suddenly seem like a bit of a brute.

That's understandable, of course, and easy to forgive. Somewhat less condonable is the effect it has on flat-out performance. Away from the road, 400hp seems ample. Generous, even. Back on it, with your point of reference reset, the P400's delivery feels more industrious than abundant. Land Rover claims 5.8 seconds to 60mph (6.1 to 62mph), which seems optimistic to the point of imaginary. The quickest Defender is brisk and responsive and amenable to the point of effortlessness. But outright fast it is not.


Does it need to be? That, ultimately, is the post-pub question. Elsewhere, the car is much as we left it in Namibia. Which is to say, very persuasive. Probably more so, because even a brief trundle around Warwickshire confirms that the job has not been half done: take away the dunes and the elephants and the cerulean sky, put back roads and people and normal tyres, and the Defender is still that little bit different, that little bit special. As it needed to be.

But is it better as a diesel then? Is the D240, equipped with 317lb ft of torque and a slightly lower kerb weight, the one to have if the most powerful version isn't going to really blow your hair back? Certainly the difference in price makes a compelling case; the 2.0-litre Ingenium unit can be selected much lower in the trim line-up, making it Β£52,070 out of the gate. Even with its fundamental superiority in drivability and refinement, it's hard to argue that the straight-six is more than Β£27k better than the oil burner.

Or it's hard in the UK, at any rate. Put the sand and the wildlife and the empty horizon back in, and you'd want the long-striding, drone-free engine - and to hell with the cost. As virtually every overseas buyer will presumably opt to do. But here you'll need to think twice, because, price aside, the Defender's charms honestly have little to do with how fast it gets away from the line. Which shows just how good it really is.


SPECIFICATION | LAND ROVER DEFENDER 110 P400
Engine:
2996cc, six-cyl turbo, petrol
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 406@2,000-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 119mph
Weight: 2,343kg (DIN, 7-seat)
CO2: 257-277g/km (WLTP, 7-seat)
MPG: 23.2-24.9 (WLTP, 7-seat)
Price: from Β£79,655

SPECIFICATION | LAND ROVER DEFENDER 110 D240
Engine:
1999cc, four-cyl turbo, diesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 240@4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 317@1,400rpm
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Top speed: 117mph
Weight: 2,248kg (DIN, 5-seat)
CO2: 234-251g/km (WLTP, 5-seat)
MPG: 31.7-29.6 (WLTP, 5-seat)
Price: from Β£52,070

Click here for the long review of the new Land Rover Defender














Author
Discussion

aston addict

Original Poster:

295 posts

116 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Got excited to see a review of the Defender - heart sank when I saw NC was the author. Sorry Nic your prose is as hard to read as ever...

Anyway, the car itself - think it looks great - but not in white; and surely £79k is a typo?!

LimaDelta

4,510 posts

176 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
aston addict said:
and surely £79k is a typo?!
You'd like to think so wouldn't you, but somehow I doubt it.

sjt85

36 posts

89 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Those prices are astonishing, will obviously be discounted when leased/pcp’d but that’s X5 territory.

Arsecati

985 posts

75 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
£80k????????? Sweet divine ****!!!!!!!!!!






As for NC's writing, well, I've never been a fan in the past, and usually knew he was the author after reading 2 lines - but I didn't know this was NC until you mentioned it in the comments, so there'll be no criticism from me this time: this is a COLOSSAL improvement from his overflowing fluff of the past! wink

JJ55

591 posts

73 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Gorgeous car. But the prices... ouch!

LaurasOtherHalf

18,191 posts

154 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Utility vehicles are fantastic, I mean I love my Amorak but the prices for these are astounding.

llcoolmac

145 posts

58 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
LaurasOtherHalf said:
Utility vehicles are fantastic, I mean I love my Amorak but the prices for these are astounding.
A major problem for this utility vehicle is that it's not a UTILITY vehicle! It can't do anything that a normal car or SUV can't also do. It's a pathetic attempt at making something proper. A posers vehicle and nothing more. These will not be used as a work vehicle at all and the price reflects that. A vehicle that will be bought by idiots who think they have got some sort of pseudo military vehicle when all they really got was a less comfortable Range Rover Sport in drag.

