There’s almost a euphoric sense of getting behind the wheel of a Land Rover Defender. There is so much history, so much prominence, and so much nostalgia tied to one vehicle that it’s hard not to feel the emotions. With its roots dating back to 1940s England, there has always been a constant with the Land Rover lineups over the years – and subsequently its first Defender-badged model in 1983 – its reliability and functionality. Reliability in the sense that this vehicle is going to get you from A to B no matter the circumstances, and functionality in that it can take a beating and just keep on going.
The new Land Rover Defender 110 D300 SE is no exception. It carries all the hallmarks of the classic Defender – its rugged styling and its practical, go-anywhere performance – whilst remaining a car that can be driven in cities, too. Naturally, a car of this stature has to be able to tackle the off-roads with ease (would it be a Defender if it couldn’t?) and we’re pleased to have witnessed this new model takes on off-road duties with confidence and composure.
ICON was given the keys to the new Land Rover Defender 110 D300 SE in Pangea Green, an all-wheel drive five-door wagon, to test out its capabilities in both the lifestyle and adventure aspects.
Here’s what we got up to…
Starting in Melbourne, the ICON team hit the road in style. What’s immediately noticeable about the new Defender is its well-appointed cabin. Pure comfort for both driver and passengers, the Defender boasts a ton of room for those long adventures that await. Sure, the space does touch on its utilitarian roots – it’s not a Porsche or Aston Martin, after all – so you won’t find anything that is over the top or even overly luxurious.
The leather-free material, which is extremely durable and easy to clean, is a nice addition, especially for those that really like pushing their adventures to the limit – the elements, like mud, rain, dust and snow, are often present on off-road adventures. One of my favourite design features in the cabin is also the applied steel throughout – from the dashboard to the steering wheel – which is a refreshing nod to Land Rover’s past.
Heading south-east of Melbourne, we made the drive towards Gippsland and the Great Alpine Region. While it’s summer here in Australia, it was still thrilling to take on the twist and turns of Victoria’s High Country. Fun fact, the first Land Rovers that arrived in Australia in 1949 were actually used within the surrounding regions of our travels, as men worked on the infrastructure project pertaining to the Snowy Mountains Hudro-Electric Power Act. The difficult conditions at play – the steep, rugged and wild terrain of the Australian Alps – demanded a rugged, functional, fail-proof vehicle with excellent off-road capabilities.
As we approached Gippsland with ease, we checked into one of Victoria’s newest off-grid accommodation experiences, Stellar the Stargazer. This luxury tiny “Aussie shed” is crafted with repurposed timber and steel salvaged from a historical farming shed; its aesthetic actually went hand-in-hand with the utilitarian Land Rover Defender parked outside.
Inside, you’ll get everything you need and nothing you don’t. There’s a bed, a kitchen with a cooktop and stove, and a bathroom. It’s built with sustainability in mind and above all, a distinct Victorian experience that fits its surroundings. On this occasion, it’s set upon a popular Gippsland vineyard, which you can enjoy in all its glory as you pour yourself a glass on your very own porch attached to your tiny home.
Heading along The Great Alpine Road, there were a couple of opportunities presented to take the car off-road and test out some rougher terrain. Of course, we weren’t even remotely surprised at just how smooth our drive remained. What did surprise us, however, was just how well-integrated the Defender is; it feels just as much at home in the wild as it does in the inner city suburbs of Melbourne.
But if you’re reading this and you’re finding it hard to picture just exactly what this vehicle can do whilst driving on one of Australia’s most scenic routes – The Great Alpine Road – then let your imagination take you to 2019’s James Bond instalment, No Time To Die. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll definitely remember what we think is the film’s greatest montage – the Land Rover Defender chase.
Whilst performed by professional stuntmen (and no, not Daniel Craig or the actors themselves) you get a sense that really, this car is made for the outdoors; made for adventure; and made for the off-road enthusiast.
The 2022 Land Rover Defender 110 D300 SE (220kW) is an all-wheel drive five-door wagon priced from $101,950 before options and on-road costs.