Reviews

Land Rover Defender 110 - Driven - On and Off-Road

Posted on 04-12-2021 by Suraj Dhirwani

3 | 1298
Brands: Land Rover
Category: Reviews

A legendary SUV and true off-roader in its second-generation avatar, after 30 years of being in production. Is it worthy of the title? Can it Defend its position?


Video Review

Indians love SUVs – the fact that most manufacturers are aware of and have cashed in – some later than never. The term SUV has been thrown about for almost every other car with a marginally raised ground clearance and some amount of body cladding. Some don’t even have tyres big enough to fill out their flared wheel arches.

But – crossovers and softroaders alike, the Indian market is flooded with cars that call themselves SUVs… Sports Utility Vehicle.

In the Premium and Luxury car segment, we can think of many vehicles that justify the ‘Sports’ part of the SUV. But the ‘U’ – the Utility is barely found in most.

Some manufacturers are honest about it and don’t use the ‘U’ in their acronyms. 

But that doesn’t change the fact, that only a handful of vehicles can genuinely justify the ‘U’ in the SUV.

What is the Utility – of an SUV, after all?

Must it be big? Must it be boxy? Should it look rugged? Should it have big wheels? Is a tail-mounted spare wheel compulsory? Should it have a short overhang? Should it have AT/MT/RT tyres? What makes an SUV.

The answer is in the Utility of the vehicle. The SUV is a car that can go beyond what standard vehicles can, and it can do so while carrying various goods and passengers. Therein lies the Utility of these vehicles. 

The straightforward Utility of such a vehicle was the need of the hour in the World Wars. The need for a car that can go where there are no roads. This necessity gave rise to the invention of the SUV, and every country had at least one automobile manufacturer who made one such SUV that is legendary for its ability to be an SUV. The Americans have their Jeep, the British have Land Rover, the Japanese have Toyota, and the Germans have Mercedes G. Yes, there are many other brands from all these countries and other manufacturers that have made highly competent and reliable SUVs. But, arguably, these are the ones that most Indians associate with the term SUVs.

The other thing that is common to all of them is that the road-legal version is usually the civilian variant of what was once acclaimed for its role during wars.

One such legendary vehicle that has served its purpose during war times and also across countless rescue missions in various parts of the world is the Land Rover Defender. 

While it wasn’t the flagship model of the Land Rover and Range Rover series, it was known as the best Land Rover. With over 2 million of them produced until 2016, when production of the first generation Land Rover Defender ceased. For 30 years, the car and its multiple variants proved utilitarian from the farms of Cotswold U.K., across the plains of Kenya, Africa, and through the freezing terrains of Sweden and the hilly drives of Sandakphu, India.

What a task it must have been for the team designated to re-design, re-engineer, re-invent this legendary, iconic, true blue SUV – the Land Rover Defender.

Ever since the first shots broke cover, I will be honest; I was awestruck. 

But, I wondered, with all the modernization, will this new generation of the Land Rover Defender remain as rugged, as well-built, as tough as the legend?

As I embarked on my first drive with the Defender, my only thought was – is this the beast that can make a seamless switch from the urban jungle to the real one?

Let’s find out.

We have the Land Rover Defender 110 P300 Dynamic SE model with us today.

Click here to know more about the Land Rover Defender 90



It would be unfair to label this brute of an SUV as boxy simply. That's a term that suited the previous-gen Land Rover Defender. While the designers have done a fantastic job of retaining some of the most iconic elements from the last-gen, the new Land Rover Defender, there are more than enough contemporary elements in the design.

The presence is unmistakable, and the stance is spot on for a vehicle that means business. Retaining the element of circular headlights from the old Defender, the new model has carried on with a similar pattern flanked by DRLs. The headlamps are LED lamps, no less. The fog lamps are much lower down and are well recessed to avoid being hit by stones or bushes that one may be crossing through. These are LEDs too. The front bumper and the area extending till the front wheel arches have six parking sensors in all. There is also the front camera on the grille. The muscular bonnet with a power bulge and blackened mascot says Defender with pride and class. 

