It’s finally here! The all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender. And we’ve got our hands on a lovely Pangea Green 110, before the smaller Defender 90 comes along next year. But being such an iconic off-roader, we couldn’t just do a humdrum review. So Magazine’s Jack Rix decided to go on an adventure – across Namibia – for a test drive to remember. Series 28: The Online Geneva Motor Show: First Look: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.
right then driving the new defender quite a big moment isn’t it now we are in Namibia we are going to be testing this car to its absolute limit over the next three days but first I thought you might want to know what it’s like to drive you know on an actual road a shorter three-door defender 90 starting from around 40 grand goes on sale a little later but it’s this Pangaea green defender 110 that’s our home for the next three days adi 240 four-cylinder diesel fitted with a full Explorer pack and a few choice extras strapped to the roof here we go then first things first this car is running on goodyear duratec off-road tires there’s a standard optional off-road type and we’re running lower pressures than normal that’s because that’s the setup we need to tackle the terrain that we’re going to find over the next three days we have managed to find pretty much the only tarmac road in the whole of Namibia and yeah there is a bit of delay and squidge in the steering a bit of extra noise but honestly not that much you could run these tires every day and while I’m here there’s something I’m just need to get off my chest nice and early the camera for a rear view mirror don’t like that you can’t flip it between a normal mirror and a screen like that but really hard to adjust your eyes to it and it looks like everyone is aggressively tailgating seating position the big news is the new defender is no longer the ergonomic nightmare that the old one was where your nose was crushed against the windscreen and your elbow was squashed against the door big humans will fit also minted farmers might be part of the target demographic for this car it’s no longer agricultural you’ve got a smooth 8-speed auto gearbox the 2-liter diesel in this one feels remote you do sense a certain size and weight to the car but a bit like the discovery that’s actually a good thing it rolls down the road with the heft and confidence it feels planted this car doesn’t have any sporty pretensions there’s definitely no sport mode down here and I love that it’s just a big comfy high riding SUV that’s ready to go into off-road beast mode at any moment if you don’t want to diesel there’ll be a tax-dodging plug-in hybrid version in about a year and if you want more performance you want this there is a 300 horsepower to leave 2 turbo petrol also available but this is the daddy a straight-6 with the turbo charge of supercharged and a mild hybrid system for 400 horsepower as suspected the diesel is perfectly fine and let’s face it is probably the one you’re gonna buy but this is the one you want that’s more like it if you’re wondering why the hype around the new defender is quite so feverish is because the current replaces which ended production in January 2016 to trace its roots all the way back to the original series one lamb Rover from 1948 68 years of constant production over 2 million produced a car loved and used properly all around the globe for daily chores and countless expeditions the defender is more than just an icon it’s a national treasure and the toughest of acts to follow right back to 2020 our journey begins in a pool in Namibia’s extreme northwest corner before traveling north to the infamous Vans L pass itself through the Merriam flutes to wildlife rich puros before exploring the skeleton coat and looping back to where we started nearly 700 kilometers in total we’ll be traveling in convoy and I should mention this is a land rover organized trip so the danger is managed but still very much real if any expedition veteran will tell you the key to survival is preparation which is why back here I’ve got all the essentials a tent a sleeping bag a big dust proof bag which could be quite useful seeing as we’re in the desert an extremely sporty looking hat a head torch potential for those late night Lou runs a towel if you can call it that well that’s gonna do the job a couple of Tudor Pringles some water some toilet paper some tissues some baby wipes and before you ask the fact that my shorts and t-shirt match the car complete coincidence they won and a relatively gentle introduction to 240 kilometers down washed out gravel tracks and rocky paths to our campsite for the night perched at the top of the pass but first a bit of a confession truth is I don’t really get off-roading not as a hobby at least why anyone would want to go and spend their weekends trying to get stuck in a puddle but the significance of this car isn’t lost on me we’ve been waiting decades and decades and decades for a new defender and now it’s finally here and you have to say the team that designed this had an unenviable job didn’t they but they’ve done a fantastic job on this thing it references the past but it also moves things on the biggest compliment I can pay this car is that when I first saw it straightaway within seconds I wanted one and I still do so the big question is why are we out in the middle of nowhere in Africa to drive this thing when we could you know just drive it around in the Midlands well it’s because the defender has to be the most rugged the most capable wherever you want to call it car in the world buyers from wealthy farmers to the kind of people that are just going to drive it around the middle of London need to know if they’re going to put their money down on this thing that it can do this sort of stuff so these are the type of roads that we’re having to deal with today you can’t get too close to the car in front because they’re just kicking up this huge rooster tail of dust and it just reduces your visibility to zero so you got to keep your distance in terms of the road surface well it’s a gravel road loose surface you can feel the car just wandering around underneath you it’s quite nice actually if I was more childish I’ll be doing some skids at this point and then