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An icon reborn: The all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender

10 September 2019

Following what is surely the world’s longest teaser campaign the new Land Rover Defender has finally been unveiled and it seems to deliver on the promise of staying true to the original yet being thoroughly modern and extremely capable off-road.

The unmistakable silhouette is familiar yet new. Iconic in name, shape and capability, Defender can be personalised to allow owners to make the most of their world. Tested in the harshest environments on earth, the new Defender is set to maintain this bloodline.

Beside the peerless luxury and refinement of the Range Rover family and the highly capable and versatile Discovery SUVs, new Defender completes the Land Rover dynasty. The 110 is just the start for this family of the one of the most capable and durable 4x4s in the world, it will be swiftly followed by a short wheelbase 90 in 2020.

Driven by a passion and respect for the original, the new Defender delivers transformational breadth of capability and advanced all-terrain technologies to redefine adventure for the 21st century, while remaining true to the pioneering spirit that has been a Land Rover hallmark for 71 years.

A distinctive silhouette makes the new Defender instantly recognisable, with minimal front and rear overhangs providing excellent approach and departure angles. Land Rover’s designers re-envisioned familiar Defender trademarks for the 21st century, giving the new 4×4 a purposeful upright stance and Alpine light windows in the roof, while retaining the side-hinged rear tailgate and externally-mounted spare wheel that make the original so identifiable.

The stripped-back personality of the original Defender has been embraced inside, where structural elements and fixings usually hidden from view have been exposed, with the emphasis on simplicity and practicality. Featured include a dash-mounted gear shifter to accommodate an optional central front ‘jump’ seat, which provides three-abreast seating across the front like early Land Rovers.

As a result, the Defender 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations, with a load space behind the second-row seats of up to 1 075 litres, and as much as 2 380-litres when the second row is folded. The 90 will be able to accommodate six occupants in a vehicle the length of a compact family hatchback.

Durable rubberised flooring shrugs off the spills of daily adventures and once-in-a-lifetime expeditions, providing a brush or wipe clean interior.

Land Rover’s new purpose-engineered D7x (for extreme) architecture is 95 per cent new and based on a lightweight aluminium monocoque construction to create the stiffest body structure Land Rover has ever produced. It is said to be three times stiffer than traditional body-on-frame designs, providing perfect foundations for the fully independent air or coil sprung suspension and supports the latest electrified powertrains.

The new Defender has been through more than 62 000 tests for engineering sign-off, while the chassis and body architecture have been engineered to withstand Land Rover’s Extreme Event Test procedure – repeated and sustained impacts, above and beyond the normal standard for SUV and passenger cars.

During development testing, prototype models have covered more than 1.2 million kilometres across some of the harshest environments on earth, ranging from the 50-degree heat of the desert and sub 40-degree cold of the Arctic to altitudes of 10 000ft in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

Debuting on the new Defender is Configurable Terrain Response, allowing experienced off-roaders to fine-tune individual vehicle settings to perfectly suit the conditions, while inexperienced drivers can let the system detect the most appropriate vehicle settings for the terrain, using the intelligent Auto function.

The off-road specifications are extraordinary with a claimed ground clearance of 291mm and world-class off-road geometry, giving the 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees respectively when off-road height is selected. Its maximum wading depth of 900mm is supported by a new Wade programme in the Terrain Response 2 system, which ensures drivers can ford deep water with complete confidence.

On dry land, 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, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen.

As a result, the new Defender is set to redefine breadth of capability, raising the threshold for both off-road ruggedness and on-road comfort.

At the South African launch, which is expected to be during the first half of 2020, the 110 line-up will include a powerful 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder P400 engine with 294kW and 550Nm, along with a 2.0-litre D240 turbodiesel mill producing 177kW and 430Nm. The introduction of increased engine options, along with the short wheelbase 90 derivatives, will follow later in 2020.

Also making its debut on the Defender is the new Pivi Pro infotainment system. This next generation touchscreen is said to be more intuitive and user-friendly, requiring fewer inputs to perform frequently used tasks, while its always-on design guarantees almost instant responses.

In addition, the new Defender 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 far-flung locations, the new Defender can be refined as electronic updates cascade down to the vehicle immediately, without delay and with no need to visit a Land Rover retailer.

The model range comprises Defender, S, SE, HSE, First Edition and top of the range Defender X models and customers will be able to 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 exclusive First Edition model features a unique specification and will be available throughout the first year of production.

Customers will even be able to opt for a new satin protective film to make the exterior paintwork even more durable. The sustainable, solvent-free and completely recyclable wrap helps protect against everything from car park scratches to bramble rash and will be available as a factory-fit option with Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone and Pangea Green colours.

In addition to the accessory packs, the new Defender is available with the widest choice of individual accessories ever assembled for a new Land Rover, with everything from a remote control electric winch, rooftop, inflatable waterproof awnings to more conventional tow bar systems and roof racks.

The Defender seems to have all the right ingredients to make it a truly extraordinary car in all environments, we certainly cannot wait to take it off the beaten track, to see if this is in fact true.

Pricing for the Defender 110 is set to start from R910 400, while it is expected that the 90 will retail from R830 300 when it is launched later in 2020.