Land Rover Defender

90 SE 250

Land Rover Defender 90 V8, 2021, side, action
Land Rover Defender 90 V8, 2021, action, off road
Land Rover Defender 90, 2020, interior
Land Rover Defender 90, 2020, display screen
Land Rover Defender 90, 2020, boot

THE original Land Rover Defender was with us for more than seven decades and it became a British and global icon.

It was seen in hot spots all over the world bringing aid to those who needed it most, being used by our armed forces and by the police, mountain rescue teams and fire and ambulance services.

It was finally killed off a few years ago by its high manufacturing costs and dated engines but it is still sought after and deserves all the affection still lavished on it.

It must have been a huge challenge for the Land Rover team to produce a replacement and although it shares the name it is a completely modern take on the rugged original and sadly is no longer even built in the UK.

Now manufactured in Slovakia it certainly retains the ability to go anywhere and tackle the roughest terrain but it now offers a completely different driving experience as well as luxury fittings and tech found in Range Rover and Discovery models.

Some die-hard fans of the original will not be won over by the newcomer and it will never enjoy the same longevity or affection but it is still a vast improvement and a much more refined vehicle.

In this smaller 90 form it does share some of the characteristics of the old-timer but it will now compete for sales with premium SUVs rather than pick-up trucks.

The new Defender allows you to travel in comfort - you could never say that about previous models - and it also provides a quiet and surprisingly dynamic driving experience. It is also just as good off-road as anything else you can buy.

The short-wheel based Defender 90 is certainly a looker and attracts a great deal of attention and it does feature a number of the originals styling touches like the hinged rear door with spare tyre attached, an upright windscreen, boxy shape and circular headlights.

That's where the resemblance ends as the interior of the 90 is now very modern and crammed with the latest technology and creature comforts. It also boasts all the latest safety equipment while remaining tough.

There is a price to pay and the Defender 90 line-up is priced from £43,625 to £75,275, and there is a hard top commercial model costing £42,920 for business buyers.

There is a number of trim levels called Defender, Defender S, Defender SE, Defender HSE, Defender X-Dynamic, Defender X-Dynamic S, Defender X-Dynamic SE, Defender X-Dynamic HSE, Defender First Edition and finally, the Defender X.

Coil springs are standard but you can add the excellent air suspension sampled for £1,615 more.

You can choose from 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre petrol units and 3.0-litre diesel engines with varying power outputs. All models have automatic transmissions and all-wheel drive.

I sampled the 90 in SE trim with the 250hp 3.0-litre diesel engine. It is good enough to take the Defender to 62mph in just 7.6 seconds and offers a top speed of 117mph.

According to the latest WLTP figures it will do between 24.1 and 40.7mpg with an average return of 33mpg with emissions at 244g/km.

The interior is clutter-free and features grab handles for passengers to hold on to when tackling rough terrain and the floor has rubber mats instead of carpets. A central touchscreen for the tech stuff is supported by some regular switches and dials.

Tech includes full smartphone connectivity, a 3D surround camera, two-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, heated, powered seats and a whole lot more.

The digital display screen can be personalised to show sat nav directions or off-road data.

The 8-speed automatic gearbox provides rapid and smooth acceleration and the ride is cushioned and stable on all surfaces.

The new Defender features the company's Terrain response system and the various modes allow the vehicle to tackle just about anything with exterior cameras to keep the driver informed of their surrounds.

It is still difficult to climb into the rear seats and the boot space with the rear seats in place is not very good but that said it is a huge improvement over the much-loved old bone-shaker all be it at a price as when options were added to the SE it took the final tally to over £61,000.

FAST FACTS

Land Rover Defender 90 SE 250

Price:£51,205

Mechanical:250bhp, 2,996cc, 6-cyl diesel engine driving all 4 wheels via 8-spd automatic gearbox

Max Speed:117mph

0-62mph: 7.6secs

Combined MPG: 32.8

Insurance Group:36

C02 emissions:244g/km

Bik rating:37%

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