Land Rover’s two-door Defender 90 is finally in South Africa, following the availability of the Defender 110 that went on sale last year. The Defender 90 arrived this June, and it is referred to as the New Defender, to differentiate from the original, old school version.
The New Defender is packed with tech, similar to what I’ve become familiar with through other Land Rover models, like the Discovery and Velar. Some of you may recall, I took the Defender 110 on a weekend away and wrote about it here:
Model: HSE X-Dynamic 3L 6-cylinder, Twin Turbocharged Diesel (Auto), AWD
Output: 221kW; 650Nm.
Top Speed: 191km/h; 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds.
Standard Features include: Terrain response; hill descent control; hill launch assist; electronic power steering and traction control; electric windows; electric parking brake; heated rear windows with timer; follow me home lighting; brake pad wear indicator; full size spare wheel; two zone climate control; extended leather upgrade; driver assist pack; emergency braking; wade sensing; rear ISOFIX; intrusion sensor; power operated child locks.
Standard tech: 3D surround cameras; 360-degree parking aid; ClearSight rear view mirror; keyless entry; Android Auto; Apple CarPlay; Interactive driver display; 12V power socket in boot; trip computer; Pivi Pro.
Extras: Off Road Pack – R18 500; Air Suspension Pack – R48 600; Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack – R11 300; Comfort & Convenience – R5 400.
Interiors: 3 Zone Climate Control – R6 000; Air Quality Sensor – R900; Cabin filter – R1 500; Activity Key – R5 100; Head-Up Display – R20 100; Meridian Sound System – R17 300.
Base model Defender 90 – R1 365 900
Options added – R165 000
Total – R1 530 900
A closer look at the Defender 90
I was quite excited to receive the two-door Defender because it is more suited to my lifestyle and two person household. It can be configured to a six seater when you use the online custom builder and choose a jump seat in the front. It also has a shorter wheelbase when compared to the four-door Defender 110.
It comes in four different models: a base Defender S, X-Dynamic, First Edition, and top of the line Defender X, with four engine options: D240, D300, P300, P400.
The entry-level Defender S comes standard with LED headlights with auto high beam assist, keyless entry, Ebony grained leather with woven textile seat facings, Pivi Pro 10” touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an interactive driver display.
For the X-Dynamic Defender 90 D300 I drove, I was familiar with the insides and interface; I found it easy to toggle between the driving modes as required, and access information on the instrument cluster. No matter what driving style you have, the drive always feels refined. It’s comfortable and you don’t feel anything you’d normally feel in a smaller car.
A favourite feature is still the ClearSight rear view camera that switches between an HD camera and a good old fashioned mirror. For the moments that you need to check you don’t have anything stuck in your teeth or a lipstick check before heading out (let’s be real), you just flick the toggle beneath the mirror.
Another favourite feature is the built-in cooler/mini fridge that holds about four cans. If you’re heading on a road trip, you don’t have to worry about drinking anything warm. It also has two cup holders in the centre console, and plenty of space to store stuff. Like your mask, keys, cables, remotes etc. I like the additional nooks for the driver that I used for my gate remotes. It’s a small thing that most people won’t consider, but ergonomically, it just made sense reaching forward to access it.
What about space?
I found the Defender 90 to be spacious in the front and at the back. The seats have buttons so you can electronically move the seats forwards and backwards. It’s really easy to get in and it has cup holders in the centre backrest. The pic below shows you the drivers seat all the way back and for my height at 1.7m, it’s roomy.
Regarding going on road-trips, the boot is sufficient for two. I put my hand luggage bag in to illustrate (if you’re doing an airport run, you can just put the seats down for larger bags, it’s what I do on my Mini). It can fit comfortably standing or sleeping, with other bags being loaded on top of it or next to it.
The seats are very easy to operate and fold down flat, you don’t need help. I like how the boot opens like a door – does this make it a 3-door vehicle then? It’s easy for packing groceries etc.
I know in SA people love seeing they are getting more car for their money and with the Defender 90, you’re buying it because you have a small family and no kids. It’s comfortable with 4 other adults considering this is a five seater configuration, though I am curious about the jump seat to take it to a 6-seater and how it would work in a real-life situation.
In all likelihood, I’d go for the above model because of the extra space to put your stuff in the front. Besides, it’s not a normal thing for SA cars to have 3 seats in the front.
Don’t forget the tech
The Defender 90 has the latest 10″ Pivi Pro infotainment system, with its own data connection so you can update software over the air (OTA). While I was testing it, the car needed its infotainment system to be updated and all it required was 40 mins, while the car was switched off. I didn’t sit around to see how long it took because I just followed instructions and went off to do some work. It asks you to shut the vehicle off and close the doors.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, as well as driver cameras for reversing and then your typical 360-degree cameras around it. I loved this feature so I could manoeuvre out of my new driveway properly and see things the eye can’t see. So convenient.
I’ve touched on the Pivi Pro infotainment before, but it’s new with a fresh layout, you can save different profiles, edit the layout and apps, use dark mode, etc. It’s more like interacting with a smartphone.
Between the front and back, there are plenty of ports to charge things. Like there are more ports available than humans can fit into the vehicle. Behind the front seats for the passengers that are USB ports that suit putting your own tablet up there, along with separate charging ports. It has both USB-A and USB-C and those 12V ones.
And then my favourite one is at the back, the 230V two pin plug one. If you’re on the road, you can basically plug your hair dryer, charger your Macbook, plug a portable induction cooker, etc. I mean, the list is endless.
The Defender 90 has a very niche appeal. It’s for adventurous folk who don’t have big families and want that touch of luxury from a brand like Land Rover. It’s a lifestyle and once you’re part of that family, you can’t go back. (I know this because my old neighbour drove an Evoque, got a new Evoque and then eight months later – after I had a Defender 110 on test – he upgrades to a Defender 110! I credit myself for his upgrade).
It’s also a chance to own a reimagined classic but with all the tech and latest features you can expect from a luxury SUV type vehicle. Updates are OTA, it has its own SIM card, convenience features are aplenty. I love integrating gadgets in my life the same way I love integrating the tech in cars in to my life. I just hopped into the Defender and made use of all the tech because it’s there and didn’t require much effort.
The two things I wasn’t thrilled about was the roof not having a glass, you open the cloth roof directly to air; woulda preferred a glass for light when it’s rainy or a dull day, and then (this is minor but more for the people at the back) the back seat window gets used up by the way it is designed, so it’s mostly covered. But I feel like they did compensate by adding more window cut outs (check my Reel below).
That said, I absolutely loved driving this car, in its diesel variant. If I’m honest, it’s something I would and could see myself driving one day and if I to pick, I’d likely choose a petrol version (or maybe we can look forward to an EV?)
Here’s a fun Reel I made about the Defender 90; peep the fridge with my drinks!
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Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org