Land Rover Defender Review

Andy Brady

Written by

Andy Brady

Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

1/10

1 / 10

00/10
heycar rating
"Rugged 4x4 with modern twist"
  • Launched: 2020
  • SUV
  • Petrol, Diesel, Plug-in Hybrid

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Quick overview

Pros

  • Long-awaited new Land Rover Defender
  • Wide range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines
  • Loads of optional accessories

Cons

  • Traditionalists will hate it
  • Land Rover doesn’t have the best reliability record
  • It’s not cheap...

Overall verdict

On the inside

Driving

Cost to run

Prices and Specs

Overall verdict

"Replacing the original Land Rover Defender is a challenge that could be likened to giving Coronation Street a millennial revamp, or putting a modern twist on the traditional roast dinner. It’s not a task that should be taken lightly - and, no matter what you do, it’ll attract more than its fair share of criticism."

Land Rover Defender 110  frontleft exterior

That explains why we’ve been waiting so long for the latest Land Rover Defender. The final example of the last model rolled off the Solihull production line in 2016 - tracing its roots all the way back to the original 1948 Land-Rover Series 1. Since then, Land Rover’s been trying to strike the right balance between old and new. It wants to appeal to its traditional enthusiast and rural clientele, yet also bring in fresh buyers that would ordinarily be buying a Mercedes-Benz G-Class.


The new model, revealed in 2020, will be built in Slovakia and is unmistakably Defender. It’s got a distinctive silhouette, with a boxy outline and a spare wheel on the rear door. It’s more modern than before - much more modern than before - with high-spec models getting matrix LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof.


The interior is dominated by a crossbeam running along the width of the car, while a 10-inch infotainment screen sits on the centre console. The Defender is more technologically advanced than the old model (which is a bit like saying the Tesla Model 3 is more technologically advanced than a Morris Minor).


Land Rover says its new Pivi Pro infotainment system is more intuitive and user-friendly than previous versions, with instant responses and requiring fewer inputs to perform frequently used tasks. Most models also come with a fancy 12.3-inch interactive driver display which sits behind the steering wheel, allowing the driver to switch between navigation and conventional dials or a combination of the two. Meanwhile, over-the-air updates will ensure the latest Land Rover Defender is always kept up-to-date.


The Defender 110 model range consists of S, SE, HSE, First Edition and top of the range Defender X models. All are well-equipped, with higher-spec models in particular having a much more premium feel than owners of the old Defender could ever dream of. But then, higher-spec models will cost you in the region of £80,000...


Customers will also be able to personalise their vehicle in more ways than any previous Land Rover with four distinct accessory packs. The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban packs each give Defender a distinct character with a specially selected range of modifications. On top of this, there are no fewer than 170 individual accessories available - ranging from a side-mounted gear carrier to an electric winch and rooftop tent.


From launch, the Defender 110’s diesel engine line-up consists of two four-cylinder units producing 200 or 240PS, badged the D200 and D240 respectively. Both are paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and each produces 430Nm of torque.


A P300 2.0-litre petrol is also available, producing 300PS and 400Nm, while a mild-hybrid P400 tops the range. This 3.0-litre engine will take the Defender to 62mph in 6.4 seconds, while top speed is quoted as 129mph. A 48-volt lithium-ion battery stores energy captured during braking, helping the P400 return up to 25.2mpg. A plug-in hybrid model is set to follow in 2021. 


Of course, being a Defender, the latest 110 is loaded with clever technology to ensure it’ll never get stuck off-road. All models come with four-wheel-drive, naturally, with Terrain Response - Land Rover’s off-road system which tweaks vehicle settings depending on the terrain (sand or mud, for example).


Air suspension is also standard on the 110, along with a 3D surround camera which can provide an augmented visualisation when wading deep water or reversing a trailer.


A full verdict will follow, but the new Defender is one of the most exciting new cars of 2020. Not everyone will like it, but its brashness is part of its appeal. And at least it retains some off-road credibility.


Is the Land Rover Defender right for you?

We’ll wait until we’ve driven the new Land Rover Defender for a full verdict, but the Defender is already flying out of showrooms. If you’d like a modern interpretation of a British off-roading icon, the new Defender’s the car for you.

What’s the best Land Rover Defender model/engine to choose?

The First Edition models will be the most desirable, but which model you choose will depend on how upmarket you’d like your Defender to be. Engine-wise, we’d go for one of the six-cylinder diesels. They provide a useful amount of extra grunt compared to the four-cylinder units, but will be more frugal than the petrol options. If you don't need such a big car, consider the short-wheelbase version, badged the Land Rover Defender 90.

What other cars are similar to the Land Rover Defender?

The obvious rivals include the Mercedes-Benz G-Class and Jeep Wrangler. You could also consider the Suzuki Jimny, if you fancy a cute retro off-roader, while more affordable workhorses include the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navara. In truth, the latest Defender is probably more of an alternative to premium SUVs, like the Land Rover Discovery, Toyota Land Cruiser and even the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90.

