New Land Rover Defender is finally here – and it looks like a Defender. Some had feared it would be thoroughly modernised, perhaps even streamlined. But that would have created a storm of complaints from those defending the Defender and thankfully it didn’t happen.

To quote Land Rover design chief, Gerry McGovern: “The new Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it. This is a new Defender for a New Age.”

The model names are as before: 110 and 90, but these numbers no longer indicate the wheelbase in inches. The 110 is the only model of offer at this stage, the 90 will be introduced in at a date yet to be announced in 2020.

Land Rover’s new purpose-engineered D7x (‘x’ for extreme) architecture is based on a lightweight aluminium monocoque construction to create the stiffest body structure Land Rover has ever produced. It is three times stiffer than traditional body-on-frame designs.

During development testing, prototype models have covered millions of 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. No mention of Australia, though…


Configurable Terrain Response lets experienced off-roaders to fine-tune individual vehicle settings to suit the conditions. Inexperienced drivers can let the system detect the most appropriate vehicle settings for the terrain using the intelligent Auto function.

New Defender has ground clearance of 291mm and the 110 has approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees (Off Road height) respectively. Maximum wading depth of 900mm is supported by a new Wade programme in the Terrain Response 2 system.

A fascinating feature is Land Rover’s advanced ClearSight Ground View technology. Using cameras it shows the area usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen.

Cleverly, there’s a dash-mounted gear shifter to accommodate an optional central front ‘jump’ seat, which provides three-abreast seating across the front – just like the early Land Rovers.

As a result, the Defender 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations. The Defender 90 will be able to accommodate six occupants.


At launch there’s a six-cylinder P400 (297kW), featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology and a pair of four-cylinder diesels; the D200 (147kW) and D240 (177kW). In a sign of the times, a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) powertrain will join the range in 2020 providing the prospect of silent EV-only progress.

New Defender introduces Land Rover’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system, with a touchscreen that’s intuitive and user-friendly, requiring fewer inputs to perform frequently used tasks.

The model range comprises Defender, First Edition and top of the range Defender X models, as well as standard S, SE, HSE specification packs.

Customers can personalise their vehicle with four Accessory Packs. The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs.

Nick Rogers, Executive Director, Product Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We’ve embraced Defender’s stunning capability and minimalistic, functional interior to reinvent the icon for the 21st century. New Defender gives us the licence to do things differently, to push the boundaries and do the unthinkable, without ever losing the character and authenticity of the original.”

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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