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Land Rover Defender 110 D240

The most anticipated SUV of the year has finally arrived in South Africa, amid a COVID-19 pandemic that has negatively touched everything and everyone

By Thami Masemola on 01 Oct 2020
The most anticipated SUV of the year has finally arrived in South Africa, amid a COVID-19 pandemic that has negatively touched everything and everyone. The new Land Rover Defender is here to smooth things out for us, make us feel alive again, take us places we have never been before and remind us that we are human. At least that’s how I see it. And yes, it is that good.

Defender was never going to remain the same after 70 odd years in the market. Only the real aficionados have actually noticed the more than 20 changes that have happened with the old vehicle all that time. The rest of the populace believes that it remained the same. And so when the brand new model was announced, many different ideas ran around people’s minds. Will it be as good off-road? Will it be rugged? Will it drive better? Will it have Apple CarPlay? How much will it cost?
So when our test vehicle arrived – the Defender 110 D240 – we sought to answer as many of these questions as possible, in order to assist potential buyers with their decisions. Design wise, the Defender is very good looking, objectively speaking. It seems to hark back on the old car, but also takes it forward into the present and even the future. Items like LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry, tyres with dark 18-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, an electrically-deployable tow bar and others are not only giving the car stylish, modern looks, but also add to its renowned practicality.

Inside we found a very comfortable ambiance, with the leather/ woven textile finish on the seats feeling relaxing and stress-free for the body. The front seats are electrically adjustable for individual preferences. So is the multi-function steering wheel. Floor mats are rubber, as a reminder that this is primarily an off-roader. More on that later.

Being a new Land Rover means the Defender is equipped with pretty much every conceivable new technology that the company currently has in the market. Depending on the model and options available, one can really specify their vehicle ‘til the cows come home. Our test car had features like 25.4cm infotainment touch screen with satellite navigation, Off-Road Pack, Driver Assist Pack, Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack, 3-zone climate control, 5 seats (you can add another two), Clearsight rear view which works with a camera at the back and bypasses the intrusive spare wheel for a clear view, Hill Launch Assist, Hill Descent Control, and many others.

This is a Land Rover first and foremost, and therefore all-wheel-drive is standard. Our D240 came with a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine producing 177kW at 4 000rpm, and peak torque of 430Nm at 1 400rpm. It is mated to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission. Land Rover claims it can accelerate from 0 - 100km/h in 9.1 seconds and reach a 188km/h top speed. Good figures, but nothing to boast about around a braai stand. Mind you this car weighs over 2.2 tonnes. We returned an average fuel consumption of 8.3 litres per 100km from the 85 litre diesel tank during our week-long test.

While the new Defender will be competing against established “Sandton mom SUVs”, it’s important to remember that it is still a Land Rover, and indeed, a Defender. Therefore, we took it off-road through some challenging obstacles, some of which owners would not even attempt because of the car’s value. It took them on with so much ease that we were left wondering why anyone looking in the segment would even consider any other off-roader. Mud, steep off-road hills, a river stream and normal gravel are some of the challenges it conquered without a single complaint. The suspension can be raised quite high, and wading depth can be upped to 900mm, which is absolutely stunning.

With its off-road bias, the Defender does feel less comfortable on the road, especially at higher speeds. So handling will not be comparable to the Range Rover Sport’s for instance, or the top German in the handling game. But it is decent. And more importantly, a very comfortable ride, especially for passengers.
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