When, as the story goes, the first Land Rover was drawn in the sand in 1947 a legendary brand was born. An iconic brand that soon became synonymous with no-nonsense toughness and adventure – a true workhorse, targeted at a breed of adventurers rearing to explore the most remote places on earth.
Its been just over a month since the launch of the new Defender 110 to the South African market during July – a launch that was eagerly awaited by Land Rover fans and critics alike…. So what has the response been? At launch time, reports indicated a large number of pre-orders and since then sales have been positive, considering the current lockdown and resulting financial strain on our country.
Experts are divided: some love it, some like it, some find it way too advanced and gimmicky… The Adventure-Avontuur Afrika team falls in the “like but almost love” camp. Let’s face it: it is a good-looking vehicle, well-specced, with impressive power output (especially the top of class 294kW P400 X that claims a 0-100 in 6 seconds!) – but: at a price range starting just under a bar and going up to over R1,5-million, it simply is not attainable to all. So, is it a true successor to the most iconic adventure vehicle? Will it fill the shoes left by the original Defender?
Brand ambassador and most travelled person on the African continent, Kingsley Holgate certainly thinks so; saying he and his Holgate Foundation eagerly awaited the launch of the new Defender and they were not disappointed. Replacing his two Expedition Defenders after covering a combined 200,000kms of life-saving journeys to every single country on this continent, two new Defenders have been prepared for gruelling expeditions using a wide range of Land Rover approved accessories. Still tight-lipped about the details of his next expedition, Kingsley and his son Ross alongside another brand ambassador Bryan Habana put the new Defender through its paces at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience track in Johannesburg. View his thoughts here.
GrootFM radio host Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger and her Wiele-2-Wiele co-host Nicol Louw recently debated the pro’s and cons of the new Defender and, similar to our team, it is an opinion divided with the biggest concern raised being the capability of the vehicle reaching all those remote places, considering the heavy use of electronics. Listen here for more:
Dubbed by the Land Rover marketing team as the most capable Land Rover ever created, the new model represents 70 years of innovation and improvement; honouring the vehicle’s history for rugged solidity while thoroughly remaining a Defender for the 21st century.
A comprehensive model range is available, with four specification packs including base Defender, S, SE and HSE models. Standard features in all versions include permanent all-wheel drive with a high- and low-range transfer box, air suspension, Terrain Response, LED headlights, Connected Navigation, 3D Surround Cameras, 10-inch Pivi Pro infotainment, a Driver Condition Monitor, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Smartphone Packs to name a few.
This new version is not only driven by a passion and respect for the original, it also inherits the previous model’s naming convention. Available now in 110 guise, which gives a historic nod to the 110-inch wheelbase of the previous generation, the Defender 110 body style offers customers a choice of five, six or 5+2 seating configurations and a loadspace ranging from 1,075 litres behind the second row to 2,380 litres with seats folded.
The line-up includes a flagship 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder P400 featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology with outputs of 294kW and 550Nm. Alternatively, customers can choose between two 2.0-litre variants, with a P300 turbocharged petrol offering 221kW and 400Nm, and a D240 twin-turbocharged diesel producing 177kW and 430Nm. A short-wheelbase Defender 90, with seating for up to six, is scheduled for South African introduction early next year.
Customers can also personalise their vehicle in more ways than any previous Land Rover with four Accessory Packs. The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs each give Defender a distinct character with a specially selected range of enhancements.
- The Explorer Pack includes a raised air intake, a lightweight Expedition roof rack to carry up to 132kg, a 24-litre exterior side-mounted gear carrier, matte black bonnet decal, and wheel arch protection to help conquer the most uncharted African landscapes.
- The Adventure Pack developed to make more of nature’s playground, consists of a portable rinse system for hosing off boots, bikes and wetsuits, a 20 litre Seat Backpack, bright rear scuff plate, front and rear mudflaps, a spare wheel cover, an integrated air compressor ideal for inflating tyres or air mattresses, and the same side-mounted Gear Carrier.
- A Country Pack equips the Defender with front and rear Classic mudflaps, a full-height loadspace partition to prevent items in the rear loadspace from entering the cabin, wheel arch protection, a bright rear scuff plate and the portable rinse system.
- Finally, the Urban Pack comprises bright metal pedals, a bright rear scuff plate, a spare wheel cover, and front under shield protection to make the Defender stand out with style in the concrete jungle.
Will motoring scribes talk and write about this model Defender as iconic in a decade or three? Will we look back at it as an icon redefined? A watershed moment for Land Rover design and tech? Only time will tell! The Adventure-Avontuur Afrika team can’t wait to put this beast through its paces on one of our boundary-pushing adventures – watch this space for more.