Phil purchased this Land Rover Defender new with additional options for $180,000 including all on-road costs. Phil would buy this car again because: “I would buy a Defender again as I’m most impressed with it and it suits me perfectly. I’ve found it to be the perfect blend of luxury and practicality. I honestly can’t think of anything else I’d rather own for my daily transport.”
I’m sorry to disappoint all the Land Rover haters but over the first 12 months of ownership (20,000km), the vehicle has been very reliable. Even the electronics, which have been a weakness for the brand in the past, haven’t missed a beat.
The one aspect of ownership I wasn’t expecting was the amount of attention my car receives. I literally have people stop me in the street to ask about the car or complement me.
I’ve even seen tourists taking photos of it! I can’t imagine how much attention Alborz must get driving proper exotic cars.
It is a very easy car to get comfortable in. The heated and cooled seats offer a great range of adjustability and are very comfortable. Visibility is great making it easy to manoeuvre, even in confined spaces. I’m a big fan of Land Rover’s ‘command ‘ driving position, having a bit of a niggling back injury that surfaces from time-to-time I find the upright seating position perfect.
Accommodation in the rear is very impressive, even with the front seats all the way back there is easily sufficient room for three adults in the back. It has noticeably more legroom than my previous Disco 4, which itself was quite adequate.
The luggage compartment however is a little smaller than the Disco was but it’s certainly large enough for my needs. Those who want more space can look at the upcoming 130 I guess. Like my previous LR the rear seat bases flip forward allowing the seat back to fold completely flat which is clever and makes for a huge load space.
Some may be disappointed at the lack of carpet for the price, however I live in a rural area and constantly have passengers getting in with dirty boots so the easy clean floor rather suits me.
Whilst performance is covered later in the review I must mention the P400 motor. It’s an impressive engine and for me it really elevates the experience, making every drive feel special.
Special is how I’d sum up the ownership experience. It’s a practical car but also an enjoyable car to drive everyday. It has that mini (in terms of price, not size) Range Rover feel (and yes, I have driven the superseded RR) the Japanese 4x4s can’t match.
It still puts a smile on my face every day which is pretty well as good as it gets for a daily driven multi-purpose car.
The purchase experience was the simplest of any car I’ve bought and also the most drawn out, through no fault of the dealership I must clarify.
It was the the morning after the New Defender was launched at the Frankfurt motor show (September 2019) and I was looking at the photos on the net and I came to the conclusion that this would be the perfect replacement for my ageing Discovery 4.
I took the wife out for a boozy lunch to sell the idea to her and to my slight surprise she liked the look of it (unlike the G-Class I periodically threatened to buy). I went home and rang my friendly LR salesman to enquire as to when they might be available in Australia and he explained I could spec a car on line and send it to him with a deposit, so that’s exactly what I did. He told me to expect delivery mid-2020.
Then of course COVID happened, resulting in a factory shutdown. Then the semiconductor shortage hit, and it became apparent the wait was going to be a bit longer – more so if I wanted to keep my chosen spec, which wasn’t going to be available in the first run of Aussie builds.
I elected to hold out for the X I had chosen. I must give credit to my salesman for keeping me updated throughout this lengthy period of time, and he even had me in for a test drive when they got their first demo, which was a more basic S but with the P400 motor. Luckily I liked it.
I finally took delivery on 23rd of December 2020. Merry Christmas to me! The delivery process was the best I’ve experienced thus far. The car was presented under a black sheet with a ribbon on it and was immaculately clean (pretty simple but I’ve picked up cars before where this has not been the case).
My plates were swapped onto it while I signed the paperwork and I was shown through the car. A number of dealership staff came over to congratulate me on my chosen colour and spec, it was apparently the best looking one they had delivered thus far.
I’ve been back just the once for the 3000km check up. This was handled efficiently while I enjoyed a coffee. During this time not just my salesman but also a number of dealership staff came over to me to see how I was finding the car which was a nice touch.