Comfort and design

"The new Land Rover Defender 110 manages to combine modern touches with a rugged approach to interior design. Land Rover says that structural elements and fixings usually hidden from view have been exposed, with the emphasis on simplicity and practicality."

Land Rover Defender 110  front interior

The new Land Rover Defender 110 manages to combine modern touches with a rugged approach to interior design. Land Rover says that structural elements and fixings usually hidden from view have been exposed, with the emphasis on simplicity and practicality.


There’s a clever dash-mounted gear shifter, which allows space for an optional central front ‘jump’ seat which allows three-abreast seating - just like an old Land Rover.


Quality and finish

We’re yet to sit in a new Defender and prod around the interior, but we expect it to be leagues ahead of the old model in this regard.

Infotainment

The Land Rover Defender 110 uses a new 10-inch Pivi Pro infotainment screen. Most models also come with a fancy 12.3-inch interactive driver display which sits behind the steering wheel, allowing the driver to switch between navigation and conventional dials or a combination of the two. Meanwhile, over-the-air updates will ensure the latest Land Rover Defender is always kept up-to-date.

Space and practicality

The Land Rover Defender 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations, with a loadspace behind the second-row seats of up to 1075 litres, and as much as 2390 litres when the second row is folded.



Handling and ride quality

"Despite being a big four-wheel-drive, it’s fair to assume that the new Defender will handle better than the old model.

Land Rover Defender 110  frontright exterior

It’ll still be immensely capable off-road, though, with no shortage of clever systems designed to keep you moving.

Engines and gearboxes

At launch, the petrol line-up comprises a four-cylinder P300 and a powerful six-cylinder P400 featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology. Alternatively, customers can choose from a pair of four-cylinder diesels – the D200 and powerful D240.




Refinement and noise levels

‘Refinement’ used to be a dirty word in Defender circles, but the new model should be infinitely more refined than the old model.

Safety equipment

The new Land Rover Defender is yet to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but we’d be surprised if it achieved anything less than five stars.

MPG and fuel costs

"Under WLTP combined fuel economy tests, the Defender 110 D200 and D240 both return up to 31.7mpg."

Land Rover Defender 110  right exterior

The petrol P300 returns 24.7mpg, while the P400 MHEV sees 25.2mpg.

Insurance groups and costs

Insurance groups are to be confirmed.

VED car tax

After the first year, the Land Rover Defender 110 will cost £150 a year in tax, plus the £325/year premium car tax for the following five years. The mild-hybrid P400 will get a £10 reduction.

How much should you be paying for a used Land Rover Defender?

"Prices for the new Land Rover Defender 110 start from £45,600."

Land Rover Defender 110 right exterior

There is also the shorter wheelbase Defender 90 version which should be cheaper.

Trim levels and standard equipment

Highlights of the standard Land Rover Defender include LED headlights, a body-coloured roof and a heated windscreen, as well as 18-inch steel wheels with all-season tyres. It gets heated eight-way adjustable front seats, while infotainment comes in the form of a 10-inch navigation system. There’s a whole heap of driver assistance features, ranging from Land Rover’s Terrain Response off-road system to cruise control and a 360-degree parking camera.


The Defender S adds automatic high-beam assist and 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there’s a leather steering wheel and gearshift, as well as a centre console armrest. The seats are part-leather, heated affairs with 12-way adjustment.


The Defender SE comes with premium LED headlights with signature daytime running lights, front fog lights and keyless entry. The exterior looks a bit more upmarket, thanks to body-coloured door handles and 20-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there’s Land Rover’s clever digital rear-view mirror, as well as an electric steering column and electric memory front seats. The SE also gets a premium Meridian sound system with 10 speakers, while additional driver assistance tech is provided in the form of blind-spot assist.


The high-spec Defender HSE comes with a sliding panoramic roof and matrix LED headlights. The wheels are 20-inch dark grey alloys, while the Driver Assist pack is standard. The interior gets a heated steering wheel and extended leather upgrade.


The fully-loaded Defender X features a bold appearance, including a black contrast roof and bonnet, satin chrome exterior accents, orange brake calipers, rear recovery eyes and darkened tail lights - as well as 20-inch dark grey alloy wheels.


The interior gets a walnut veneer and premium cabin lighting, as well as heated rear seats and Windsor leather upholstery. There’s a Meridien surround sound system and a head-up display. Off-road highlights include Terrain Response 2 and an electronic active differential.


The limited-run Defender First Edition features a black contrast roof (with a sliding panoramic sunroof) and Matrix LED headlights. There’s keyless entry, privacy glass and 20-inch silver alloy wheels with all-season tyres. The interior gets a heated leather steering wheel, a refrigerated compartment in the centre console, the ClearSight interior rear-view mirror and a domestic plug socket as well as 12-way electrically-adjustable heated seats. The Meridian sound system is standard, as well as a long list of driver assistance features including blind-spot assist, a 360-degree camera, wade sensing and lane-keep assist.


Land Rover Defender cars for sale on heycar

2,305
Number of cars available
£37K - £130K
Price bracket of these cars
SilverGrey+ 6 more
Colours available on heycar
5 doors3 doors
Door options available

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