The new Land Rover Defender has been raking in the awards since its eagerly anticipated arrival last year.
Two of its most recent accolades include being crowned the international women’s car of the year and on the local front it scooped a prize as South Africa’s best premium SUV. Yet these are all added bonuses as the Defender’s main purpose is to carry on Land Rover’s 72-year heritage of an off-roader equipped to conquer any terrain.
This is evident by the British manufacturer’s bold proclamation that the new Defender is “the most capable Land Rover ever made”.
But even should you have no intention of ever taking your Defender off the tarmac, Land Rover nonetheless offers the perfect introduction to its majestic skills at the Land Rover Experience in Lonehill. Here experienced instructors provide fascinating insides to what this vehicle is capable of. An easy-to-understand technical explanation is followed by first-hand experience of the rough stuff.
Land Rover’s purpose-built off-road course is the perfect place to experience what the new Defender has to offer. As far as hardware goes, that includes permanent all-wheel drive and a twin-speed automatic gearbox, centre differential and optional active locking rear differential.
In terms of software, the clever Terrain Response 2 system’s auto function is tailormade for the most inexperience off-road driver as it automatically detects conditions and adapts accordingly. More experienced bundu bashers looking for a more hands-on ride can still fine-tune individual settings to their liking.
You don’t have to look further than the Wade programme, which supports wading depth of 900mm, to get an idea of how advanced the Defender is. The programme automatically softens throttle response, adjusts ventilation to recirculate cabin air, locks the driveline and raises ride height.
After exiting the programme, the Defender automatically drags its brakes for a moment to clean and dry the discs to ensure optimal braking performance ahead of the its next challenge.
Through its air suspension, the Defender’s body can be raised by a maximum of 145mm, offering ground clearance of up to 291mm. At this height, approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees respectively are possible.
And to ensure there are no hidden dangers, the Defender is equipped with ClearSight Ground View. This allows a real-time footage of the area under the bonnet and in front of the front wheels which is projected on the infotainment screen.
And needless to say, all this is done in premium comfort as the cushy accolades would suggest.