It was only noon, but it was dark as dawn. The sky was a temporary relief from the pouring rain, and I placed the defender fifty yards from a puddle the size of a pond. It was an obstacle that any other day in any other car I would have done anything to avoid this.
But not today and not in a defense attorney.
My family and I went to Hunting Island State Park, a wooded wonderland on a promontory north of Hilton Head. We crossed a strip of mud and sand that used to resemble a parking lot but was devastated by a recent succession of named hurricanes. To our left were exhausted dunes and oceans; to our right wind-mutilated palm trees and battered ocean forest.
I put a heavy foot on the gas and the defender roared through the oyster shell gravel and mud toward that great pothole lake. The bonnet plunged – it was deeper than expected – water shot up, covering every window; We were passengers in a car wash as we plowed through the water like the bow of a ship …
I felt the defender regain his grip and raise the front end – we were through. I stepped heavily on the brake pedal and we came to a stop. There was silence in the cockpit. Was i in trouble? I’ve been waiting for the verdict.
And then a little voice from the back seat yelled, “Do it again, Dad!”
I smiled at my wife, she nodded, and I swung the defender around for another run.
To fully appreciate the new Land Rover Defender 110, you need to look at it on its own terms. In other words, don’t expect Harry to be exactly like Charles.
I’m as much of a nostalgic sucker as anyone. And my first impression from a distance of the new Land Rover Defender was that it didn’t evoke the same emotions as the original. I think I didn’t want anything to change other than a few safety features and electronics. But after spending time on it, I respect the choice of reinvention over pure homage.
In Tasman Blue, it is reminiscent of my favorite Range Rover Classic, Derwent Blue. And it’s stunning with the contrasting white roof. It’s a vehicle that attracts attention. People have stopped me from asking questions and expressing opinions that ranged from “How much does it cost because I want one” to “It’s just not the same as the old one”.
The silhouette is at the door. flat on the sides, then sloping around the wheels like a neckline on the shoulders. The round headlights, the black tread plates on the bonnet and the heavy, side-hinged back door were among my favorite design details.
My neighbor imports Vintage Defenders and has regularly parked a Camel Trophy 110 outside. When you see these two generations of defenders parked right next to each other, it can be difficult to identify the father in the son. But to me, what you give up on boxy lines of use, you make up for in ease and comfort.
Everything about the Defender deliberately feels robust. There are a million ways to say, “I’m the rough guy out there.” The inner door panel is provided with hexagonal screws and almost every surface is rubberized. It is enough to wonder where the line is between stone jeans and real vintage jeans. between invention and authenticity. I don’t think Land Rover crossed it here, but they got close.
If the overall effect is pleasant, I don’t mind being visually put in a certain mood. I liked the sturdy fabric and leather seats, the rubber mats on the dashboard, the rubber-lined shelves, and the storage corners everywhere. And the fact that it looks like you can just cum on it when it gets muddy. I appreciated the high ceiling, roomy interior, and large rear cargo area with its nubby military grade rubber and plastic.
The flat-screen instrument cluster looks analogously like a vintage-inspired face on an Apple Watch. The touch screen and all media functions were intuitive and very easy to use without diving into a manual. The oversized steering wheel gives you the feeling of driving a serious truck, even if it’s leather wrapped and heated. The long, narrow skylights along the roofline are a nice tip for the classic Defenders. But the real star of the interior for me is the refrigerator under the front elbow rest. I found it by chance when I poked a button while stowing a camera and ended up with a frosty lens. I stopped and bought a bottle of sparkling wine to stay there until we stopped for the night. Because I could.
EXPERIENCE AT THE WHEEL
Every car with a sense of identity makes an unspoken challenge to the driver. Something that you feel as soon as you get behind the wheel. Some ask for a route, others ask for a winding road, an endless plain, or in the case of the defender, they will ask you to take them off the road. So we loaded up the kids and made our way to the heart of the coastal South Carolina where we knew mud could be found.
Driving on the freeway in the Defender is perfectly fine, but emotionally it’s a bit like walking on a treadmill in combat boots. Land Rover’s air suspension is always comfortable, even if the Defender’s seats are a bit firmer, and the 395-hp six-cylinder has a “mild hybrid” technology that generates energy when braking, stores it in a battery and uses it later than additional torque for faster acceleration. How this feels in practice is more liveliness than you’d expect from six-cylinder in such a large vehicle.
But take the Defender 110 off the road and it all comes together. It’s as dizzy on dirt as a Ferrari on an empty runway, and I went every gravel road I could find; The rougher the better. The weight of the steering wheel, the travel, the size of the tires, the feel of the gearbox – it makes you believe you can take it anywhere. I felt like a little kid again and drove the Tonka truck of my childhood dreams.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
For some, the Defender may not scratch the same itch as the original. But for me I was reminded of some simple joys that I forgot along the way. Playing in the mud, splashing around in puddles, exploring the forest; The things that once excited you are still waiting for you when you know how to find them.
And I found them in the defense attorney.