The side profile is clean lines with no jarring cuts or creases. Yet, many elements give that refined touch. For example, the door handles are thick and very sturdy. All four door handles get a request sensor, although this seems away from the lock position. The length of the vehicle is quite evident in this angle, and the rear is visible straight, especially from the side profile. The ORVMs are enormous and offer good visibility and a camera in each of them, and logo projection.

There is an extra layer applique near the C pillar, and the Land Rover logo is present here too. This area is used ideally by optional accessories such as the panniers or extendable ladder. Unfortunately, our test vehicle did not have any such accessories fitted. 

The rear is predominantly covered with the spare wheel mounted on the tailgate. The tailgate houses a soft-close feature as well as a unique hydraulic lock to ensure it does not swing away and stays in place when open, at the same angle as needed. The led tail lamps are two squircles flanked with another pair of smaller squircles on the outer side. These look distinct and very pretty to watch at night. There are another four sensors at the rear and a camera below the spare wheel. There is no footstep to climb into since it could foul with the departure angle.
The roof has a massive panoramic sunroof and a single shark fin antenna for communication. This shark fin antenna also houses the 5th camera, which provides a live feed in the IRVM as the 'Clear Sight' feature.

The ground clearance is variable - since ride height is electronically adjustable. This makes the approach and departure angles change too. The best part is that these are visible to the driver with a few clicks - more in the ICE section.

Ground Clearance: 8.6 inches to 11.5 inches
Maximum Wading Depth: 35.4 inches
Approach Angle: 30.1 to 38.0 degrees
Breakover Angle: 22.0 to 28.0 degrees
Departure Angle: 37.7 to 40.0 degrees
Wheelbase: 118.9 inches


The cabin of the Land Rover Defender is a great place to be in. The two main reasons for that are the visual inputs and the aural delights.

Visually the 10.1-inch PiVi Pro infotainment system that is the centrepiece is just striking. The display is sharp, hi-res, and very useful. It is very responsive and fluid to use. The animations are smooth, lag-free, and very enjoyable.

This display is a full touch screen and controls every aspect of the car. It shows a lot of relevant information with just a few taps. 

The system supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

When the car moves, the screen is divided into three vertical sections for Navigation, Telephony, and Music. These tiles are customizable as you dive into each of these apps, the surface of the relevant options. This is when not engaged in Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

When the car is crawling, the same screen makes optimal use of all the parking sensors in the front and back of the vehicle to give a very accurate and helpful warning of obstacles or objects too close to the car.

The highlight of this system has to be the very clever use of 360-degree cameras. Using the four cameras - 1 in the front, 1 in the rear, and 1 in each ORVM. the PiVi Pro infotainment system provides four distinct views. First, the 'On-Road' view offers a direct feed. Then there is the 'Off-Road' view which has two options.

You get a live feed from the front camera and ORVM cameras altogether in the first one. These are placed side by side to notice objects or rocks in front of your car before you hit them and monitor both your wheels and their position.

The second view provides the 'path' and approach route based on your steering input with adaptive guidelines and front wheels. 

 Both of these are very useful and practical when off-road. 

In addition to this, 9 to 12 different views of the car give a complete picture for the person sitting inside without having to ask a "spotter" outside the car.

But that's not all. A fifth camera is mounted on top of the vehicle in the shark fin antenna. Flicking a simple switch on the IRVM converts the normal auto-dimming IRVM into a screen. This screen relays a live feed from the 5th camera. Land Rover calls this Clear Sight, and we wish other manufacturers have the foresight to start including this in their cars. There's simply no going back. The primary purpose of Clear Sight is to give you a functional IRVM even if your boot is loaded up to the top with goods.

