This is the brand new defender 90, I didn't get a chance to drive the 110 yet, so this is my first chance to actually drive the new defender at all.
Now a few years ago when car fiction was still called XCAR, in fact we ran an old defender as a long termer.
Had that car for a year, I spent a lot of time in it, I really got used to it endeared to that defender driving experience and initially just from jumping in.
This already feels really different so now I'm gonna put and drive and for the first time in many years driver defender for the first time this new one.
And it's automatic, it's big difference already.
At the end of the road, turn right.
[LAUGH] And it has sound NAV, there's certain things that you never thought you would see in a defender and built in sound NAV is certainly one of them.
What was previously a no frills cabin experience has been replaced with digital displays as cutting edge, infotainment system, an automatic gearbox, comfortable seats and luxury leather cladding.
There's optional air suspension which makes rough roads feel as smooth as silk and there are various off road modes to help you when the going gets tough.
Then new defender now has a lot more in common with its brethren in the Land Rover lineup.
But how much has it retained?
That's the question I want to answer, I've got some time in this car, this is a P400 version and I'll have access to P300 version a little bit later as well.
Will have on roads, off road, and a little bit of track experience with it just to kind of get a brief but comprehensive suite of driving scenarios with the colour Chesterfield.
How much has changed?
How much a state the same?
And how much I care about both?
The three liter 6 cylinder engine of the P400 with just shy of 400 horsepower and just over 400 pounds Feet of torque.
Married to an 8 speed automatic gearbox, gives you plenty of power out on the road and while the cabin noise is greater than you would expect from a modern Land Rover Product.
It's still way more refined than ever was riding in the old defender, Land Rovers infotainment systems have been a bit hit and miss up until now, but the latest iteration looks great and feels a lot more intuitive than before.
The air suspension, irons out, rougher roads amazingly well, but it does contribute to a bit of body lean in tight, twisty roads.
While that does take away slightly from the overall refinement of the drive on road, it did remind you that despite all of its comfort and curbside appeal, it was built to do something else.
It really does feel like a modern car, but it retains those touches that makes it feel more utilitarian, like a defender.
Still marrying it with our modern sensibilities for what we expect in a quality product, the cabin itself is chunky.
Utilitarian grab handles and expose rivets but also leather clad in softon, fancy, it walks that line really well.
There's little touche is like looking in the rearview mirror and seeing their spare tire bolted to the back.
The Big Chunky Side Mirror seeing the foot tread on the bonnet there that just remind you of what a defender should be an.
Although this leather cladding here in digital displays than somewhat undermined that again on balance, this feels rugged enough.
It certainly feels way more utilitarian of LR or any volk, and this is the core of choice if you actually want to do something properly off road with it.
As part of my driving experience with the defender 90, I got to take it to Land Rover Headquarters and try it out on some of the test trains they have there.
First stop was a High Speed Circuit which allowed me to do something with a defender, I have never done before.
And because 2020 years is what it is inside Land Rover Test Center I had to wear mask at all times, so forgive the slightly muffled speech.
Now the one thing I absolutely never did in our old defender was really put my foot down to see just how fast I could go.
Partially because we're always on normal roads and partially because, well, it's kind of terrifying going really quick in an old defender, yet here at Land Rover's Headquarters, I mean, would put my foot down.
That's 122 miles an hour, this isn't public roads, this is something I never thought I'd ever do in a defender, we are coming up to a bender.
So it's back on the brakes, and even if I break quite firmly, that is not the expectation over have got from firm breaking down to 60 miles an hour from 120 in a defender.
Beyond the high speed section there were a few off road sections that allow me to get my first taste of off road driving in the defender 90.
It allow me to tackle some rougher terrain that's slightly higher speeds than is strictly recommended.
What I found is that the capability to tackle these less than perfect dreams was not in question.
The biggest change in a new defender, however is not.
The plethora of driver aids that are available to you is the fact you can't turn them fully off.
[LAUGH] There's even a jump available for me to try out here.
Now, we've got ESC still switched on going around a bit more of a challenging track off road to see how the terrain response deals with well, difficult driving on difficult terrain all by itself.
Still allows a little bit of slip.
If you had to have fun though, you might want to switch all of that off and on the next lap and that's exactly what I'm going to do.
But for those who just need to get through a terrain as quickly as they can where they don't want to have to do all of the decision making themselves, this actually feels quite well.
And there's a raft of options available to you to switch between, although leave it to its own devices and most of the time it will pick the right one for you.
While trying to push the car into oversteer on some low grip sections for fun.
If you had just too much steering lock applied even with as much of the driver aids turned off as possible, the Defender still cuts the power provoking under steer.
With more time I could have probably dialed in my technique and tried to provoke oversteer with more throttle and less steering, but it's clear that the days are fully unassisted driving in Land Rovers is behind us.
Nevertheless, it was time to take the Defender 90 summer to really test it's off road capability.
Okay, so fair enough.
The new Defender has been equipped or at least has the option of being equipped with a lot of driver aids that make driving a car like this in challenging conditions so much easier.
But it would be nice to strip it back.
