Land Rover has never shied away from letting its SUVs take the beating of various journalists from around the world. The British brand has always been confident about its products, particularly with its all-new Defender. With the Defender, Land Rover wants to prove to the world that its all-new D7X monocoque chassis is way more capable than the old body-on-frame chassis that underpinned all the old Land Rovers. There are certain Defender fans who’ve scoffed at the idea of an aluminium chassis but Land Rover promises that it’s better in every aspect.
The Land Rover Defender stands like a mountain in front of other cars on the road. It is also taller than many luxury SUVs, particularly when the air suspension have been raised to the maximum. There may be a lot of straight lines giving it a boxy look but its upright stance tells you this SUV means business. There are some mildly curved body panels and smooth surfaces that give it a modern persona and thank fully, help it look nothing like the original from many years ago. The Land Rover Defender also gets a lot of nice detailing around. It gets very short overhangs for good off-road capability and it looks rather nice too. Land Rover Cars have equipped the Defender with 20-inch alloy wheels, wrapped with massive Good Year all-terrain tyres; this also helps in making it look planted. The only idea that has been carried over from the Defenders of old, is the tailgate-mounted spare wheel.
Climb up, please
You realise how tall the Land Rover Defender is, the moment you climb into it. Even in Access mode, the air suspension is brought to its lowest setting, but you still end up climbing in. If you love big SUVs but don’t want to too much of attention, then the Defender might be a bit of a disappointment given the fact the step up into the SUV is going to be quite a funny sight, particularly if you’re being seen at a club. However, once you’re seated inside, you get a view that no other SUV is likely to have. All-round visibility is excellent, thanks largely to the amount of glass area available, upright A-pillars and a low window line. Driving it through traffic might seem impossible at first, but with the view you have from the driver’s seat, it’s not difficult to navigate your way through. The cabin is a wonderful place to spend your time in; the best part being, it looks rugged but is also luxurious. There are some exposed screw heads on the doors and some rubber surfaces that hint at its rugged intent. Then there’s the double-stitched leather and other aluminium and wooden bits that hint at luxury. There’s a huge shelf on the dashboard that’s capable of storing a lot of stuff. There’s plenty of storage around, including the massive glovebox and the central storage box. When it comes to luggage room, with all three rows up, you get only 160 litres of boot space. The third row is very tight on room; even kids will have to squeeze in with effort. The middle-row, on the other hand, is very comfortable with ample legroom and headroom on offer. The seats offer good support and the seat being perched high-up, passengers get a good view outside.
Not a car, but an SUV
Land Rover Cars have given the Defender a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine developing 295bhp for the Indian market. So the Defender is solely available with a base P300 petrol version. Flow the throttle and the Defender will gradually pick up pace without being lethargic. So it isn’t super quick either. And this can be expected of an SUV of its heft. There is some turbo lag, but power deliver is linear, making it a seamless drive. Road and wind noise are kept at bay, which only has us imagine how well insulated the cabin is. Overtaking is not the Defender’s forte, if you like sedate speeds, then the Defender is up to the task. Also, the 8-speed ZF automatic always ensures you’re in the right gear. The SUV feels shockingly good to drive on the road, despite its sheer girth. The steering feels accurate, well-weighted and surprisingly direct, which results in carrying high speeds with confidence. Body roll was expected around bends, but the body control is so good, you don’t feel you’re about to keel over.