There is a stellar sounding 12 speaker Meridian system with these screens providing visual inputs. The sheer tuning of the system offers an unparalleled aural experience for every passenger. The system is tweaked to ensure the music remains clear and all the speakers provide an output based on the number of passengers and their position. The dual-channel subwoofer provides clean bass with sharp vocals from the speakers. In addition, the 'sense' of music being played is amplified with Meridian's TriField 3D technology.  

Stepping into the interiors is a breeze with the wide doors and oodles of space on offer. The vehicle height is lowered for entry. The first thing that will grab your eye in the interiors is the exposed bolt heads/screw heads present everywhere - from the centre console to the door pads. These, like everything else in the car, have a functional element.

The next thing is the sheer number of grab handles available in the car - both in the front seat and the rear seat, to remind you of the primary purpose of this vehicle.

The dashboard is clean and minimal. The entire AC control area is further clubbed with the off-road function buttons. The gear selector is a small stubby lever mounted next to the AC controls on the dashboard. The lack of a typical rotary dial as a gear selector knob is missing. The reason to have all of these pushed right against the dash is that the centre console and armrest can be replaced with a third seat in the front row. This is an optional extra.

All the buttons are big, well indicated, back-lit, and have an excellent tactile feel.

There are a lot of hard plastics all over the area. The use of white hard plastic in the steering wheel and on the dashboard is surprising and appealing. It offers a good feel and shows visual variation. The Defender is spelt out on the dashboard towards the passenger side.

 Ambient lighting is present throughout the car, and this is programmable from the infotainment system. The dashboard's centre comprises the 10.1-inch PiVi pro touch screen infotainment system. This screen is pushed out for easy reach and has a space behind it. The steering wheel is significant but manageable. Instead of the previous-gen Land Rover steering with changing icons and capacitive touch, the Defender gets a more functional unit with hard plastics and clicky tactile feel buttons. The steering controls are back-lit and allow almost every car's function to be controlled. 

The wiper and indicator stalks are very well-built and have a metal tip. Probably the only silver that stands out in the cabin. 

The display area behind the steering wheel or the central console is fully digital with customizable screens.

There are no paddle shifters or HeadsUp Display present.

Most touchpoints are covered in leather and finished well. Many clever bits are added all over the cabin to make it silent, smooth, and refined. Even the seat belt socket is covered with soft felt to ensure it does not rattle or scrape against the centre channel while swaying during an off-road excursion. 

The seats are comfortable, large, and offer great support and bolstering. Both front seats are mechanically operated but are neither heated nor ventilated. The functions are limited, and there is no extendable under-thigh support, unlike some other cars in the price range.

The rear seats - or the middle row - are reclinable and fully foldable. Three people can sit abreast comfortable with no knees fouling or shoulders brushing. There is a retractable armrest with cup holders if only two passengers are in the middle row.

The third-row seats are cleverly integrated into the boot. But there is no compromise for third-row occupants. They get two headrests, AC blower control, charging point, and bottle holders. In addition, these seats are quick-fold and have a hard plastic as their back which integrates perfectly with the boot.

All door pockets have ample space to accommodate plenty of bottles and other items. Unfortunately, none of the doors had an umbrella holder. 

The centre armrest is a fridge and not just another 'cooled' bin. There are close to 12 charging points and 12V output sockets throughout the car, from the front console to the boot. There’s also a wireless charger just below the armrest.

Everything about the interior screams utility and practicality more than a luxury. However, whether it is the removable rubber covering over the front cup holders or the rubberized grips inside the cup holders, all of this does not negate the excellent use of leather and very comfortable, plush cabin quality.


The cabin of the Land Rover Defender is a great place to be in. The two main reasons for that are the visual inputs and the aural delights.

Visually the 10.1-inch PiVi Pro infotainment system that is the centrepiece is just striking. The display is sharp, hi-res, and very useful. It is very responsive and fluid to use. The animations are smooth, lag-free, and very enjoyable.