all of a sudden you’ll get these things called washouts where a river has run across the road gouged out a hole and just created this really steep rut so you’ve got to watch out for those because you don’t want to hit them carrying too much speed and then suddenly out of nowhere the road surface can completely change it becomes corrugated it’s just a series of ripples it’s a serious suspension test but to beat an amoeba once before and I did a 4-hour drive in a bat old toyota hiace with broken suspension and it was absolute torture on this type of roads but as you can see the defender just glides over it deals with it admirably I’m told that when they were testing this car they drove it repeatedly at 25 miles an hour into a two hundred millimeter high curb and right now that’s quite reassuring still reeling from just how tough the new defender is how much punishment it can absorb and keep pluggin on unscathed we arrived at the campsite with just enough time to dip myself a mosquito repellent before dinner but before that a tour of our accessories in a bit more detail so just before we try and get comfy for the night I thought I’d just show you around the accessories on this car in a little bit more detail this is the raised air intake snorkel if you like now contrary to popular belief this does not raise the waiting height of the defender – somewhere up here it’s still 900 millimeters which is roughly my hip height not bad at all the point of this is to raise the air intake out of the sort of dust stream so when you’ve got all of that dust and dirt and everything flying down here you get clean air into the engine come around the front this cars fitted with the wind not part of the it’s explorer pack but the ultimate accessory of you’re going to be going to places like this apparently this could pull the defender up a vertical wall now of course if we come across a vertical cliff face and I don’t know Freddie Flintoff I’ll be sure to show you how that works next up we have the penny as these storage boxes on the side now you open it up with this key here now the contents of this box shows us how much faith Land Rover has on us because there’s a fire extinguisher and over here some dehydrated food apparently this is because rivers can form quite quickly in the midea and if we get stuck between two rivers we’ll be stranded for the night so we’ve made it to the campsite we won’t be needing that today at least and finally the really good stuff the built-in ladder so you pull that latch it should with a bit of effort come away fold down stand back I’m going up onto the Explorer roof rack which has been fully kitted out with everything you need sand ladders extra petrol a shovel over here and a spare tire and while I’m up here I bet you’re just praying I fall over on me I’m gonna take the best seat in the house for that sunset I’ll tell you what this is how you want to end the day isn’t it day two 300 kilometres to cover and there’s no gentle start this is the Vans L pass the fiercest off-road examination in Namibia and we’re about to drive over it and plunge 600 metres into the valley below the steepest parts of this pass of 35 degrees that’s like driving down a black ski run that’s covered in boulders in a two and a half ton car the next 20 kilometers are going to take us two and a half hours time to deploy some of the defenders technology so you can’t delve into the menus and control everything manually select the amount of diff lock you want the amount of slip you want on each wheel or you can be very under fender and just put the terrain response mode in Auto and let the car decide for you what it wants to do by the way you can see on the display in the centre here what’s going on with your diff sand your various angles what you must do is remember to put the car into low range mode for that you put the gear leaver in neutral you hit this button it says low you get your green icon on the screen and you’re aware you must also put the car in its off-road height standard cars come on coil springs of course this is on air suspension that self– levels it lowers when you need to do stuff like load the boot or can stand up in its tiptoes for more extreme stuff like this right think we’re ready off we go let the car do the work let the car do the so the chassis on the new defender is cooled dx7 it’s an aluminium monocoque it does have certain things in common with other aluminium platforms that lam Rover makes but it’s basically 90% all new parts and it’s the stiffest body that they’ve ever made which when you’re driving up and down what basically amounts to sheer cliff faces here that’s very reassuring indeed there is some pretty smart technology at my fingertips if I can bring myself to take my fingertips off the wheel you hit this camera symbol down here on road mode and you get this incredible 3d view of the car as viewed from the outside it’s called 360 scalp the idea being like it’s like having a passenger who’s got out the car and is scouting the track ahead for you and it is pure witchcraft not at all a sure how it works something to do with merging the images from all five cameras around the car and creating this picture you see down here but it’s absolutely brilliant I bet you that’d be really useful on with the Streeters as well as well insane mountain passes like this also if we hit off-road mode down here you’ve got the invisible bonnet mode this is even clever I think because it’s taking an image of the road in front of the car then delaying that image and feeding it to this camera feed here so you’ve effectively got the position of your front wheels and an image of what’s going on under the car in real time which is super useful when there’s jagged rocks everywhere that could puncture all your tires it’s amazing stuff if you buy this car you owe it to the engineer’s to go and do some of this stuff you don’t have to come to Africa you can do it in the UK but you need to see what this car is capable of it’s absolutely phenomenal and that’s what happens when you don’t get it right anyway first big test complete next things were about to open up considerably as we entered the Marion loose just look at the scale of this place it’s absolutely stunning and the surface has changed once again