We will be getting the 110 Long Wheelbase version of the Land Rover Defender here in India and the first batch will be imported before it eventually starts local production.
The Defender is one of the most iconic cars that Land Rover has ever produced. Sadly, the original Defender which was an off-roading icon was never on sale in India. Now however, Land Rover has rekindled the Defender name plate and guess what, its coming to India in 2020. We will get the long wheelbase 110 version here in India. The first batch of Defenders will be imported as a luxury off-roader in the country but JLR will eventually start local production just as they did with the Discovery Sport and the Evoque.
The new-gen Defender was introduced at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show and its available in two interations – a short wheelbase, two-door 90 version and a long wheelbase, four-door 110 version. We will be getting the latter one. The new Defender is however not utilitarian and a sole off-roader anymore. It very much modern with lots of tech and sophistication and ironically, has turned out to be more of a luxury SUV. That was never what the Defender was about but it sure still is pleasant.
Well, it beautifully retains the old world charm in the form of its boxy profile but hey, look at the details and its every bit modern. The overall boxy profile is then rounded off with smooth curves and lines which gives it quite some sophistication. The butch looking hood, wide wheel arches, and the Alpine windows have all been retained from its predecessor. The short front and rear overhangs, the flat panels and glass area, are all reminiscent of the original icon.
It was always going to be a huge task for Land Rover to revive the icon that the Defender is for the 21st century. You can also trace elements from the predecessor in those round LED DRLs within those square headlamp housing. The wing mirrors are also square. Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern explains, “It has a silhouette even a child could draw, but there’s nothing simple about it – especially the surfaces, which at first glance look quite raw and elemental, but they are in fact incredibly sophisticated”. Some exposed bolts and hinges and particularly the clamshell bonnet complete off the rugged look.
On the inside, its a whole new story here as well. The dashboard is properly modern and contemporary but retains the Defender’s boxy and rugged design language. The exposed bolts on the interior are a particular nice touch. There’s a 10-inch infotainment display on a single piece dashboard with an all digital 12-inch instrument cluster and it now comes with JLR’s latest software which is much more user friendly than before.
Thankfully, there are physical buttons for the climate controls and other vehicle settings, well put together on a small stack ahead of the infotainment screen along with the gear lever. The way the AC vents have been integrated above the dashboard is also a very nice design element. The riveted grab handles on the passenger side remind you of the true purpose of this SUV.
But all this sophistication aside, the Defender is a true off-roader. For this purpose, it gets a huge 291mm ground clearance, a 38-degree approach angle and 40-degree departure angle. Water-wading depth is an incredible 900mm. Unlike the Jeep Wrangler which uses a ladder-frame chassis, the Defender uses an aluminum monocoque chassis which they say is the stiffest they have ever produced. Other mechanical bits include a permanent all-wheel drive system, a low- range transmission, locking central differential and active rear locking differential.
To be a Defender for the 21st Century, it has to be really good on the road as well. It cannot afford to pass off only as an off-roader like the original Defender. It comes with a choice of independent air or coil-spring suspension. There are three driving modes for the throttle and gearbox sensitivity as well. While the new Defender has been launched with a range of petrol and diesel engines, the ones first coming to India will likely be the four-cylinder P300 petrol with 300hp and a 0-100kph time of 8.1sec, and the 240hp D240 diesel that does 0-100 in 9.1sec. When launched in India, the Defender will cost about Rs. 55-60 lakhs and while its not cheap, there isn’t anything quite like it either here in India.