The legendary 4x4 workhorse is back with a modern twist and Ed Coles is delighted to find the same old ‘go anywhere’ qualities
The word legend gets thrown around all too often, but in the case of the Land Rover Defender 110, it’s well deserved. Whether for duties on the farm, transporting our special forces, or as a favoured Chelsea tractor, the Defender has made its mark. So can the updated version fill those very big boots? We’re having a play in the new Land Rover Defender 110 Hardtop D250. The Hardtop is what some would call a ‘proper’ Defender and, yes, someone’s pinched the seats out of the back.
Land Rover Defender 110
The defining Defender silhouette is still there behind the softened edges and it certainly hasn’t lost its rugged looks. Classic touches like the rear door-mounted spare and the 18in white wheels are a nice nod to the past and complement the Tasman blue paintwork, although there’s an argument for a white roof. Overall, though, I like it a lot. From the front, it looks pleasingly modern, with a hint of nostalgia. The round LED lights, grille and bumper are blended nicely and the grey trims tie it all together. Other drivers will definitely notice it in the rear-view mirror.
From the rear, its classically square shape moulds nicely with the fancy recessed LED lamps and it wouldn’t be a Land Rover without the rear-mounted spare.
Using the trusty feed bag and creaking down to have a look underneath, we can see the industry-standard protective covers and it looks reassuringly rugged and up to the task. There is multilink independent suspension at the back and double wishbones at the front. We have coil springs on this one, but adjustable air suspension is available.
As expected, most of the 4×4 trickery is hidden away, but what we can see looks as if it should do any job thrown at it. With a ground clearance of 228mm and a wading depth of 850mm, the new 110 shouldn’t get into too many difficulties.
Under the nicely curved bonnet, we have a three-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine. The straight six pumps out a healthy 249bhp and 570Nm of torque — more than enough to haul the three-tonne Defender and tow an additional 3.5 tonnes.
Combined with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and electric motor, the mighty 110 gets up to 60mph in a reasonable 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 117mph. Fair enough, we might not take it on a track day, but with all-wheel drive and the sensible all-weather tyres fitted, I can think of a few more suitable alternatives.
On opening the boot, we’re greeted with a massive bulkhead and an equally massive load area. I’m not sure I have enough good feed bags to fill the back of it, but it’s definitely in the realm of 30-plus bags of wheat. With all the cubbyholes and pockets in the side trims, there’s plenty of room for storing tools and kit. Opening the rear doors makes loading easy and, underneath the raised floor, there’s a handy lockable space, ideal for keeping shotguns or rifles out of the way of spilled wheat.
Inside the 110’s cabin, the nostalgic theme continues with the dash and not least with the three seats. The middle seat can be folded down, giving us a large centre console with armrest, cup holders and as many charging points as you could want. It’s quite comfortable inside, although with three in the front, it is a bit cosy.
The controls are pretty user-friendly, but it did take me a while to realise some of the heater controls double up as some of the driving mode buttons. The driving modes pretty much do what they say on the tin: eco, comfort, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, sand and rock crawl. There is a wading mode and low-traction starting function if things get tricky.
Most of the numerous gadgets are controlled from the central touchscreen. All the usual suspects are present — satnav, DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android connectivity, phone, internet and so on. The 3D reversing camera is next-level witchcraft and the camera-operated rear-view mirror is a bit special, too. There are a few handy screens for off-road driving and an eco-screen.
Fully loaded up, it’s time to put the 110 through its paces. On the road, it feels comfortable. Cruising on the motorway is smooth and the handling is pretty good for a three-tonne vehicle. The handling is fairly responsive and proved nimble getting out of the way of a speeding beaten-up Subaru. You know the type.
The Defender is rather spirited when you put your foot down — not as spirited as the fleeing Subaru, but a good effort nonetheless. It’s not lightning quick, but certainly fast enough to put a smile on your face.
Through the twisty back roads and villages, the Defender holds the uneven surfaces and corners well. It handles more like an SUV than your typical wobbly 4×4 but, at the same time, the suspension feels like it could handle a beaten track or two.
Heading off-piste to check my feeders, the 110 makes easy work of the gravel tracks and wet stubble fields.
Despite forgetting to put it into the mud and ruts mode, the 110 dealt with the heavily rutted tracks with ease and with only mild slipping. The 110 handles the lumps and bumps well and is pleasingly agile through the woods. With a setting for every occasion, the Defender can pretty much go anywhere.
The new Land Rover Defender 110 Hardtop is, like its predecessor, very capable off-road. But, unlike its predecessor, it is actually rather good on the road. With masses of space in the back, the Hardtop is definitely a worthy workhorse and I was a bit reluctant to give it back. This modern take on nostalgia does come at a premium, though, and this 110 starts off at £53,735. That isn’t cheap but, given the level of kit and capability, it’s probably worth it. The legend lives on and it gets 4.5 out of five from me.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Land Rover
- Model Defender 110 Hardtop D250
- Power 249bhp, 570Nm of torque
- Top speed 117mph
- 0-60mph 7.9 seconds
- Emissions (g/km) CO2 233g/km
- Fuel economy Up to 31.8mpg
- Towing weight, braked 3,500kg
- Ground clearance 228mm