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Review: First look inside the all-new Land Rover Defender

Few cars in automotive history have a recall value as high as the Land Rover Defender. This is possibly the most iconic and historic of SUVs out there, creating waves since it was unveiled 70 years ago. Most things ‘luxury’ just never go out of style, and case in point is this able-bodied vehicle, which makes a massive comeback in a stunningly luxurious avatar.

In a pre-launch preview of the Defender, whose original name was the Land Rover, I got to spend some quality time with the car. I attempted to understand how the British carmaker could rise up to the challenge of taking a historic product, known for its rugged ‘mud and ruts’ image, and kit it out such that it is now considered to be the most technologically advanced SUV in the market. The Land Rover was first built in 1947 and was made in aluminium; it was loosely inspired by the World War 2 Jeep. Over the years, it was associated with military and essential services owing to its capacity to ‘rove’ any kind of land. In the ‘70s, it was rechristened as the Defender and has been driven by the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill and Marilyn Monroe.

Land Rover Defender

No surprise, then, that this is possibly one of the most awaited launches of the year. Jaguar Land Rover has launched the Defender in India in Completely Built Units, in a host of highly customisable formats, ranging from the three-door Defender 90 variant to the five-door Defender 110.

After spending a couple of hours with this gorgeous car, here’s what we loved most about it.

The Looks

The Defender is absolutely gorgeous. At first glance, the new design (I tested out a matte grey First Edition) looks almost futuristic, but the historic design cues of the original Land Rover are visible — the boxy allure, the horizontal and vertical lines, the prominent shoulder and waist lines, and finally the distinctly upright rear end with a massive spare tire that adds that rugged touch. The car definitely has a stunning presence, and will surely be a head-turner on and off city roads.

The massive 20-inch steel wheels add to the heft of this car  — just to give you an idea, my friend was able to stick his head between the tire and the wheel arch, in jest, to get a sense of its massive road clearance. The Alpine lights (long skylights at the top of the rear cabin) are a nod to the original design and bathe the cabin in natural light.

Land Rover Defender

What’s Inside

While I could spend hours talking about the interiors, I am going to highlight the most striking elements. The insides of the car are resolutely plush and feel like a luxury vehicle, but one is constantly reminded of its rugged identity thanks to the industrial-feel elements, exposed oversized screws, metallic panels, and wide-open dashboard. The dashboard stands out with its wide, horizontal cross-bar design, and the seats, steering wheel, and side panels have been finished in luxurious materials. I sat in the driver’s and the passenger seats, and found there to be a sense of spaciousness and comfort.

Land Rover Defender

On Point Infotainment System
Now here’s the best part – at the centre is a 12-inch touchscreen, the PV PRO, the manufacturer’s highly intelligent, new infotainment interface, which is customisable to no limit. I tinkered around with this system and found it easy to navigate and well designed. Barring a few unresponsive instances, the system worked pretty seamlessly. You can configure the layout of the system in swipe-through boxes or tiles. Options include the navigation, media, phone, wade sensing, compass, and energy impact. The last one rates your driving skills based on the way you brake or accelerate, giving you a score, encouraging you to drive in a more sustainable, fuel-efficient manner.

Land Rover Defender

Customisable Driving Experience

What I really loved about the car is that you can showcase different functions on the screen, depending on where you are driving. For instance, you can show the wade sensing display if you are driving through water. There is also a corresponding control to increase or decrease the suspension height of the car in one touch, depending on the terrain. While a 360-degree camera is a standard in most high-end cars, I loved turning on the ‘off road’ mode in the 360-degree camera, displayed on the central screen, which shows different views that will help you navigate the terrain better.

Another feature that I thought was intuitive was the entirely configurable driver display — single dial, double dial, navigation or media displays — which I found particularly useful as requirements can change depending on the drive.

Connectivity

Another feature that appeals to me is the presence of many USB ports and power sockets throughout the car, for every seat, indispensable to the luxury consumer. Even your kids who ride in the far back have access to USB ports to charge their personal devices. The far rear seats, when lowered, flush perfectly into the floor to provide ample storage space. In case your luggage is blocking your rear vision, fret not — flip a switch on the rear view mirror to turn on the clear sight rear view mirror.

Land Rover Defender

Our Verdict

This is without doubt one of the best-looking cars on Indian roads this season. Luxury consumers will flock to it for its host of customisable options. Besides its looks and capabilities under the hood, this car is a tech geek’s paradise with some of the best features we’ve seen in recent times. The Land Rover Defender is likely to disrupt the market with its pricing: Rs 73.98 lakhs – Rs 89.63 lakhs.

All images: Courtesy brand

Riaan George
Riaan J. George is a luxury journalist and blogger based between Mumbai, India, and Colombo, Sri Lanka. He has also worked for several leading luxury publications including L’Officiel India, Eat Stay Love, Blackbook India. He is passionate about covering beats like luxury trends, grooming, men’s fashion, auto, hospitality and aviation.