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All-New Land Rover Defender

By Shereen Shabnam

Across the world, amongst the most passionate of off-road enthusiasts, no other vehicle has the legendary status as the Land Rover Defender. My childhood memories of river splashing in the Fiji Islands in robust Defenders of the past to feeling the adrenaline rush bashing the desert dunes of the Middle East over the last 20 years, Land Rover has always made me feel at home wherever I travelled to because of its nomadic DNA that I very much relate to as an expat and an avid traveller.

In my family, a Defender is the most trusted off-road companion for getting home to the scenic hills in the Coral Coast or the Nausori Highlands while in the UAE, it is ideal for braving unchartered territories, discovering the different parts different Emirates and the neighbouring Oman.

In the UAE, there are six models to choose from – Defender, S, SE, HSE, First Edition or Defender X. The New Defender is available in 90 and 110 body designs, with up to six seats in the 90 and the option of five, six or 5+2 seating in the 110. The Four Accessory Packs offered (Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban) gives the buyers choices for specially selected enhancements.

The new Defender combines over seven decades of innovation. While fans of the iconic 4X4 were initially cynical given the change in the exterior design language, driving it recently across the Northern Emirates made me feel that it is just as capable on the dunes, navigating the wadis or driving it to the mountain peaks.  The Defender has certainly caught the attention of fellow Jury of International car Awards and captured hearts of adventurers globally.  

In the past, the hardy Defenders were trusted modes of transport across UAE’s tough desert landscape with their legendary all-terrain capability. My drive in the new Defender proved that the DNA of the new model savours the legacy of the Defender family and remains tougher than ever under the softer looking edgier hood while offering the driver new levels of comfort and driveability. The legendary Land Rover 4×4 capabilities, superior ride, revolutionary design, innovative technology and safety features continue to impress.

There is an emphasis on simplicity and practicality in the new Defender. Among the innovative features is the Configurable Terrain Response allowing experienced off-roaders to fine-tune individual vehicle settings to perfectly suit the conditions, while inexperienced drivers can let the system detect the most appropriate vehicle settings for the terrain, using the intelligent ‘Auto’ function.

Land Rover’s advanced 3D Surround Camera system, ClearSight Ground View technology helps drivers take full advantage of the Defender’s all-conquering capability by showing the area usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen. This was useful on our drive in Ras Al Khaimah.

The high-definition Interactive Driver Display offers a wide range of relevant information, entertainment and driver assistance data, including full-screen 3D map-view navigation, phone and media. The Dynamic route assistance proposed alternative routes on our way back as faster ones became available.

I loved the fact that USB points or 12V power sockets are available on every row. A loadspace plug socket mounted in the loadspace side wall, allowing passengers to power multiple devices.

At first sight I was not sure of the new design but the distinctive silhouette and the modern take grew on me especially when I looked back at my interview with the Designer at the Dubai Motor Show, who pointed to the familiar Defender trademarks that meet the needs for the 21st century.

The new Defender still has solid shoulders and powerful squared-off wheel arches that communicate the vehicle’s purposeful stance. From behind, the vehicle looks modern and yet details like the side-hinged rear tailgate with externally mounted full-size spare wheel and characterful tail lights all point to Defender’s distinctive nature.

As the most capable and tough vehicle needs robust tyres, Land Rover Defender is equipped with 815mm diameter tyres as standard. They improve ground clearance, off-road geometry and traction with increased sidewall depth making the vehicle less prone to punctures and withstand damage.

Engine & Capability

There is achoice of advanced engines to ensure the vehicle has the power and control to navigate any environment. There are  two 4-cylinder diesels, a D200 or D240. And two petrols, a 4-cylinder P300 or  a powerful 6-cylinder P400, each optimised for specific attributes to cater for all needs. It also boasts All Wheel Drive, Twin-speed Transfer Box, Terrain Response
and Electronic Air Suspension with Adaptive Dynamics.

Overall Thoughts

The original Series and Defender models have long been relied upon by a diverse group of motorists to stand up to the region’s testing terrain. The best way to feel the toughness of the new defender is by heading to Al Tayer Motors showrooms for a test drive. Starting price, inclusive of VAT, of the

Defender 90 is AED 229,000 and Defender 110 is AED 244,230.

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