Of course I’ve had all the surveys etc that is pretty standard these days. Wait time aside, it’s the most positive car buying experience I can remember.
There is no getting around the fact that $180k is rather a lot of money! I like cars and I use my car a lot. I also have a decent job and I own my house, so I can justify it. Many people wouldn’t, and I completely understand that.
I must say that about $20,000 of that is options and to be honest a lot of it isn’t completely necessary. Take that off the price and its getting closer to a 300 Series which isn’t too bad. The most upsetting thing is the fact about $45,000 of that is taxes, but that’s a whole other argument.
In terms of features, in X trim it has pretty well everything in it. All the bells and whistles one would expect in a modern European car and all the proper 4×4 hardware. So to compare it to a LandCruiser again it’s certainly not fantastic value for money, but I don’t think it’s terrible either
I’ve found the P400 motor pretty impressive. 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds is good for a vehicle with the aerodynamics of a house brick. The immediate torque from idle makes it feel even more responsive. It’s one of those cars that feels very adequate, there’s always more than enough power available for overtaking.
It sounds pretty good when I put my foot down, too!
Im getting between 11.5-12.5L/100km, which is identical to my previous 5.0L naturally-aspirated Disco 4. I’m in no way disappointed in this however, but I thought the trend to downsize and turbo charged engines was supposed to improve the economy?
Maybe I’m just availing myself of the additional performance. I must also explain I spend most my time driving between 80 and 100km/h. I imagine if one lived in a major city, the figures would be a lot worse.
While Land Rover has often led the way in terms of technological advancement the execution hasn’t always been perfect. I reckon this time round they’ve nailed it. There is almost too much to mention so I’ll point out a few of my favourite features.
Pivi Pro is a game-changer for the brand. I believe it’s the single biggest improvement over my previous Land Rover which had a slow, laggy infotainment system. Upon startup the screen is on, phone paired ready to go. The response to commands is instantaneous and the in built satellite navigation and voice control is a lot more user-friendly.
As someone who uses WhatsApp a lot I appreciate the ability through Android Auto to send and receive messages by voice. As much as I get frustrated with fingerprints, I do find the touchscreen quick and easy to use, certainly less hassle than Inside or MMI.
The Terrain Response system seems more refined than the previous versions. The alteration to throttle response in the different modes is particularly useful given it has a pretty sensitive throttle, which is not what you want on a dodgy track.
It’s fascinating to watch on the screen as the diffs lock and unlock automatically, really clever stuff and my wife noticed how much smoother and more refined the hill descent control is compared to my previous car. I think that’s the key thing with Land Rover. They develop class-leading technology but it takes them a couple of generations to get it perfect.
The active safety features are also impressive. We read a lot of car reviews where the writer is critical of such systems for intervening too much or not enough. Indeed I find the adaptive cruise control on the Mitsubishis at work dreadful, constantly picking up the vehicles in the slow lane and reducing speed.
In contrast I find the Defender works faultlessly. I was a bit skeptical about the lane-keeping assist but it does a pretty good job finding the lines on the road where they exist. The surround cameras are pretty impressive and the Clear Sight mirror is a clever idea, but I personally can’t get used to the view and tend to keep it on normal most the time.
Air suspension is one of the major benefits of the brand in my opinion. I believe the ride quality is getting pretty close to Range Rover, it’s that good and I drive over some pretty poor roads at speeds that would likely cause damage in a steel sprung car. No doubt it also helps that I have sensible 20-inch wheels with decent side walls.
It’s a big heavy wagon so it’s never going the handle like a sports car but I believe it handles pretty well for what it is, it certainly feels to have less body roll than my Disco had, and that car was pretty good for its time.
All-in-all I think they got the ride and handling balance pretty much right.
It’s a very positive review because it has been and continues to be a very good car that is ideally suited to my requirements.
Other than a Range Rover which is too expensive I honestly can’t think of another vehicle I’d rather own. I reckon when it’s time to trade it in the new V8 will be pretty tempting though!