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DEFENDER OF FUN AT THREDBO

As the official automotive sponsor of Thredbo Alpine Resort, it’s not surprising that you can spot a Land Rover or two powering around the bends of Mount Kosciusko National Park. For the past year Land Rover have been running a drive experience program with the New Defender, to give visitors of Thredbo a taste of what these vehicles are capable of. Tony Davis of the Australian Financial Review joined Land Rover Experience over the Easter break to see what all the fuss was about and learn more about the capabilities of the toughest, most purposeful machine in the Land Rover stable.

Driving the Defender 110 P400 along the spectacular Alpine Way, after heading off from Sydney, Davis said the vehicle “immediately identified itself as a superbly refined and comfortable tourer.” Once off-road, Davis discovered a car that was “sure-footed and rode flat through the twists and turns, punching out of corners with gusto despite its considerable heft”.

LITTLE DRAMA TACKLING ALL TERRAINS

Advised by the Land Rover instructor to aim for the potholes and the worst bits of the road, Davis told his passengers to expect a noisy and bumpy ride. “It seems,” he said, “I lied. Despite meticulously following the instructions, pushing the Defender fast and hard into sizeable potholes and sending plumes of water and mud over the car and across the windscreen, there was remarkably little drama.”

Manoeuvering the Defender up a steep, muddy hill covered in deep holes, Davis found the low-speed off-road cruise control maintained a smooth speed while the electronics constantly optimised the wheel speed at each corner. The car’s cameras showed what lay ahead, while the screen graphics displayed the angles, altitude, and diff lockings and unlockings, among many other useful pieces of information.

A VERY WORTHY SUCCESSOR

If there was any disappointment for Davis, it was that the route barely touched the edges of the vehicle’s capabilities. John Eggenhuizen, who manages Land Rover Experience in Australia, explained Thredbo is tailored for people keen to learn about the vehicle and is a “pretty mild program”. For those after something more extreme, there are other Experience offerings in the pipeline which will provide “more than enough to get the adrenaline running”. Eggenhuizen has taken all Land Rover models to their limits and when it comes to off-road he says the Defender is “much better and stronger...it’s a quantum leap ahead of the old Defender, a very worthy successor”.

Stay tuned for the next Land Rover Experience at Thredbo in September.