I reviewed the Land Rover Defender 110 P400 recently, and at R1.4 million it’s not as utilitarian and accessible as the original. However, it has bucketloads of tech that more than justify every aspect of the vehicle.
Where air-conditioning in the original Defender was a little crank handle affixed to the door – otherwise known as a window winder – and the only thing protecting your head from hitting the windscreen in an accident was the steering wheel, the new Defender is one of the most technologically-advanced cars on the roads today.
Here are 10 of the coolest features and options I discovered in my time with the car.
Clear Sight Rear-View Mirror
The Clear Sight rear-view mirror fitted to the SUV uses a rear-mounted, wide-angle camera fitted in the roof antenna to display a view of what’s behind the car on the rear-view mirror.
This is helpful as the large rear headrests and tailgate-mounted spare wheel block normal vision.
Simply press a button on the bottom of the rear-view mirror and its view of what lies behind is shown.
Clear Sight Ground View
Land Rover’s Clear Sight Ground View technology uses the many cameras mounted throughout the car to show the area usually hidden by the bonnet, on the central touchscreen display.
Perfect for rock and pavement crawling.
3D Surround and 360-degree Parking Aid
Another feature using the extensive array of cameras is the 3D surround and 360-degree parking assist system.
Other cars offer something similar, but nothing quite as accurate and detailed as the Land Rover system in the Defender.
A 3D rendering and the live environment around it is proportionately displayed when parking, and it’s accuracy is truly impressive
Automatic closing roof blind
Many cars come with panoramic roofs nowadays, and the Defender is no different.
Panoramic roofs make for an open, spacious feeling – but can leave the interior hot when parked in the sun.
Getting out and locking the Defender automatically closes the sunblind to keep the car cool and will reopen it when the door is unlocked again.
Nowhere in any marketing literature I read is this function listed, but it’s really cool and deserves a mention.
Software over-the-air updates
With 14 modules in the Defender capable of receiving remote updates, the car will update whenever there is an internet connection – negating the need to visit dealers for critical updates.
On the first day that I had the Defender, I had to lock it and leave it for 42 minutes while updating its systems.
At least it’s always running the latest software on its own.
The original Defender barely had a proper ventilation system, while the new Defender sports more connectivity than many cars on sale at the moment.
There are multiple USB-A and USB-C ports up front, along with a 12V power socket, and six more USB ports along with two 220V power sockets in the rear.
That is enough to keep any tech-loaded family topped up and a coffee percolator going in the boot.
Jump seat upfront
The Defender is available in 5, 6, or 7-passenger configurations.
The 5 and 7-passenger options are pretty straightforward: 5-passenger Defenders seat two up front and three in a second row, while 7-passenger Defender 110 models add to a third-row with room for two.
The 6-passenger Defender is where things get interesting because instead of a centre console, you get a front bench seat with room for three people to sit across — a very uncommon set-up in the passenger car world today.
The Wade programme in the Defender’s Terrain Response 2 system automatically synchronises the vehicle’s systems to provide maximum stability when fording water.
Throttle response is softened, heating and ventilation are automatically set to recirculate while its differentials are locked, and ride height is raised to its maximum.
The programme will also drag the brakes briefly after leaving the water to clean and dry the brake disks for optimal braking performance.
With an already generous 218mm of ground clearance, the air suspension provides an additional 75mm of lift in off-road mode for a total of 293mm.
It will also lower the body by 50mm to make getting in and out of the car easy.
Auto-levelling and adaptive damping flattens out speed bumps and imperfections on the road, and aids the feeling of its car-like handling.
The Defender is a big, heavy SUV.
The Defender P400 we reviewed had the 294kW turbocharged six-cylinder engine, but it also has a clever 7kW electric supercharger that uses stored energy from the 48V battery to increase pressure in the turbocharger and minimise turbo-lag.
Acceleration is instant, which is exciting.