Thriving automobile icons are fast becoming a rarity despite an abundance of genuinely great vehicles available in the market. There aren’t many vehicles sold today deeply rooted with heritage that are so universally desired than a Land Rover Defender. What began life as a British alternative to the Willys Jeep after World War II, the Land Rover Defender was simply named as the Ninety when it was launched in 1948.
For the next 67 years up to 2016, the Land Rover 90, 110, and 130, the model numbers representing the respective wheelbase lengths in inches, would successfully find just over two million homes worldwide. With such an enormous cult following, the pressure to realize a successful modern reinterpretation of the iconic Land Rover Defender could have been one of the most challenging automotive design and execution efforts in the past two decades. Look at what happened to the Volkswagen Beetle; the modern versions, despite so much effort, never realized the same desirability and character of the original. That job went to Gerard Gabriel McGovern who in 2020 was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to automotive design. That alone is quite a confirmation of his talent and ability, and thereafter Land Rover earned the 2021 World Car Design of the Year award at the annual World Car Awards. McGovern was the design director for the Jaguar Land Rover group and was the lead on both generations of Range Rover Evoque as well as with the evolution of the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery.
Once again, with the all-new Land Rover Defender series, it rolled out with the 90 and 110 first. Both using the new aluminum unibody (monocoque) on the scalable D7x (the “x” stands for extreme, being at least 3 times more robust than before and currently the most rigid chassis in the whole Land Rover family) Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA) aluminum platform. The model names are the same as before for familiarity’s sake though their wheelbases are both roughly 10 inches longer than their predecessors are. Land Rover is also scheduled to release bookend models in 2022, a shorter 80 variant and a three-row seating 130 at about 5,105 mm long that adds length to the rear of the 110 after the back axel rather than expand the wheelbase to manage cost. With these four variants in the model range with multiple 4-, 6-, and 8-cylinder powerplants in diesel and gasoline fuels further combined with force-fed high-performance variants, Mild Hybrid (MHEV) and Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) models, the Defender family will become the most important and widest market-reaching in the entire Land Rover portfolio. Naturally, every Defender features four-wheel drive and locking differentials for navigating treacherous terrain. The new Defender uses fully independent suspension instead of solid axles.
In other markets, the Defender is available in Standard, S, SE, XS, HSE, X, V8 and V8 Carpathian Edition trim lines. In addition to the incredible customization possibilities available, Land Rover also offers four packaged accessory kits, called Explorer, Adventure, Urban and Country. Our awesome Defender S D240 test unit in Pangea Green (Light Oyster Morzine headliner with Robust Woven Textile accent and Lunar interior) came with the Explorer pack that has a variety of optional equipment that includes a very well-designed raised air intake even if the 110 with adaptive air suspension that can also adjust ride height, can already ford through 900 mm (conventional coil dampers wade at 850 mm) without the snorkel, a side-mounted storage box like a saddle bag, a cool looking Deployable Roof Ladder, a massive Expedition Roof Rack, extended mud flaps and so much more. The electrical system is tested to IP67 standard so, in theory, the Defender 110 should be able to withstand about an hour submerged in water without damage. The new electronic architecture uses 85 ECUs that communicate at up to 100Mb/s and manage everything from the LED headlights to the intelligent AWD system.
The Defender 110 S D240 uses a very refined, efficient, and gutsy inline-4 2.0-liter twin-turbodiesel that is light and potent but it will be replaced in many other markets by the end of the year with a range of power outputs using an inline-6 cylinder 3.0-liter engine that optimizes higher standard diesel fuel in the D200 (197 bhp / 369 lb-ft), D250 (245 bhp / 420 lb-ft) and D300 (296 bhp / 479 lb-ft) variants. Many markets like ours will thankfully retain the D240 powerplant as it reliably manages our lower grade fuel found throughout our archipelago.
If the retail price shocks you, do know that the pricing is actually correct. Let’s face it, in this day and age, the Defender is no longer a bargain and it is priced according to its liberal application of standard equipment. It might be possible to import one for less, but the fractional savings won’t make up for the peace of mind of a full factory warranty supported by the official Philippine distributor. I honestly think that our test unit sans the optional equipment is the very best bang-for-buck in the entire family of Land Rovers sold in our country. If you do have the means and you are willing to wait for a bespoke Defender, Land Rover / Jaguar Philippines will gladly accommodate and configure your dream vehicle as they would for the family range of models. But do know that the 110 S D240 is already thoroughly configured and optimized for our market at the best price possible.
