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2020 Land Rover Defender: three-door 90 goes on sale

The Land Rover Defender ‘90’ variant is now available to order. Initially scheduled for mid-2020, the launch of the three-door has been brought forward after higher-than-expected demand for the five-door 110. The Defender 90 starts at £40,290, while the 110 costs from £45,240. A Commercial model will soon join the range, priced from around £35,000.

The new Land Rover Defender was officially revealed at September 2019’s Frankfurt Motor Show and the reception suggested it could prove to be the most popular car launched by Jaguar Land Rover in recent years. The new Defender is all-new, representing a modern take on the styling of the long-serving original.

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The Defender has proved to be the stereotypical ‘difficult second album’ for Land Rover. It was initially meant to be launched shortly after the withdrawal of its predecessor in 2016, but a rigorous worldwide testing programme pushed the release date back. Land Rover has had to juggle the tough and capable nature of the old version with modern styling and technology, making sure it still appeals to Defender enthusiasts.

2020 Land Rover Defender technology

If you’re familiar with the previous Defender, you might be taken aback by the sheer amount of technology fitted to the new car. At the start of 2020, Land Rover showcased some of the car’s features, which include surround-view cameras and dual-eSIM modem connectivity. The latter has never been seen on a car before, and allows the 10-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system to stream music and download app updates at the same time, without a noticeable difference in loading times and system usability.

This technology is always on, thanks to a dedicated auxiliary battery, while the infotainment system and digital instrument cluster use the same operating system as Blackberry smartphones. There’s a new mobile app that you can use to preset the climate control before you get in the car, among other things.

Interior

Increasing the wheelbase has freed up more space inside, making the Defender feel more airy and user-friendly. In most ways, the dashboard is unrecognisable from the previous generation, as Land Rover has pushed the Defender upmarket and included the equipment that customers expect in a new Land Rover.

A magnesium cross beam runs the width of the dashboard, which has been left exposed and helps make the Defender more rigid. As you might expect, grab handles are included to help your passengers get in and give them something to hold over bumpy terrain.

Practicality

The bench seating from the old Defender is no longer available but the new Land Rover Defender will be able to carry up to eight people. All models come with the option of a third front-row seat (which no rivals offer), thanks to the off-road shifter being mounted on the dash. When it’s not in use, you can fold down the middle front seat to create an armrest and a storage cubby. The new 130 model will offer a third row of seats but it’ll be costly as it’ll only be offered on the top trim level.

The mid-size 110 is likely to be the most popular choice and if you go for this version you’ll have 1,075 litres of boot space with the seats in position and a massive 2,300 litres with the rear seats folded. In the larger 130, there’s a 231-litre boot with all three rows up, which expands to 900 or 2,223 litres if you fold one or both seat rows respectively.

Engines and performance

Although the 2020 Defender sits on a new platform, Jaguar Land Rover’s existing range of engines can be fitted. Two petrols and two diesels are available, badged P300, P400, D200 and D240. The first petrol produces 296bhp and propels the Defender from 0-62mph in a smidge over eight seconds. It’s the thirstiest in the range, returning just 25.1mpg and emitting 227g/km of carbon dioxide.

You can choose from 197bhp and 237bhp diesel engines, which allow the Defender to accelerate to 0-62mph in 9.9 and 9.1 seconds respectively. You should be able to achieve 32.2mpg in normal, on-road driving from either of these engines, and the CO2 output is 199g/km.

The range-topping P400 engine combines a 395bhp petrol engine (with a turbocharger and a supercharger) and a 48-volt battery. It’s by far the quickest version available - 0-62mph takes just 6.4 seconds - but its mild-hybrid system slightly helps fuel economy. From this engine you can expect 25.6mpg and 220g/km of CO2.

All versions feature four-wheel-drive and an automatic gearbox. The P400 engine may not remain the quickest model in the range; Jaguar Land Rover certainly won't overlook the booming market for luxury SUVs. Earlier in the development process, JLR design boss Gerry McGovern hinted that high-performance SVR versions could be offered.

With Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division having already impressed with models like the 567bhp Range Rover Sport SVR, it could turn its attention to the next Defender and produce a real rival to the new Mercedes-AMG G63 SUV. Such a car would likely prove popular in the Russian and Chinese markets, as would a luxurious version along the lines of the Range Rover SVAutobiography.

Off-roading

Land Rover is confident that the new model is even more capable off-road than any previous factory-spec Defender. It can now wade through water up to 900mm deep - a whole 400mm more than the previous-generation car - and, when going through water, the car adjusts the suspension, closes the air vents and ensures the brakes continue to work. Approach angles have been improved so the car is less likely to ground itself when traversing a steep incline.

The company’s Terrain Response 2 system is available on some trim levels and the options list, and you can configure this to your individual preferences. All 110 and 130 variants get air suspension as standard, while it’s standard on the top-spec 90 and optional elsewhere.

The next-generation Defender has racked up over a million test miles in a variety of environments, including 50-degree deserts, the sub-zero Arctic, and the high-altitude Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The testing regime hasn't entirely focused on rugged terrain, as we also saw a prototype lapping the famous Nurburgring racetrack in Germany.

Prices and specifications

Prices have now been revealed for the three-door 90 and five-door 110 models. The 90 costs from £40,290, and the 110 starts at £45,420 for a Defender with the entry-level diesel engine but you can spend as much as £78,800 on a hybrid Defender 110 before options. Meanwhile, a Commercial version will be more utilitarian and will begin somewhere in the region of £35,000 plus VAT when it joins the line-up late this year.

The entry-level model is simply called Defender but it comes with LED headlights, a heated windscreen, heated and powered front seats and the new 10-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system. Not only does this feature smartphone mirroring but it also includes Land Rover’s ClearSight Ground View camera, which can show you what’s in front of the vehicle off-road. The standard 18-inch steel wheels are painted white as a retro touch and a nod to the original Defender. 

Upgrade to the Defender S and you’ll get 19-inch alloy wheels, a centre console with armrest and a leather steering wheel. SE brings larger 20-inch wheels, blind-spot assistance, an ISOFIX mounting on the front seat (110 model only) and premium LED headlights. Above that is the high-spec HSE, which adds matrix LED headlights, cooled front seats, adaptive cruise control, rear collision monitor and an opening panoramic glass sunroof.

The top-of-the-range X model brings design tweaks, a black contrasting roof, a head-up display, illuminated metal tread plates, heated rear seats and the Terrain Response 2 software but you can only get it with the P400 straight-six mild-hybrid powertrain.

You can add a range of accessory and option packs, called ‘Explorer’, ‘Adventure’, ‘Country’ and ‘Urban’. All in all, you can choose from a dizzying 170 options, plus seven paint colours and 12 wheel designs.

The Explorer pack brings a raised air intake, a 26kg roof rack, a side-mounted gear carrier, wheel arch protection and a spare wheel cover, plus a matte black bonnet decal.

The Adventure pack includes the same gear carrier as the Explorer, an integrated air compressor, mud flaps, a portable rinse system with a pressurised water reservoir, and a backpack built into a rear seat.

The Country pack consists of wheel arch protection and a full-height loadspace partition – but deletes the spare wheel cover and the backpack.

The Urban pack includes bright-metal pedals, a spare wheel cover, a front undershield and a bright rear scuff plate. A larger range of alloy wheel designs are also available, including a 22-inch five-spoke design.

See how the new Defender compares to the best 4x4s and SUVs you can buy in 2020.

Source: www.carbuyer.co.uk