Despite the sizeable increase in the sticker price, the Land Rover Defender has turned out to be a pretty successful model for the British carmaker. The initial discontentment about it no longer being the workhorse has eventually made way for the new Defender to find a new market space for itself. While JLR never offered the original Defender in India, the success of the new model has certainly made up for any customers they’d have lost in the past. From businessmen to politicians, keen enthusiasts to even those who weren’t looking for an off-road-ready SUV, many have turned to the Defender for their motoring needs. With prices starting from ₹93.55 lakh onwards and comfortably breaching the 2 crore mark, there’s a wide variety of versions to choose from: three different models based on the size (90, 110, and 130), a multitude of engine choices, and various trim levels. To say there’s a Defender for everyone (as long as they have sizeable pockets) wouldn’t be wrong. We get a chance to experience the middle child of the lot, the Land Rover Defender 110.

It comes equipped with features like an 11.4-inch Privi Pro infotainment system, an HUD, 14-way-adjustable electric seats and Meridian sound system  

It comes equipped with features like an 11.4-inch Privi Pro infotainment system, an HUD, 14-way-adjustable electric seats and Meridian sound system  

And what an experience, because more than anything, it’s an eye-opener. Especially from behind the wheel, because once you look beyond the looks and comfort, which we’ll get to in a bit, the new Defender surprises in the way it drives. It’s precise and keen to driver inputs but also stable and comfortable. And let’s not forget that these adjectives, especially when used together, would’ve never described the old Defender. The 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine on this ₹1.32-crore vehicle makes almost 300 bhp. That does seem plenty for everyday driving, although it’s far from the most powerful choice. Off the road, the Defender shows what it’s made of — with the onboard air suspension managing just the right balance between the Defender being supple enough for the occupants but not so soft that it bottoms out on every off-road obstacle, in addition to maintaining the correct ride height. And it’s not just the mechanical abilities that make the new Defender special. The off-road-focussed tech like the ability to automatically modulate responses and power delivery through its AWD system by just selecting a drive mode has been nearly perfected by Land Rover, and it shows on the Defender 110.

Equally evident is how the design choices were made for the interior. Exposed rivets, a chunky grab handle, and many throwback bits like the safari windows make it clear that this Land Rover hasn’t forgotten its roots — a bit utilitarian if you will. But at the same time, it’s equipped with an

11.4-inch Privi Pro infotainment system, an HUD, a four-zone climate control, 14-way-adjustable electric seats, surround-view camera setup, a panoramic sunroof, and a top-notch Meridian sound system. It’s as if Land Rover embraced the Defender’s workhorse nature but within no time sprinkled a dollop of gold dust on it.

The exterior is also a unique mix of bits that suggest that it could (and in all likeliness, would) clear some of the harshest offroad patches, but also at the same time, look like a million bucks while doing so. The silhouette is unmistakably that of a Land Rover and the 20-inch alloy wheels complement the unique mix of utilitarian and luxurious look.

During our test, the 2023 Land Rover Defender returned a fairly respectable 7.9 kpl, a figure that rose to an even better 10.2 kpl on the highway. That for a sizeable SUV isn’t bad at all. Not many SUVs in the space have as big a legacy to carry as the Defender, and that works well in its favour. But Land Rover didn’t just make a product to ride the nostalgia wave, they made a particularly capable car that looks and feels as good as it drives. No wonder it’s become a popular choice.

© Motoring World