As great looking as all that optional kit on our test unit is, I would not get the ladder, the 24-liter Exterior Side-mounted Gear Carrier, and the enormous roof rack that creates a tremendous amount of drag and wind noise above 100 km/h. The Defender is the luxury utility tool with genuine purpose and can be outfitted to suit practically every requirement. That huge aluminum roof rack, for example, combined with the ladder and side container all makes complete sense if you and your family intend to live off the land in a location that can only be traversed with such a capable vehicle. The optional Deployable Side Steps, which our test unit did not have, would be great for everyday use as they retract cleanly when not in use. This all-new Defender may be inspired by and may resemble its forefather, but it shares nothing else. We still have a couple of the characterful old BMW Philippines sold manual transmission TD5 Defender 110s in our C! Fastfleet and they have tremendous capability but they are very spartan, noisy, thirsty, and best optimized for off-road and mostly provincial roads.
The new 110 mixes elements of the original’s functionality with the technology and equipment you expect from a premium luxury sport utility vehicle. The exposed screw heads, aluminum panels, and ruggedized surfaces blend enticingly with the new padded areas. The magnesium beam that runs the full width of the dashboard is both structural as well as aesthetic. Oddly enough, despite all the fabulous textures and modern gadgetry, I wish there was an option to use analog driver instrumentation or a combination of both instead of the pure TFT screen. The rest of the tech controls can be displayed and managed by the 10-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen infotainment system anyhow. My only other critique is the audio system which has a 180-watt amp powering only six speakers, which is satisfactory but not great. At this price either the 400-watt 11 or 700-watt 15-speaker Meridian stereo should have been included as standard. Other nice touches are the ClearSight rear-view mirror for when your Defender is loaded to the hilt and the 360-degree surround camera system w/ ClearSight Ground for parking and trailing.
The Land Rover Defender 110 is a revelation. The agility and precision of how it carries itself and how it handles with a very compliant ride and excellent body control without compromising its ability to go anywhere comfortably will convince you that there is no better vehicle in its class. I just wish I could afford it.
Specification – 2021 Land Rover Defender 110 S D40
Location: Front, Longitudinal
Displacement: 1999 cc
Cylinder block: Cast Aluminum
Cylinder head: Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Fuel Injection: Direct Commonrail Fuel Injection, Intercooled Twin-Turbodiesel
Max power: 237 bhp @ 3750-4000 rpm
Max torque: 317 lb-ft @ 1400-3750 rpm
Transmission: ZF 8-speed automatic coupled with a 2-speed transfer case.
Front suspension: Independent SLA suspension with twin tower links, adaptive electric air shock absorbers.
Rear suspension: Independent multi-link adaptive electric air shock absorbers.
Fuel Capacity: 83.5 liters (22 gallons)
Load Capacity: 1,875 liters (behind 1st row) / 786 liters (behind 2nd row)
Ground Clearance: 218 mm Normal / 291 mm Off-Road
Wading Depth: 900 mm
Approach Angle: 37.5 degrees
Departure Angle: 40 degrees
Ramp-over angle: 31 degrees
L x W x H: 5018 mm x 2105 mm x 1967 mm
Wheelbase: 3022 mm
Brakes: Front 13.7-inch (349 mm) ventilated discs with 2-piston calipers / Rear 12.8-inch (325 mm) vented discs with single piston calipers Integrated Electric Parking Brake, ABS, DSC, ETC, RSC, CBC, HLA, LKA, HDC, Wade sensing & Electronic Brake Force Distribution.
Wheels: 19”x 8J Multi-spoke Style 6010, Glossy Black Aluminum Alloys.
Tires: P255/65R19 114H XL Good Year All-Terrain Adventure Wrangler
Weight: (kerb) 2323 kg. (5110 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 9 seconds
Top Speed: 192 km/h (120 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 8.8 L/100 km Overall
Price as tested: PhP 6,619,000.00 (Includes Optional Explorer Pack and additional equipment)
Explorer Pack – PhP 420,000.00
- Wheel Arch Protection
- Front Classic Mudflaps
- Rear Classic Mudflaps
- Matte Black Bonnet Decal
- Side Mounted Gear Carrier
- Raised Air Intake
- Spare Wheel Cover
- Deployable Roof Ladder
- Expedition Roof Rack
Additional Optional Equipment: PhP 109,000.00
- Gloss Black Wheel Arch Protection
- Gloss Black Side Mounted Gear Carrier
- Gloss Black Spare Wheel Cover
- Gloss Black front and rear letterings
- Gloss Black front and rear bumper trims
- Gloss Black front and rear lower bumper / lower 4-door claddings
- Gloss Black front grille
C! RATING 10/10
+Painfully desirable. Worth every cent. Exceeds all expectations. The most important member of the Land Rover family. Infinite possibilities and customization.