Updated: Feb 27
Went across to Guy Salmon Land Rover at Portsmouth last Saturday to take a look at the new Land Rover Defender 110. Unfortunately it wasn't available to test drive but we had a quick 'poke' around it. I was very impressed. Everything about it feels quality and robust.
The vehicle has a very purposeful look from the front. Not to sure about the functionality of the protective A Bar which doesn't look like it would protect the headlights or wings from bush (or wildlife) but otherwise it has the look of a prop forward getting ready for a scrum; broad shoulders and a solid stance on the road. It wasn't obvious where you could fit additional LED driving lights that are so important in spotting and avoiding wildlife crossing tracks at night. The Indus Silver colour suits this vehicle but I think we would go for either Eiger Grey or Pangea Green. In the videos I'd seen previously I didn't really like the '110' livery on the bonnet as it looked a bit 'naff' - but somehow in the flesh it looks so much better. The 'checker plates' on the bonnet / wings are little small to be functional but maybe its a blast from the past and more for aesthetics then functionality. They could do with being a bit bigger to allow access to the roof rack from the front.
On the drivers side (right side as you sit in the driver's seat), the 'Adventure Pack' includes a handy box. I have to say this seemed a little frail ('plasticky'). Maybe good to keep recovery straps and tree huggers in but I'm not sure how well it would withstand the rigours of regular use 'overlanding' but nevertheless an interesting idea. The vehicle we were looking over had good side steps making easy entry to the vehicle. Not sure if these also have a 'rock slider' function.
At the rear, the spare wheel was mounted on the door which had a 'quality feel' to it and opening revealed a cavernous luggage area lined with rubber non slip matting and power points to drive compressors, fridges etc. There is an option for a full height dog / load guard to be mounted behind the rear seats. It would provide a bit more flexibility if there was also an option to move this forward to behind the front seats when the rear seats are dropped to allow more equipment to be carried (Overland / Expedition style). The jack and recovery equipment is stored under the rear luggage compartment floor which requires you to empty the vehicle to get access which can be inconvenient when fully loaded. The electric swing out 50mm ball tow hitch with integral electrics purred into place on demand.
Moving down the left (passenger) side, a pull out / fold down ladder was fitted and appeared to be robustly designed giving access to the roof rack. The rack fitted on the vehicle had open sides, I understand an expedition type roof rack is coming soon.
Compared to the old Defender, the space and comfort inside is amazing. I was surprised by the ample room in the front and the seats were very comfortable - almost sucking you into the seat back. The interior looks generally well finished. I don't know what the noise levels will be like but everything suggested you could very comfortably cover long distances on the black top in this beast. 'Small beans' but the 'Co-drivers' office seems to be short of the handy storage that used to be in the early Discovery's (nets and handy places for maps, passports, carnet etc). Maybe its there but I didn't see it in the few minutes we had - this just reinforced the need to spend some time in it this vehicle on the road (or better off road!). The tinny chiller between the front seats would be very welcome in the deserts of Africa.
Leg room in the back was also very good too. It would be very comfortable for two adults in the back or maybe three children. A fold down table in the back of the front seats would perhaps be good for people travelling in the back. There are grab handles and ample power points throughout the vehicle.
So first impressions are very good. The vehicle looks good, feels robust, is comfortable with plenty of legroom front and rear. A great cavernous luggage space behind the rear seats. I can't wait to drive it but understand it maybe May before the first one's are available to try. The inclusive price of the vehicle we looked at was about £60k which doesn't seem too bad. Its great see a modern Land Rover designed to be a comfortable Overland / Off Road work horse. Not sure I can see a farmer using it to carry sheep in the back though but understand a commercial version is due next year.....!
PS. By the way - I'm told the vehicle website is to be upgraded shortly and then winch and other 'off road' options / accessories should then be available. A heavy duty winch is a safety 'must have' for Tip Toe.
Choosing the right vehicle
We have a real dilemma in the choice of vehicle (and camper trailer) coming here. It appears that the new Defender would be a great vehicle for Tip Toe. It offers greater flexibility than an Expedition truck, better miles per gallon and lower carbon output (environmental impact) and better comfort when driving. However it needs to be partnered with a good camper trailer (maybe a Bruder or Patriot) and this then starts to get expensive. If Land Rover were to offer us a New Defender for Tip Toe, I'd jump at it and then wrestle with the right Camper Trailer issue. An Expedition Truck / Camper generally provides a better living space and would allow us to use a Quad Bike for local running..........