Land Rover treats New Zealand to a Defender First Edition
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The new Land Rover Defender has given us a lot of adventure already. In early March we pounded it across Namibia as part of a three-day international drive event; “Defenders in Africa” surely counts as a bucket-list trip by any measure.
The other exciting bit was getting home to New Zealand, as it became clear that Covid-19 really started to take hold across the globe. Which made the whole Namibia thing seem even more surreal.
Anyway, Defender has now arrived in NZ and Land Rover has held one of the first physical motoring-media events since lockdown. That’s right: we all fronted up in person and actually got to drive the thing.
Drive the thing off-road, mind. We did 800km in Namibia and didn’t touch tarmac once. For the Kiwi event, it was a day in rural Franklin mixing it up with some muddy farmland - only a couple of kays on the sealed stuff en route to the drive location.
So we’ve travelled around the world, driven Defender twice… and still haven’t gone on-road!
That does make sense. Land Rover is keen to show off the Defender’s USP and off-roading is not always an easy thing to do on your own road-test time. Giving media the opportunity to see what the new model can do in its natural habitat is priority one for the company.
And we’ve been promised some proper on-road experience very soon.
In the meantime, will it surprise you to hear that the Defender is as astonishingly capable and easy to drive in the rural sludge of NZ as it is on the sand and rocks of Namibia?
It lives up to that Defender name in terms of ability and toughness, but given it’s the first all-new model in over 70 years it also makes a staggering leap forward in terms of technology, comfort and refinement.
We’ve had local range and pricing information since last year, but the local launch has brought a bit more detail. We’re starting with the 110 five-door, with the short-wheelbase 90 to follow early next year and ultimately a 130 long-wheelbase eight-seater.
You can have your 110 as a base D200 (that’s “D” for diesel, with “P” for petrol higher up the range) at $89,900, D240 S ($107,900), D240/P300/P400 SE ($114,900-$126,900) and the flagship P400 X ($164,900, arriving in November).
The D200/D240 turbo-diesel and P300 turbo-petrol engines are all 2.0-litre fours. The top P400 is a 3.0-litre straight six with 48-volt mild hybrid system.
The star of the launch-range is the First Edition, which will be available for the remainder of 2020: D240 ($125,900) or P400 ($137,900).
Building from the SE specification, buyers pick up around $5000 worth of gear, including First Edition branding, a black contrast roof with panoramic glass, Black Exterior Pack, special “gloss sparkle” 20-inch wheels, heated rear seats, ClearSight interior rearview mirror, Matrix LED headlights and the most advanced version of Land Rover’s off-road drive-mode system, called Terrain Response 2.
However, even putting the First Edition aside, there are endless opportunities for personalisation. There are four pre-configured accessory packs: Urban, Adventure (including an awesome side-mounted gear carrier), Explorer and Country.
Not to mention the more technology targeted equipment packages: Driver Assist, Advanced Off-Road, Cold Climate, and Comfort and Convenience.
Or the possible seating configurations. Five chairs are standard, but there’s a “jump seat” option for the front that makes the Defender a six-seater, or a “5+2” setup similar to the Range Rover Sport. And there will be that eight-seat 130 at the end of next year.
Land Rover NZ has already sold 100 of its first shipment of 115 Defenders. There’s a lot of pent-up demand for this car that Covid-19 cannot quell.
The most popular model at the moment is the D240 SE, followed by the P400 SE (the two versions we drove on the launch day). The Explorer Pack ($10k) is the most popular option by far.
The range is so comprehensive, you could argue that the Defender potentially ticks every possible box for a premium SUV buyer. You can have a very functional off-road vehicle (complete with steel wheels if you so choose), a family-friendly wagon, or in the form of the flagship X, a very posh-looking machine that could almost wear a “Range Rover” badge.
So bring it on. We’re very keen to go for a drive. On the road.