Land Rover Defender 110 (2020) Review
Land Rover Defender 110 (2020) At A Glance
The 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 is leagues ahead of its predecessor in almost every way. Not only is it a comfortable SUV, loaded with technology and surprisingly good to drive, it remains immensely practical and unstoppable off road. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate 4x4 for weekend adventures, or simply want a fashionable SUV, the new Defender is a very strong choice indeed.
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The Defender brand name is synonymous with adventure. It’s more than just a car: it’s a workhorse, fashion statement and modern classic all rolled into one.
Or at least the old model was. With roots tracing back to 1948 (the Defender name has been used since 1991), it was - objectively - well past its use-by date once production ended in January 2016. It was noisy, uncomfortable and hard work to drive on road (although brilliant off it).
A replacement finally arrived in 2020. While enthusiasts will scorn its long list of electronic driver aids, comfortable seats and a lack of manual transmission, it’s much better in almost every way and - in our opinion - fully deserving of the Defender badge.
So, where do we start? Let’s tackle the thorny issue of the price. The Land Rover Defender 110 isn’t a budget 4x4 (hopefully the upcoming Ineos Grenadier will cater for that market), but it’s priced competitively against cars like the Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes-Benz G-Class and Toyota Land Cruiser. WIth prices starting in the region of £45,000, you could even look at it as an alternative to the Land Rover Discovery.
Buyers get a choice of petrol and diesel engines for now, with a plug-in hybrid set to follow in 2021. Diesel power is offered in the form of a 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 200 or 240PS, while buyers can also opt for a 2.0-litre petrol with 300PS. Topping the range is the 3.0-litre straight-six mild-hybrid, which produces 400PS.
All engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which actually suits the car’s character well - even if some traditional Defender buyers would prefer to take control themselves. Of course, being a Defender, all models come with permanent four-wheel-drive, a low-range gearbox and no fewer than three locking differentials.
The result is a 4x4 that’s incredible capable off-road. Land Rover’s Terrain Response system takes a lot of the effort out of off-road driving, along with features like the 3D surround camera and ClearSight Ground View (which essentially allows you to ‘see through’ the bonnet).
But it’s also surprisingly good on road. It almost feels as comfortable as a Discovery for long motorway journeys, happy to sit at 80mph (when on the continent) without too much intrusive wind, road or engine noise. And it remains fairly composed on rural roads - the air suspension (standard on all 110 models) means it feels much less choppy than the old model, and it’s much less boat-like through the bends.
It’s hugely practical, with an enormous boot (especially when you drop the rear seats), and up to seven seats available. It’s best used as a five-seater, but thee’s plenty of head and legroom for front and rear passengers. While it’s not as luxurious as premium SUVs like the Audi Q7, it feels significantly plusher than before - without losing any of its rugged charm.
There are loads of personalisation options available, including four distinct accessory packs (Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban) as well as 170 individual accessories. You can make it look as cool or as rugged as you want, with Land Rover even offering an optional roof tent for weekend adventures.
Sure, the Land Rover Defender is a controversial car. Some will have decided they didn’t like it before it was even revealed, and you’re not going to take it apart with a socket set like you could the old model. But it needed to move on, and it’s retained an awful lot of character while also making serious progress in terms of technology and refinement. We like it a lot.