This display is a full touch screen and controls every aspect of the car. It shows a lot of relevant information with just a few taps. 

The system supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

When the car moves, the screen is divided into three vertical sections for Navigation, Telephony, and Music. These tiles are customisable as you dive into each of these apps, the surface of the relevant options. This is when not engaged in Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

When the car is crawling, the same screen makes optimal use of all the parking sensors in the front and back of the vehicle to give a very accurate and helpful warning of obstacles or objects too close to the car.

The highlight of this system has to be the very clever use of 360-degree cameras. Using the four cameras - 1 in the front, 1 in the rear, and 1 in each ORVM. the PiVi Pro infotainment system provides four distinct views. First, the 'On-Road' view offers a direct feed. Then there is the 'Off-Road' view which has two options.

You get a live feed from the front camera and ORVM cameras altogether in the first one. These are placed side by side to notice objects or rocks in front of your car before you hit them and monitor both your wheels and their position.

The second view provides the path and approach route based on your steering input with adaptive guidelines and front wheels. 

 Both of these are very useful and practical when off-road. 

In addition to this, 9 to 12 different views of the car give a complete picture for the person sitting inside without having to ask a 'spotter' outside the car.

But that's not all. A fifth camera is mounted on top of the vehicle in the shark fin antenna. Flicking a simple switch on the IRVM converts the normal auto-dimming IRVM into a screen. This screen relays a live feed from the 5th camera. Land Rover calls this Clear Sight, and we wish other manufacturers have the foresight to start including this in their cars. There is simply no going back. The primary purpose of Clear Sight is to give you a functional IRVM even if your boot is loaded up to the top with goods.

There is a stellar sounding 12 speaker Meridian system with these screens providing visual inputs. The sheer tuning of the system offers an unparalleled aural experience for every passenger. The system is tweaked to ensure the music remains clear and all the speakers provide an output based on the number of passengers and their position. The dual-channel subwoofer provides clean bass with sharp vocals from the speakers. In addition, the 'sense' of music being played is amplified with Meridian's TriField 3D technology.  



The Land Rover Defender 100 in India is the P300 variant equipped with a 2.0-litre turbocharged Petrol engine. This engine produces 300 hp, as the terminology suggests. Looking at the vehicle's heft as a first impression, most drivers would find this inadequate. But looks can be deceptive. No, it is not that the Defender is light. But the engine is very well-tuned. The petrol engine is very refined and manages its duties perfectly well for this car. There is minimal turbo lag, and sure there is no burst of acceleration beyond 4500 to 5000 RPM. But that does not make the engine slouch. A simple dab of the A-pedal is enough to give it the power needed for overcoming a small obstacle or steep incline.

For an overtake at triple-digit speeds, no, a simple dab won't do. Instead, you have to put your foot down.

Fortunately, the engine is mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox that does not hesitate to downshift. The gearbox is never confused, and you will find yourself in the right gear without any drama. The gear shifts are smooth.

On the topic of A-pedal inputs, the Land Rover Defender can do without those too! With a special crawl mode for off-road trails, the vehicle can keep going up or down a hill without any input from your end. What's more, you can manually set the desired speed in this mode, just as you can in cruise control. An occasional tap of the brakes is all that is needed, and in no time, you would be on the other side of the hillock.

Power did not feel inadequate, even when fully loaded. No doubt, the petrol engine is refined, but the cabin NVH levels are just fantastic. Even with AT tyres and off-road crawling, there is barely any audible feedback inside the cabin.

The Land Rover Defender 110 also comes with a 300 hp Diesel engine and, in international markets, gets a 400 HP 3.0L petrol engine. Additionally, a plug-in hybrid variant is expected soon.



Ordinarily, one expects a hardcore off-road vehicle to be stiff, bouncy, and have an overall harsh ride quality. But then again, this is the Land Rover Defender. It is not just an SUV. It is a premium SUV. 

