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2021 Land Rover Defender Review, First Drive

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The Land Rover Defender. The iconic SUV from the manufacturer that aims to take on the likes of the Mercedes G-Wagon and Jeep Wrangler is something we waited for a long time. JLR India has an aggressive strategy of launching a lot of SUV’s to meet the undying market requirement for SUV’s. This SUV is no different either. Defender is entirely new this time around and it is known for its all-around capability including the top-class off-road ability. Something we will try later, but this time we spent time on the road with it.

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Be it on the inside and outside, Defender has what it takes to impress a set of consumers. There is a lot to talk about the Defender as we need to find out how it has come of age and how it plans on to take its rivals.

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On the outside, the SUV has a stance of its own with over 5 meters in length along with the height and width over all its rivals since this is a five-door SUV. The wheelbase is quite long which makes it like a large intimidating SUV. The elements on the car make it stand out. The cladding, the very unique tail-lamp design on the tailgate, which has a big spare wheel mounted on it and a butch front-end makes it look restrained yet shouting character and bespoke appeal. The build quality on the outside seems and sounds great and it scores high on crash tests like any other JLR. The large wheels and the unique LED DRL in the headlamps make it stand out. The propionate grille always helps it stand out to gain a more subtle look while being a tad bit brute.

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On the inside, the build and quality are good and so is the expansive feature list we have explained time and again in our reports from the past. The minimalist dashboard has everything and the lower section is tilting towards the bottom which has everything on it. Right from cubby spaces to all the buttons, including the gear lever, which is a conventional unit in the Defender. ClearSight Rear Mirror and over-the-air updates are top highlights of the Defender interior and infotainment. The interior designed in a way if you remove seats and mats, it is pressure washable. Something that makes sure it can do anything while off-roading.

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You get every feature possible in the SUV. Right from automatic lights and wipers to reversing cameras, front and rear parking sensors, and projector lamps, the SUV has a large panoramic sunroof, wireless apple car play, Meridian Surround Sound System (700 W), which includes 14 speakers sounds good in the Defender. Meridian has not worked quite well with JLR cars in the past though.

360-degree camera, and ambient lighting to speak of the top few features. The LCD screen in the instrument cluster area is a great new addition and it also has the new Pivi Pro software for the infotainment system which is dramatically better than the previous system which was laggy and not so easy to use while driving.

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Space is good with sufficient shoulder and knee room you expect is here. Leg and headroom continue to be in good supply. Alpine light windows add more light in the cabin and retain the special feature. The boot space is good by segment standards. Road and wind noise inside the cabin is also well controlled. Like any other JLR, it is a pleasant place to be. Safety kit continues to be high with electronic stability control and eight airbags, Hill Hold Assist, ABS and EBD, and more come as standard.

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All JLR engines are smooth, free-revving, and low on NVH and the one on the Defender is no different. JLR had a very odd choice of giving out a test vehicle with a 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol motor. It makes 300 PS and 400 Nm of torque. Be it in any part of the rev range, low and mid-range are good all of which is going through a slightly slow but seamless shifting 8-speed automatic. Top-end is good enough as well and it cruises at legal speeds and higher than that, quite easily.

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All this makes it good enough for city and highway duties and makes driving comfortable enough thanks to the precision in every driving mode. 8-9 km/l in the city and 12 km/l on the highway is what we got in our Mumbai-Pune run, which is a great number in Eco mode, despite it sits so high above the ground! Adjustable suspension lowers height as you go faster though.

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The ride quality is exceptionally good at all speeds, and high-speed stability is spot on too. There is a bit of extra agility that you feel while you corner on the Defender. Because of high travel suspension. All this while feeling composed, makes the Defender something very unique to live with on a daily basis. Feels like an F-Pace and Range Rover rolled into one but with a mamoth size, which you do need to get hang of.

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Body roll is well in check at all speeds and changing lanes at high speeds is a very confidence-inspiring input. Steering is light, precise and has just about enough feedback on offer. Brakes are good with good pedal bite and more than enough stopping power. Overall, very easy to drive and quite fun to drive surprisingly only after you get used to the size

2021 Land Rover Defender Review, Verdict

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Defender in India packs many variants to choose from that exclude 170 accessories and four packs to make it very off-road friendly or keep it as it is with small changes to it. Priced at Rs. 80 lakhs ex-showroom For the petrol version, it is good value for your money. Capability, design, versatility and a lot more makes the Defender stand out. The rivals in India are the G-Wagon and Jeep Wrangler but they have their own niche just like the Defender carves its own. According to us, you clearly know what you want between the three and since you are reading this, just like us, you will and should opt for the iconic Defender.

2021 Land Rover Defender India Review
  • Design
  • Interior
  • Features
  • Space
  • Safety
  • Performance
  • Practicality
  • Dynamics
  • Value
4.8
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