Home / Reviews / Land Rover Defender 110 P300 – Land Rover’s Balancing Act

 

Go on the road, go off the road. Go anywhere. The burly Defender’s claims are tall, as is the car itself. We acquaint ourselves with this British giant in and around Pune.

Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

This could begin with the legacy of the Land Rover Defender or I could just describe something that will forever be etched in my mind. The new Defenders were used in the filming of the James Bond flick No Time to Die. Land Rover made an advertisement out of that footage. It showed them being driven flat-out off road and it ended with a shot of the massive SUV botching a jump, landing on its side, and rolling over… on to its wheels. Then it just drove away as if nothing happened. Wow!

Standing before the 2023 Land Rover Defender 110, I had newfound respect for the SUV because, in real life, it is massive. With enough length, breadth, and height to rival a small truck, size is something the Defender does not have to worry about. In case you are wondering, there are no dimensional changes in this updated 110 model. The styling has been left more or less untouched since the time it reached our shores in 2020. Hardly a complaint because the design is distinctive and timeless, befitting the Defender legacy. Like its predecessors, this one also has its own identity on the road and off it. It simply cannot be mistaken for anything else.

The previous generations of the Defender had something pragmatic about them. They cultured adventure into the most timid people. The latest car’s appetite for exploring the road not taken is clear from the outside but the interior tells a different story. Land Rover have leaned more towards luxury than utility in this model, definitely the furthest they have dared to do so for the Defender thus far. The utilitarian cabin that this car was known for has been replaced by one that treads the fine line between function and luxury. Vintage Tan Windsor leather seats, wireless Apple CarPlay, wood elements, and Meridian sound system are only a few of the highlights of the new Defender’s extremely well-appointed cabin.

There is no shortage of space in this SUV. The first and second rows are equally spacious but the foldable seats in the third row are best for little children only. With the third row of seats folded down, the boot space is among the largest in its category, making it ideal for an overland trip into the unknown. I spent a considerable amount of time in this car, drove it on the busiest streets of Pune, and also took it to places where human presence is scarce. Through all of it, the Defender’s seats and features never disappointed. It was an extremely comfortable car to be in with tasteful details all around but I would not call it luxurious.

Under the bonnet was the smallest Ingenium petrol engine on offer in the current Defender line-up in India. A 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol may seem diminutive in a car this size but this engine develops a cool 300 hp and up to 400 Nm of torque and that is more than enough to send this car from 0 to 100 km/h in just over eight seconds. One could also achieve a top speed of up to 191 km/h. Is all that enough to take this behemoth off road?

Yes, it is; because the engine is only one part of the formula that makes this Defender so good. Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, adjustable ride height thanks to the air suspension, and monocoque chassis are all equal contributors to this SUV’s off-road prowess. With the suspension fully raised and the Terrain Response in the right mode, nothing much got in the way of this Defender. The photographer would point at steep inclines and I would just face the car in that direction and feed in the throttle. The way it climbed those slippery slopes beggared belief and further impressive was the way it used hill descent control to make its way down those slopes without once losing composure. That the Defender can go off road is obvious, but the way it did so made me a fan of it. It approaches obstacles head-on and then emerges victorious with hardly a struggle. One could get used to such effortless dominance. What makes this car special is the way its electronics harnesses its mechanical intricacies. Unless they want to, the driver does not have to work hard to get this behemoth moving even in the toughest of situations.

After such a flawless performance in the rough stuff, one may expect this SUV to be underwhelming on the road but it is not. In fact, that was the surprising part of this road test for me: the Defender’s road manners. On paved surfaces, select Comfort mode and the car sets itself up rather well. The ride quality is on a par with luxury SUVs and the direct, positive steering allows one to drive the Defender with confidence. Sitting high up in the cabin, one feels like this car is flattening the undulations on the road. On the highway, it forces its burly form through the air and the air rushes over its humongous mirrors relentlessly but the cabin remains nicely insulated. The eight-speed transmission makes it further easy to drive effortlessly. Looking at its size and weight, one may expect to be hurled across the cabin while cornering but that is hardly the case. It stays remarkably planted (for its size) and carries speed with unwavering composure.

This Land Rover Defender 110 is priced at Rs 97.45 lakh (ex-showroom) and it certainly feels like it is worth every penny but this one is not like its ancestors. Hear me out. We all grew up hearing tales of the Defender’s go-anywhere ability but in its latest iteration, would I be comfortable taking this thing off road? Yes and no. I would gladly take this thing to the ends of the earth and it would get me there happily but I would not even imagine getting such a nice cabin dirty or muddy. Its predecessors were used to reach some of the most remote places on the planet. This one will do it, too, but it appears to be made for a clientele who would prefer checking into a luxury camp at the end of it instead of pitching a tent.

Watch the full video review here:

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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