It should take just one glance at the above image for you to realise that the long wait for Land Rover’s all-new Defender has been worth it. Here, we see a 2020 Land Rover 90 on steel wheels, showing off some lovely axle flex. Isn’t it just a vision of uncomplicated beauty and dependability?
Both the 90 and the longer wheelbase Defender 110 are built on the “purpose-engineered” D7x platform, which is described as “95 per cent new”. Gone is the old ladder frame chassis and banished are the solid axles, replaced with an aluminium monocoque and independent suspension using either air or coil springs.
That’s not to say the new Defender has gone all soft on us. That monocoque is three times stiffer than an old-school body-on-frame setup, and the 110’d off-road stats stack up nicely. We’re looking at ground clearance of 291mm, a wading depth of 900mm, and approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 29, and 40 degrees.
To put that in context, a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - the Defender’s only real rival - manages 44, 27.8 and 37 degrees, and has a ground clearance of 270mm.
There’s plenty of off-road tech packed in the Defender’s boxy proportions, too. The hardy little brute is the first car to receive Land Rover’s new Configurable Terrain Response system. This lets drivers set the Defender exactly to their liking when driving off-road, with multiple settings available for the differentials, throttle response, gearbox, steering and traction control. If all that sounds too complicated, there’s an Intelligent Auto mode that’ll work out exactly how best to set up the car.
Another new addition is Wade Sensing, found in the Terrain Response 2 menu. This gives the driver the depth of any surrounding water they fancy fording, dragging the brakes slightly after exiting to ensure the discs are nice and clean.
From launch, the 110 will be available with four engine options. There’s a 2.0-litre diesel in 197bhp and 236bhp forms, an inline-four petrol putting out 296bhp, and finally a mild-hybrid petrol straight-six that’s good for 395bhp. All are mated to an automatic gearbox.
The cabin may look much fancier than the old Defender with the new 10-inch ‘Pivi Pro’ touchscreen infotainment system taking centre stage, but make no mistake, it’s designed to be tough and utilitarian. The 2020 version has a rubber floor and “flush fitting sills,” so if you’ve caked the interior in mud or dust, you can simply wipe or dust it clean. If your Defender isn’t going to venture much beyond Chelsea, though, you can option carpet inserts.
Despite riding on 18-inch steel wheels, the base model Defender is well-equipped, with heated and part-powered seats, a ClearSight Ground View camera, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, mobile connectivity and much more besides. To up the creature comforts further, S, SE, HSE and X trim levels will be available.
Outside of that, there’s a quartet of accessory packs - Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban. We particularly like the sound of Adventure, which includes a 6.5-litre pressurised water reservoir, an air compressor in the boot and a side-mounted ‘gear carrier’. Definitely one for Bear Grylls.
The 110 range starts at £45,240 for the entry-level diesel, rising to £78,800 for the cheapest version of the straight-six petrol. The 90 - which joins the range mid-2020 - should be about £40,000, while the Defender Commercial will start at around £35,000.
Fancy checking out its boxy proportions IRL? The new Land Rover Defender is on display now at the Frankfurt Motor Show.