we’re now running on loose and we’re following these tracks which I’m told and laid down mainly by Toyota’s most of the cars around here at Toyota pickups which has a slightly narrower track than this defender and what that means is that it has a tendency to make the car we’ve left and right in a slightly disconcerting manner but I’m told is completely normal so I’m going to ignore it for now we’ve got some distance to cover today so it’s the perfect time to kick back and reflect on the fact that the defender really is a very very good road trip car it’s not luxury in the sense of leather and nolde metal switches like you get in a Bentley the luxury here is space because you’ve got all this storage space big storage bins in the doors and you’ve got this beam that runs right across the middle of the – magnesium alloy beam you do get one of those in a Range Rover except it’s covered up here they’ve just exposed it in the defender and created this really really useful shelf for all your roadtrip crap the Dickie seat so you basically got the option of having a normal centre console or you can have this third seat in the middle so when it’s folded down like this you’ve got cup holders here you’ve got various power outlets behind it you’ve got somewhere to put your phone back here but then when you need to give someone extra a lift you just flip it up like this and there we go three seats in the front okay we’ve got some kilometers to kill so I’ve got a side mission animal spotting I’m told there’s elephant giraffe rhino lions and baboons around here I can’t be certain we’ll see them and clearly I’m no Attenborough but eyes peeled for safari mode engaged James get the camera out look giraffe oh man I’m not joking it’s about to draw I’m a semi joking when I said we’re gonna see some animals we look at it still buzzing from our Unepic close encounter we arrive at our lodge just before dark grab a beer and collect my thoughts alright that’s the end of the day back at the extremely modest lodge the massive day that was the big one it all started basically out of our tent brush your teeth straight down the van’s l pass massively steep a huge test for the carpet it really shocked it off the thing about the defendants it makes you look like an off-road expert when really I’m doing little more than putting it in the right mode and resting my foot on the foot it’s a good fun actually because NIC Rogers the chief engineer on the defender showed me how to rock a defender back and forth you balance two wheels and then you have the other two hanging in the air great fun felt a little bit like it might be my initiation into the off-road fraternity one-handed from there we headed down into the Marion flues this incredible expanse of sand really good fun lots of speed we could slide the car around a bit there felt like proper Africa big sky big landscapes couple of flat tires that was quite a beauty luckily I was on hand to wield the will nut gun and then we came across this shot middle of nowhere we’d been driving for hundreds of kilometres hadn’t seen another car and suddenly this souvenir shop pops up and I wear bracelets wooden elephants what an amazing existence they live and work in the middle of nowhere I set myself the task of seeing some animals basically I decided I was on safari and my thought we’d hit the jackpot and I spotted a giraffe about 600 meters away we got a shot of it came around the corner boom an entire herd of giraffes it was amazing we just crawled along with them tried not to disturb them and the car completely resilient totally unstoppable but also quite a lot of fun I wouldn’t call it nimble but it certainly has a balance to it I feel like I’m starting to bond with the car so much fun quite a lot to process so I think on that note I’m just gonna be rim say Cheers sign off I’ll get some sleep day 3 the final leg and we’ve saved the best for last cruising through and rolling down sand dunes in the endlessly breathtaking skeleton coastal parks snuggled up against the Atlantic Ocean then inland warming up the mostly dry who received riverbed encountering some more sizable friends along the way and having pretty much the most fun you can have with your clothes on driving the defender here is a bit like rallying without any of the precision or skill some with a little less skilled than others shouldn’t have said that think it might be a little bit stuck ok so I want to show you how there’s new wade sensing mode works you select it down here see an icon of the car with the dotted line they’re saying our maximum wave height is 800 millimetres but if I raise the suspension to off-road height yes that goes up to 900 millimeters speaking of ground clearance in its highest off-road setting the defender suspension lifts the under floor 291 millimeters from the ground which just so happens to be the exact height of a wine bottle stood in its end so in theory we should just drive over it let’s give it a go shall we it works Oh all right back to the waiting now when I’m in the water there should be a blue line that comes up on the screen here showing how deep you are in the thing is it only works below 10 kilometres an hour and the riverbed that we’re trying across is just so sticky so boggy the mud is so deep that the only way to get across is to absolutely send it keep your footing can’t see a thing don’t see a thing and on that joyous night we homed in on the end of our expedition three days of relentless abuse and not a single thing has broken or gone wrong we didn’t even get a flat I mean that’s just remarkable there’s a concern that the defender 110 is just gonna steal or cannibalize sales off the discovery and I’m certain that it will it’s newer it’s cool and you’re gonna want one more I want one more but I don’t think the discovery needs to worry too much just yet there’s still plenty of room for a luxurious 7 seater SUV in Lamm Rovers lineup the luxury that this car brings is what it can do the places that it opens up I said at the start of the film that off-roading wasn’t really my thing and I’m not afraid to admit it this car this landscape has converted me for now you can keep your race tracks with your noise limits and yeah crash barriers because in this thing I’ve got the whole world to play