• The Bitou local municipality needs two new executive sedans.
• Specifications for the two vehicles are slightly suspicious.
• The vehicles are to be leased over 36 months, instead of being purchased.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
If you have been waiting since 2016 to buy a new Defender, your opportunity has now arrived. But which one, should you buy?
Whereas the original Defender was a wonderfully simple vehicle, with a narrow range that was easily managed by product planners and understood by customers, Land Rover has gone big with the new version.
Defender 2.0 has launched with a range that is no less than 30 derivatives strong. That is a massively broader portfolio of choice than Land Rover Defender customers have ever had before.
But which one is the best buy? We navigated the online configurator to build the best value Defender – and this is how it turned out.
Has to be a shorty
The first choice you’ll have to make, regards configuration. Although the convenience of a five-door vehicle is inarguable, the Land Rover 90 has always endured. We are drawn more to the unique appearance of the three-door 90, than the five-door 110.
There are many rival five-door SUVs, but very few with only three-doors. Suzuki’s Jimny and Jeep’s Wrangler come to mind, but they are either too small or unsophisticated to compete with Defender.
If you seek to express individuality with ownership of a new Defender and aren’t burdened by an extended family, a 90 is what you want.
We chose a base-spec vehicle and carefully selected the optional extras which genuinely add value. Although the new Defender offers a vast selection of accessories and technologies, which were never in the realm of possibility with its predecessor, you don’t need everything that is available.
The crucial on- and off-road dynamic driving features are mostly standard: hill descent control, low traction launch control, hill launch assist, a low-range transfer case and terrain response. All you really need to add, is the electronic active rear differential, which we did, at R13 000.
Adventurous off-road explorers are weary of too many electronic control systems, especially when they are related to air-suspension.
The Defender 90 base specification has capable coil springs at all four wheel corners, which should offer you good ride quality on gravel roads, and 226mm of ground clearance. Best of all, the coil suspension is absolutely mechanical and robust.
Explorer option is worth it
Where we spent the most money on our ideal Defender 90 specification, was the R55 820 Explorer Pack. Appearance is a meaningful part of the Defender’s appeal, but the Explorer Pack also ads some necessary off-road touring functionality.
You get front and rear mud flaps, which not only look cool but serve a valuable purpose on drenched roads. There’s a raised air intake too, which allows the Defender 90 to port cooler and less dusty air into its engine bay when you are driving in convoy.
The Explorer Pack also gets you wheel arch protection, to save that iconic Pangea green paint finish and a roof rack – which is a must for any Defender. Privacy glass is a crucial passive security feature in South Africa, especially with a three-door configuration vehicle, which has a large aft glasshouse area. We added the darkened rear windows for R4300.
Our only true concession to style was the R8800 contrasting white roof option – which goes excellently with those standard 18-inch steel wheels.
An alloy wheel upgrade might tempt you, but steel wheels are so much more durable on South African roads, especially when travelling through rural areas – and on a Defender, they look wonderfully apt.
We left the interior quite stock but considering that the steering wheel and shifter are two high-frequency touchpoints, the R900 and R700 leather trim options were ticked for each.
Land Rover is offering customers a terrific diversity of choice with the new Defender. You can configure it as a luxury SUV with every possible comfort, convenience and digital technology feature. But we were also able to build a great Safari-spec 90 online, with coil springs and without keyless entry – two things that are important to those intending to use their Defender as adventure touring vehicles.
From the base price of R996 600, our kitted Defender 90 comes to R1 100 624. And best of all – you can have it tailgate badge removed at no extra cost, for that stealth look.