So this I've jumped in a P300, so it's the smaller engine and this is just on coils, so no air suspension in this car.
So this car is a stripped down as you can possibly get in the new Defender, and in fact as close to the older Defender as you can make the car.
And I'm here at Eastnor Castle.
Land Rover have had a presence at Eastnor Castle since the early 60s, and it's a great proving ground for the off road capability of Defender and all Land Rover products.
There's some terrain here that Land Rover used in over ten years, but they've opened it up for the launch of the 90 Defender.
So now we get a chance to take the new Defender off road in some really challenging off road terrain with a few driver aids as we can possibly equip this car with.
Is it still fun to drive off road?
Is it still a challenge?
Can it still tackle anything we throw at it?
Let's find out.
Avid viewers of the channel have maybe followed us since the X car days will remember our Defender Diaries when we ran at 2014 Defender for about a year and I took it here to Eastnor.
I took off road and put it through some really challenging terrain and had a blast doing it, but I had to learn how to use the engine to do all the trickery that is now being given as options in electronics.
Will this car still give you that amount of challenge?
Now, the old Defender could get through this, no problem.
However, you would not remain dry.
You would let in water, you get soggy socks and although you make it through the other end, you would look as bad on the inside of the car would on the outside.
So far, new Defender., water tight.
Hill descent control has been a modern addition to Land Rover products for quite some time, and although it wasn't something that was available in the old Defender, it does make a lot of sense to have it in there.
Learning to drive down these really sleepy off road trains downhill in an old school car like the old Defender was tricky.
I had to rely on the high engine compression, the low range gearbox really let the car mechanically figure out.
In fact, don't use the brakes at all.
The brakes will be the last thing you want to touch, you modulate your speed with the throttle, not letting the wheels lock up whenever you sense that you do a bit more throttle just to make sure you kept moving and kept control.
But now the new Defender has hill descent control and electronic aid to help you with it.
So it should be no throttle, no brakes, point and let the car figure out 50-50 whether its mechanical nature with the low range gearbox or whether it's digital from the hill descent control.
But the car should get down.
Wow, that is a steep drop [LAUGH].
There we go.
What the [BLEEP]?
[LAUGH] Although a lot of this terrain could be tackled by save a discovery, there are sections that are pretty much only the realm of the Defender.
One such area are the camel dips, named after the legendary camel trophy.
Let's see how we do, Ginger Lynn?
Keep it going, keep it going, keep it going, keep going [INAUDIBLE].
These sections required the most driver know how to add to the capability of the Defender to negotiate.
That was mainly knowing what speed to tackle them with, and that violently steering left and right could actually help you steer for traction and literally help the car crawl out of trouble.
All right we go slowly in, keep the wheels straight so easy to lose track of the real power, power, power up the top [SOUND] [LAUGH].
So those are some of the dips here that pretty much only the Defender ever could tackle, and it's good to see that the new 90 can tackle it just fine as well.
Slow in, bit of forced to come out, yes the car is doing a bit more than I like it to do, I'm still having a lot of fun [SOUND].
Obviously, the moment you give a cocky piece the camera, the next thing you immediately do is get stuck.
But stuck is rarely properly stuck in a Defender and a quick backup and a second attempt got me back out.
So yes, new Defender does have more bells and whistles can hold your hand a little bit more.
But sometimes you still need to go old school that steering for traction was the bit that got me out of those dips, you still have to put in the muscle work.
Yeah, not everything relies on your ability as a driver, but there's still some work to be done.
This is where the Defender had to shine, and it did exactly that.
When I previously took our old Defender there, I needed an instructor in the car with me.
I needed to get out and look at each obstacle ahead of time, assess the best way to tackle it, plan every part of how I would do so, and then proceed.
Now the extra capability the driver aids give you allow someone with just basic off road capability to get themselves through almost anything.
That's not to say that it's completely idiot proof, but you'd certainly have to go out of your way to undo the new Defender.
All in all, it was incredibly clear that the new Defender has lost absolutely nothing in terms of off road capability.
In my short time with the new Defender 90 have managed to cram in quite a lot of different types of driving.
From motor way to country backroads, small villages, bitter greenlining, vast variety of off roading in different terrains in different difficulties, and even some high speed stuff out on a test track.
And it's fair to say that the new Defender still holds that place in the Land Rover lineup of the most capable car.
There are still some compromises to its comfort and noise, but everything that it's brought with it as a modern car help elevate it way beyond what the old Defender was.
What have we lost?
Maybe some of the ruggedness in the looks, but none of the capability of what it could do off road.
The challenges we threw it this afternoon out here this now show that not only can this car do everything the old Defender it did.
It can probably go places that car couldn't, that's all down to the extra help the cars now able to give you as a driver an some might say that that takes away from the essence of driving a Defender.
And yes, if you only ever drove one for fun to really challenge yourself, then maybe this isn't the car for you.
But in terms of a car that can go anywhere and do anything the Defender 90 has satisfied me completely.
And as good as the new Defender looks, and it looks brilliant when it's clean.
It looks 10 times better when it's muddy.