LAND ROVER DEFENDER
Overdrive|November 2020
Luxurious SUV in the streets, utilitarian off-roader where it counts
SIMRAN RASTOGI

Type 1,997cc, 4-cyl turbo-petrol

Max power 300PS@5,500rpm

Max torque 400Nm@1,500-4,000rpm

LxWxH(mm) 5,018x2,105x1,967

OD Rating

Price ₹1.09 crore, on road Mumbai

+ve Looks and feels tough, superb ride and interiors, off-road tech

-ve Powertrain doesn’t feel effortlessly capable, it’s a guzzler, expensive

The Defender may not have the same illustrious heritage in India as it does internationally, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hit you with a primal urge to go explore, or find adventure, every time you look at its simple, rugged exteriors. Those urges, for most who buy it, will probably end up being satiated with a trip to the mall, or stretching further, to the farmhouse. But image is everything, and the Defender already has that battle won. Ordinary off-roader the Defender is not, clearly verging more towards a luxury SUV, with a versatile and beautifully crafted cabin that will put rivals to shame. Is the Defender the last word in capable, premium SUVs then?

Platform

Like we said, the Defender isn’t an offroader in the way the Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, or the old Defender 90/110 (1983-2016) are, underpinned as they are by old-school ladder-on-frame chassis. Based instead on Land Rover’s D7X aluminium intensive platform, the most rigid monocoque it makes, the Defender immediately promises miles-better on-road manners and comfort. It’s bespoke to the Defender too and is said to be much stiffer structurally, meaning it should be more capable off the road as well. This is good news, since the 110 (five-door) has a massive 3,022mm long wheelbase, meaning it’s closer to 119-inches than its name would suggest, and the option of a 5+2 seat configuration. The short-wheelbase, three-door 90 (2,587mm), while launched alongside the 110, will only come to India later. Meanwhile, the Defender has impressive off-roading credentials – numbers that should be of interest to off-road enthusiasts with really deep pockets and courage – 38 degrees approach, 40 degrees departure and 900mm of water wading. That’s waist height for most people, and it’ll take a brave Defender owner to test it out. Even its 31 degree break over angle is quite competitive to something like the Wrangler’s 28 degrees.

Styling

The purposeful-looking, 5m long Defender turns heads in the way not many SUVs do. In fact, it’s the sort of attention that’s usually reserved for hardcore off-roaders, especially when they’re spotted in atypical urban environments! Land Rover’s design chief, Gerry McGovern, has been hard at work on the original’s replacement for over a decade, with the DC100 concept of 2011 giving us a peek at the rough design, while the unreleased LR1 design study fixed some of the negative feedback on that concept.

The result is a fuss-free, rounded yet-boxy design, with modern takes on timeless elements of the Defender, via the circle in square headlights, the flared arches, ‘squircle’ tail lamps, or even the harder-to-spot Alpine windows over the C-pillar. The front end is quite vertical, as is the rear with the spare-wheel attached, but the raked windscreen does mean its 0.38 coefficient of drag isn’t as block-like as, say a G-Class’ 0.54. The Defender looks mean, and it means business.

It’s bloody functional too, despite the anti-skid plate pattern on the hood being reproduced in plastic, and not actual aluminium. After our day at the beach, hosing the Defender off proved simpler than expected, with sand just rolling off its simple, gently-curved surfaces. Even the slot-like grilles and plastic door sills were easy to get spotless. If you find the air vents on the side offensive, know that the one on the left is functional, and can be fed via an optional snorkel intake. Despite wearing 20-inch wheels, the Defender’s fitted with Goodyear AT rubber with a healthy 255/60 section and an aggressive enough pattern to head straight from the showroom into any slush pit of your choosing.

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