With air suspension, all around the ride quality is just fantastic on any terrain. So whether you are on the highway and suddenly pass an under-construction patch or if you have to get off the road to take a detour, the Land Rover Defender will not fail to impress you.

The cabin is silent and very comfortable. One cannot hear the suspension doing its work. 

It is well planted and stable even at high speeds, given the size.

Yes, since it is a tall and top-heavy vehicle, there is a fair bit of body roll. But since it is a monocoque, the body-roll does not unsettle either the driver or the passenger.

Remember to switch 'off' the off-road mode once you hit a highway since the ride height will need to be lowered for optimal performance.

Given the size of the vehicle and knowing that its primary use is off-road, one would be willing to forgive the lack of on-road handling. But there is no need for such exceptions with the Land Rover Defender. It is quite reassuring and fun to drive. The steering does not feel vague or disconnected even with AT tyres. On the contrary, it seems pretty precise, which is corroborated by the visual inputs present on the screens. Switching lanes even at speeds above 60 kmph did not unsettle the big beast. 

Given the torque on offer, lockable differential, 4x4 mode, and the host of electronic technology that manage to deliver the right amount of power to each wheel – it is no surprise that the Land Rover Defender is easily drivable into a river landing and out of a stream (up to 900 mm water wading).

It does not feel strained or tired even as a tourer with a fully loaded luggage bay and five occupants. On the contrary, cruising all day long is comfortable for all passengers. Still, it deserves to be taken off the regular tarmac and on to the less trodden path at the first possible opportunity.


If the primary question is – can I drive this car daily? The answer is a resounding Yes. The vehicle has all the bells and whistles, is relatively modern, comfortable for the family, rides well, and performs optimally.

Small caveat: If you are not going to go ‘off-road’ or explore new terrain or go through some extreme patches, then you can get more luxury at the same price. 

 It would be a waste of talent (the Defender’s) to use it as a chauffeur-driven car for going to your office in a corporate hub.

So then, if the main question here is – can it perform well off-road? Then it's an even bigger YES! This is probably the king of SUVs when it comes to performing off-road. Coming with legendary prowess and pedigree, it just simply goes through whatever you throw at it, Rock, mud, gravel, snow, steep inclines – no problem. It does it all without a fuss, in style, and is loaded with appropriate tech for the same.

So, what are we asking here? There’s nary a doubt on the capabilities of any Land Rover. Others from that family can make your journey more comfortable and luxurious. The Defender is for the epic trips to places where the roads can’t take you because there are no roads!

To know more about the History of Land Rover and the Defender click here.

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  1. I don't think most people in India truly understand SUVs. What is written about pseudo-SUV is so true. Any car slightly raised they call SUV. But I don't see where people will actually use Defender in India.

  2. SUV’s need to be Diesel’s have been the traditional way off looking at them. But this SUV breaks that myth and how. However, I am not too sure in real world, what kind of fuel efficiency this one will come out with.

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The Verdict

If the primary question is – can I drive this car daily? The answer is a resounding Yes. The vehicle has all the bells and whistles, is relatively modern, comfortable for the family, rides well, and performs optimally.

Small caveat: If you are not going to go ‘off-road’ or explore new terrain or go through some extreme patches, then you can get more luxury at the same price. 

 It would be a waste of talent (the Defender’s) to use it as a chauffeur-driven car for going to your office in a corporate hub.

So then, if the main question here is – can it perform well off-road? Then it's an even bigger YES! This is probably the king of SUVs when it comes to performing off-road. Coming with legendary prowess and pedigree, it just simply goes through whatever you throw at it, Rock, mud, gravel, snow, steep inclines – no problem. It does it all without a fuss, in style, and is loaded with appropriate tech for the same.

So, what are we asking here? There’s nary a doubt on the capabilities of any Land Rover. Others from that family can make your journey more comfortable and luxurious. The Defender is for the epic trips to places where the roads can’t take you because there are no roads!

To know more about the History of Land Rover and the Defender click here.


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