After more than three years, my wife and I decided to scrape all our camping gear together and to hit our favourite place, the Cederberg Mountains, for a weekend of camping. Feeling like newbies to the camping scene, we packed this Land Rover Defender 90 (2.0l Turbopetrol, 8-speed automatic) to the roof with gear.
Appropriately kitted out with the R62 627 (optional extra) Explorer Pack, 18” Steel wheels, off road tyres, folding fabric sunroof and black roof rails (R2000 extra), we were feeling rather ambitious to take on the Cape to Cairo route.
On the open road, the 177kW (at 4000 rpm) / 430 Nm (at 1400 rpm), 4 cylinder twin turbodiesel engine resulted in a quiet and low revolution (2000 rpm) note at 120km/h. The only noise came from the wind through the roofrails, being pushed down onto the soft top sunroof. This became quite noisy at 110km/h.
Yet, for a two people excursion and while Mr Putin keeps up with his antics, it might be a wiser choice to remove the roof rails as it may also result in a fuel consumption above 10 liters per 100km. Taking on two additional passengers might require a need for the roof rails, which can carry around 118kg. Flattening the second row seats will result in the 297 litre loadspace improving to 1563 litre.
The twin turbo diesel Defender 90 might only reach the 100km/h mark from standstill in 9 seconds, it can overtake strings of slow traffic on the open road in a heartbeat, thanks to the adequate amount of torque and seamless gearshifts at low rpm.
Land Rover might just have to rethink the positioning of the ‘hazard’ button as it now quickly becomes a frequent tool to thank passing cars (unlike the old Defenders, which were the one who had to give way to faster traffic).
Turning off from the N7 onto the gravel Algeria road, the Defender came into its own. With a ground clearance of 216mm (capable of 291mm due to the air suspension), the meandering and zinkplaat road proved no challenge to the Defender. The Defender 90 even has an approach angle of 30 degrees and a massive departure angle of 37,6 degrees, meaning that the Defender 90 is a serious off roader.
To further enhance its 4×4 capabilities, the Defender 90 comes standard with features such as terrain response, electric power assisted steering, electronic traction control, hill descent control, high and low range, dynamic stability control, roll stability control, brake hold, hill launch assist, low traction launch and cornering brake control.
Land Rover has hit the nail on its head with the new Defender range. While the Defender is still a very capable 4×4, a luxurious interior (with all the latest technological gimmicks) still makes this car feel like a luxurious SUV. The new Defender takes on the perfect balance between meticulous luxury as well as being an all-conquering 4×4.
While the Defender 90, might be much smaller than the 5-door 110 variants, the 2.0 litre twin turbo diesel engine fits this shorter wheelbase more appropriately as it do not have to haul around so much weight. While the 90 is also perfect for 2 four people on a short excursion (with the roof rails), the 90 was more than adequate for me and my wife.
Our only requests would be for Land Rover to fit a ‘false floor’ in the rear as the rear seats don’t fall flat into the floor. This may make it difficult to pack larger equipment effectively.
Lastly, while the soft-top panoramic sunroof might be nice for slow game drivers in the Kruger, the wind noise it generates on the open road, might result in us either opting for the hard roof.
At R1 095 600 as a standard price (R1 359 631 with the optional extra’s), both of us, however, decided that the Defender 90 is on our new car purchase radar in the future. Personally, I would much rather spend this money on an all-conquering vehicle, rather than an irrelevant sporty-SUV, which can only go fast from 0-100km/h and sending your chiropractor into a happy early retirement.