Land Rover Defender review

The new Land Rover Defender gets under our skin...

Pros: Looks, comfort, refinement, go-anywhere ability

Cons: Not cheap to buy

There’s been a four-year gap between the old Defender ceasing production and the launch of an all-new model, but the difference between the new and old feels much bigger than that. The new car shares nothing but its name and heritage with the original, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of the badge.

Land Rover Defender Design

You don’t need to be a Land Rover expert to know that you’re looking at the new Defender, as its design features lots of nods to the first generation. Check out the upright rear end with its side-hinged door, for example, and the “Alpine” skylights in the roof. Nonetheless, the new car is significantly larger than the old one in most directions (not height, interestingly) and it effectively dwarfs its ancestor. Indeed, it dwarfs a lot of other cars on the road, too, adding to its considerable presence. That can be enhanced further if you spend even more on the various customisation packs and accessories. Here we’re testing the five-door ‘110’ model, but there’s a three-door ‘90’ variant on the way, too, and a commercial version of both body styles.

New Land Rover Defender Ireland

Land Rover Defender Interior

Those big exterior dimensions translate into a spacious interior. The Defender 110 is a five-seat vehicle by default, with loads of room in all directions for up to five adults, front and rear, plus a big boot. Buyers can also specify a ‘jump seat’ in place of the regular centre console up front, or a ‘5+2’ configuration for extra rear seating. Land Rover has given the Defender a rugged looking cabin, but it’s just as well-appointed as its other cars, in terms of a widescreen touchscreen infotainment system, digital instrumentation and a sense of high quality. This feels more like a luxury SUV than a workhorse off-roader, that’s for sure.

New Land Rover Defender Interior

Land Rover Defender Performance & Drive

At launch, all versions of the Defender use a (well-calibrated) automatic gearbox and full-time four-wheel drive. There are four- and six-cylinder petrol engines to consider, with 300- and 400hp outputs, respectively, but most Irish buyers are likely to stick with diesel for now. Land Rover offers a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine in 200- and 240hp guises and really, the Defender needs the latter to live up to expectations. With that engine under the bonnet, it’s quick to respond at low speeds and cruises quietly, though it’s not the most civil engine when you’re tackling low-speed hills, for example. Nonetheless, the Defender is notably hushed and refined on the move, further emphasising how different it is to its predecessor.

Air suspension is standard, which makes for exceptional comfort at all speeds and, it seems, over all surfaces. It also allows for various ride heights to be chosen, depending on the driver’s needs. Somewhat surprisingly, the Defender, while optimised for comfort, is also quite fun to drive along a twisty road, thanks to a well-modulated brake pedal and good steering. On top of all that, the Defender makes it extremely easy for any driver to tackle seriously tricky terrain when needed.

Land Rover Defender Ireland

Land Rover Defender Pricing

At the time of writing, pricing for the Defender starts at €59,410. That’s for the entry-level ‘90’ model with the 200hp diesel engine. The five-door 110 starts at €68,160. The core trim levels are called Defender, S, SE and HSE, while buyers with more to spend may be interested in the First Edition and Defender 110 X variants as well. And, if you still have money to burn, the sky is the limit for accessories.

Land Rover Defender Price

Carzone Verdict 4.5/5

Allowing for the fact that the new Defender is expensive to buy, and that there’s nothing special about its four-cylinder diesel engines, it’s still difficult not to be charmed by it. The design, inside and out, are appealing, for sure, but beyond that, it feels like it will take anything you throw at it in its stride, from a two-week holiday with the family in tow and their bikes strapped to the roof to a cross-continent blast with your mates to a remote ski chalet. Call it marketing spiel if you want, but it’s the kind of car that encourages you to go out and look for adventures. The thing is, it’s also rather good at the day to day stuff. For those that can afford the price of entry, it’s simply brilliant.

Land Rover Defender Review

Test Car Details:  

Model driven: Land Rover Defender 110 D240 S

Price: €81,720 before options

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel

Transmission: automatic

Annual motor tax: €1,200

0-100km/h: 9.1 seconds

Power: 240hp

Boot space: 1,075-2,380 litres

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