At last, the long wait for the unveiling of the New Land Rover Defender – the most capable Land Rover ever made – ended on Thursday, July 16, when the re-incarnated icon was presented to the sub-Sahara Africa market via a virtual launch that was indeed an unforgettable experience.
While the event lasted, the new Defender proved it had been tested to the extreme; equipped for any terrain and challenge, and is respectful of its past, but not harnessed by it. “This is a new Defender for a New Age,” members of the ‘audience’ were told.
Testifying to the vehicle’s rich endowment during the launch that lasted for over an hour were Land Rover officials in South Africa/Sub-Sahara Africa and the head office in the UK, as well as Land Rover Ambassador, Bryan Habana, and humanitarian adventurers, Kingsley and Ross Holgate.
Subsequently, the Holgates took two units of the New Land Rover Defender on their first ever off-road adventure in Africa. This came three years and more than 250,000km combined, after the father-and-son had retired the world’s most traveled Land Rover Discoveries.
The unveiling marked the arrival of the New Land Rover Defender in the sub-Sahara Africa markets, including Nigeria where it is expected to be formally launched by the Jaguar Land Rover representative in the country, Coscharis Motors Limited, on a date to be announced soon.
Beside the luxurious and refined Range Rover family and the capable and versatile Discovery SUVs, new Defender completes the Land Rover line up.
Not only is the new version 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.
A short-wheelbase Defender 90, with seating for up to six, is scheduled for introduction early next year.
At launch the 110 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 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 and a Driver Condition Monitor to name a few*.
The S adds 12-way powered front seats (instead of eight), a leather gearshift, an 12.3-inch high-definition Interactive Driver Display, automatic headlight levelling and High Beam Assist, and Ebony Grained Leather among others. The SE furthers specification with Keyless Entry, ClearSight interior rear view mirror, electric steering adjustment, a 400W 10-speaker Meridian sound system and blind spot assist, while the HSE gets a sliding panoramic roof, Driver Assist Pack, 14-way heated and cooled Windsor Leather seats, extended leather upgrade and Matrix LED headlights with signature DRL.
Over and above the four specification packs is a top of the line Defender X which is based on an HSE but adds a black contrast roof and bonnet, Starlight Satin Chrome accents, orange brake calipers, rear recovery eyes, a 700W Meridian Surround Sound System with subwoofer, Head-up Display, 14-way Windsor Leather with Steelcut Premium Textile and Configurable Terrain Response 2.
A Defender 110 First Edition, available throughout the first year of production, is based on the SE model but adds standout features such as unique First Edition badging, illuminated tread plates, a Black Pack, 20-inch wheels, and a black contrast roof with sliding panoramic glass. The First Edition also benefits from grained leather upholstery, a refrigerated centre console, domestic plug sockets and Configurable Terrain Response 2. It’s available in three exterior colours – Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone or Pangea Green.
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 undershield protection to make the Defender stand out with style in the concrete jungle.
All of these Accessory Packs are upgradeable with extended options including deployable side steps, deployable roof ladders, front A-frame protection bars, deep-sided rubber or luxury floor and boot mats, and different wheel options to name a few.
New Defender is as technologically advanced as it is durable. It introduces Jaguar Land Rover’s next generation Pivi Pro infotainment system with a more intuitive and user-friendly touchscreen, requiring fewer inputs to perform frequently used tasks. Its always-on design guarantees almost instant responses.
The Defender also takes Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) technology to a new level, with 14 individual modules capable of receiving remote updates. By downloading data while customers are asleep at home or in remote locations, the new Defender will get better with age: as electronic updates cascade down to the vehicle immediately, without delay and with no need to visit a Land Rover retailer.
Permanent all-wheel drive and a twin-speed automatic gearbox, centre differential and optional Active Locking Rear Differential ensure the Defender has the hardware required to tackle the harshest conditions in Africa.
Configurable Terrain Response allows experienced off-roaders to fine-tune individual vehicle settings to perfectly suit the conditions, while inexperienced drivers can leave the system to detect the best settings automatically for the conditions, using the intelligent Auto function.
World-class off road geometry sees ground clearance of up to 291mm and maximum suspension articulation of 500mm. The Defender 110’s approach, breakover and departure angles are 38, 28 and 40 degrees respectively when set in Off Road height.
Air suspension provides an off-road ride height lift of 75mm and supreme ride comfort across all surfaces. An additional 70mm of lift means the air system can raise the body by a maximum of 145mm when needed, while Elegant Arrival automatically lowers the body by 50mm to aid access.
With a maximum suspension articulation of 500mm, the Defender can tackle 45-degree side slopes and inclines of 45 degrees with customary composure, but the biggest transformation comes on the road, where the new Defender is engaging and agile.
A maximum wading depth of 900mm is supported by a new Wade programme in the Terrain Response 2 system, which automatically softens the throttle response, sets the heating and ventilation to recirculate cabin air, locks the driveline and adjusts the ride height to its off-road setting. When exiting Wade programme the new Defender automatically drags the brakes, momentarily, to clean and dry the discs and ensure optimum braking performance is restored quickly after driving through deep water.
Land Rover’s advanced ClearSight Ground View technology helps drivers take full advantage of Defender’s all-conquering capability by showing the area usually hidden by the bonnet and directly ahead of the front wheels, on the Pivi Pro touchscreen.
The new Defender raises the bar for both off road ruggedness and on-road comfort. It can negotiate city centres and suburbs as effortlessly as it can traverse the toughest mountain
passes. Its carefully honed handling delivers both a rewarding drive and first-class long-haul comfort across all terrains.
The Holgates re-unite with New Defender. The two New Defenders humanitarian adventurers, Kingsley Holgate and Ross Holgate embarked on their life-saving humanitarian work with, were prepared for grueling expeditions using a host of Land Rover-approved accessories.
Since early 1990s the father and son duo have used various Land Rover vehicles, including 15 previous generation Defenders, to deliver aid to those in need in every country on the African continent and beyond. Land Rover’s off road expertise has helped the Holgate Foundation conquer Africa’s most grueling geographies in efforts to improve lives in some extremely hard to reach places, and now a new chapter begins with the most capable and durable Land Rovers ever made.
The two new expedition vehicles are based on Defender P400 S models, which use 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines and efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) technology to provide maximum outputs of 294kW and 550Nm.
Plans for a world-first journey using the most capable Land Rovers ever made will be revealed soon by Land Rover.