Cold

9,763 posts

48 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
This isn't being marketed as an SUV. It's a 4x4.

scottygib553

446 posts

53 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
That sure is a price...

jason61c

3,900 posts

132 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
So they've built a Kia Soul?

https://www.kia.com/uk/new-cars/all-new-soul-ev/

However about 4 times as much money and more than likely not built nearly as well.

What a joke.

Shakermaker

11,313 posts

58 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
jason61c said:
So they've built a Kia Soul?

https://www.kia.com/uk/new-cars/all-new-soul-ev/

However about 4 times as much money and more than likely not built nearly as well.

What a joke.
It wasn't funny in the other thread when you posted it there either.

But, you're entirely free not to buy one, and not to like it, nobody will mind in the slightest, we all like different things and that's why we have such a fantastic selection of cars on the market to choose from!

wilkij1975

19 posts

58 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
llcoolmac said:
A major problem for this utility vehicle is that it's not a UTILITY vehicle! It can't do anything that a normal car or SUV can't also do. It's a pathetic attempt at making something proper. A posers vehicle and nothing more. These will not be used as a work vehicle at all and the price reflects that. A vehicle that will be bought by idiots who think they have got some sort of pseudo military vehicle when all they really got was a less comfortable Range Rover Sport in drag.
Could not agree more. A pointless vehicle.

cayman-black

9,674 posts

174 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
£80k bloody hell, nice though.

Jon_S_Rally

855 posts

46 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
I have no doubt that I'm not the target audience for this vehicle, but I'm still not sure I "get it". It's obviously not the tool that the old car was but, for me, it doesn't really fit the premium, luxury SUV thing either. I can't help but think that the G-class does the "rough and ready workhorse come good" thing much, much better. I am sure they will sell plenty of them though, though probably more overseas.

All that aside though, it's still fk ugly.

knebworth01

103 posts

78 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Front number plate is mounted too low, makes the front end look droopy.
Seems minor but you see quite a few manufactuers putting the numberplates in the 'wrong place' and it totally spoils the look of the intended styling.

John-skoe0

35 posts

27 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
This is what the Discovery should have looked like!

jsc15

981 posts

166 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
I think JLR have seen the enthusiasm from the pre-launch hype and added £20k to each car that should be £40k or £60k. I seem to remember Aston doing the same with the V8 Vantage about 16 years ago, and F-Types have always felt about £10k over the odds.

It's really crazy money and I think future residuals might look really bad once the initial novelty wears off and everyone seems to have one, a la Evoque/Velar. I still feel they could bring a basic SWB Defender in at sub-£30k (ex VAT) for the farmers however.

Cold

9,763 posts

48 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
jsc15 said:
I think JLR have seen the enthusiasm from the pre-launch hype and added £20k to each car that should be £40k or £60k. I seem to remember Aston doing the same with the V8 Vantage about 16 years ago, and F-Types have always felt about £10k over the odds.

It's really crazy money and I think future residuals might look really bad once the initial novelty wears off and everyone seems to have one, a la Evoque/Velar. I still feel they could bring a basic SWB Defender in at sub-£30k (ex VAT) for the farmers however.
Defenders start at £40,290 for the 90 and £45,560 for the 110.

jsc15

981 posts

166 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Cold said:
jsc15 said:
I think JLR have seen the enthusiasm from the pre-launch hype and added £20k to each car that should be £40k or £60k. I seem to remember Aston doing the same with the V8 Vantage about 16 years ago, and F-Types have always felt about £10k over the odds.

It's really crazy money and I think future residuals might look really bad once the initial novelty wears off and everyone seems to have one, a la Evoque/Velar. I still feel they could bring a basic SWB Defender in at sub-£30k (ex VAT) for the farmers however.
Defenders start at £40,290 for the 90 and £45,560 for the 110.
Yes the starting prices are more reasonable (maybe £5k over) but I'm seeing the 110 P400 featured at £80k, and the cars higher in the range don't have £35k extra value to move the 110 to £80k.......i.e. something that should be £60k tops is somehow £80k

If they've added £20k to each car that should be £40k or £60k, then these are the models they now want £60k and £80k for (respectively)

Cold

9,763 posts

48 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Why do you think they should be so cheap?