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DEFENDER 90 EFFORTLESSLY TACKLES THE TOUGHEST TRAILS

The first reviews for Defender 90 are in and the feedback have been overwhelmingly positive. Mike Duff, the UK Bureau Chief for CarAdvice, got behind the wheel of the Defender 90 at Land Rover’s extensive off-road testing ground in Eastnor, Hertfordshire, to see how it fared on the toughest of trails.

At most press events, Duff says, drivers are given “fully-specced range-toppers”, so he was intrigued to experience an “entry level P300 2.0-litre petrol engine, base coil springs in place of pricey air suspension, and even the novelty of what was close to a hose-out rubber interior”.

He found the Defender 90 was unsurprisingly mighty in its development playground, saying “it squelched and slithered its way along some of Eastnor’s tougher tracks while barely breaking sweat. The revelation wasn’t that it could do it all, rather how easy progress was”.

A PROPER OFF-ROADER

Noting that “mud-plugging” in rural England is a very different experience from driving in the rougher parts of Australia, Duff points out that “Land Rover is keen to emphasise that the Defender has been designed for adventure in almost every environment...It’s certainly a useful reminder that even, beneath the sleek design and life-stylish options packs, the new Defender remains a proper off-roader”.

The P300 powerplant also impressed Duff, with 220kW and 400Nm delivering more than adequate performance.

IMPRESSIVELY BRISK PERFORMANCE

Duff then switched to a 90 P400, with a full-strength Ingenium straight-six 294kW engine. It features both a mild hybrid starter-generator and a 48-volt electric compressor that works in conjunction with the turbocharger to improve low-end responses.

Despite only driving it on-road, he found “performance was impressively brisk...even riding on air springs, the test P400’s chassis felt firm at urban speeds, but it gains some calm authority at a highway pace and the cabin felt impressively well insulated”.

SPACIOUS AND ROOMY INSIDE

Even though the 90 is a full 435mm shorter than the 110, Duff found the cabin “respectably spacious inside. The front of the cabin is roomy with plenty of headroom, even with a natural driving position that enables you to look down on the pilot of pretty much any other SUV. The rear seats are positioned higher than those in front, giving occupants an excellent view forwards, and there’s plenty of space for adults back there”.

The Defender’s upgraded infotainment system -Pivi Pro impressed Duff with a new interface that’s “better looking, faster acting and much more intuitive to use” than the previous generation system.

Duff concludes; the 90 makes a strong case for itself for anyone who doesn’t need the space of the 110; but wants to experience the Defender in its purest form.