Land Rover Defender review: The new goes big on size, luxury and heart

This one's a naturalist at heart, ready to trudge through muck and mire, and does a fine job in the city as well (parking excluded)

landrover defender in water

The year was 1948 and as India rose to a year of freedom, the first Land Rover landed at the Amsterdam Motor Show. The marvels that rolled out of the company’s assembly line have come to be synonymous with off-roading. 

As the early Land Rovers landed on Indian shores, the fantasy of taking one of these for a spin across the off-roading havens of the country became a more palatable fantasy. The 2020 Land Rover Defender is the newest entrant in the ever-evolving story of the JLR flagship, upping the exterior design qualities and interior comforts. 

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The new Defender rolls in measuring 5 meters in length and a ground clearance of 219mm. Now that that’s put your doubts of its durability in the big bad outdoors to rest, let's turn your attention to the stoic 3-door configuration that makes it perfect for a large family outing or a weekend getaway with any amount of gear in tow. 

Getting into the Defender is like climbing into the driving seat of a truck, which automatically gets you to acknowledge its massive and solid form. The exterior design doesn’t dress up any frills, with straight lines and a matter-of-fact demeanour that makes it look extremely determined to beat the odds. 

landrover defender desert

On the inside, however, is another story altogether. You can make your ascent into this giant a little easier by switching to the Ascend Mode, which makes the car drop some of the suspension. 

The windows give you ample visibility from a vantage point, with the A-pillars designed to give the best views of your surroundings. The surfaces in the cabin are coated with rubber, leather trims, and a mix of wooden and aluminium accents. 

A 10-inch infotainment system caters to your digital and entertainment needs with a 360-degree camera. The ClearSight inner view camera is extremely useful since the headrests of the seats do not give you the best view of the rear area. The front seats are 12-way powered to give you the most comfortable seating choices, while the two-zone climate control system keeps you cool and comfortable. The third row isn’t ideal for adults so it’s best used for storage. Dropping it down increases the rear storage to a massive 916 litres. 

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So how does it do on the road? The Land Rover Defender is a naturalist at heart, ready to trudge through muck and mire, but it does a fine job in the city as well (parking excluded). It comes with a 2-litre, 4-cylinder Ingenium turbo-petrol engine that produces 296bhp and 400Nm of torque. 

Even with its size and weight of 2.3 tonnes, it manages to go from 0 to 100 kmph in just 8.1 seconds. The 8-speed transmission and soft steering response makes the Defender fun to drive, unlike many of its self-acclaimed off-road contemporaries. 

For the rougher drives, Land Rover’s Terrain Response System kicks with the locking centre differential and active rear-locking differential. The digital instrument cluster is highly customisable so that you can highlight your preferences and priorities depending on the kind of drive you are out on.

landrover defender off roading

The Land Rover Defender had big shoes to fill, with a 7-decade legacy bearing down on its wide and steady shoulders. A purist may flinch at the luxuries and technology infused within the cabin and find that the engine could be a tad less modest. But it is this day and age that demands generous sprinkles of luxury and ‘smartness’ from anything that pushes the price bracket. Whether it’s a trip with friends to the movies or a solo spin across off-roading tracks, the Defender has you covered. 

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Engine: 1997 cc, turbocharged petrol

landrover defender interiors

Transmission:  8-speed automatic, AWD

Power: 296.3bhp@5500rpm / 400nm@1500-4000rpm

Top speed: 199kmph

landrover defender integrated compressor

0-100kmph: 8 seconds

Price:  Rs76.57 lakh (ex-showroom)

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