It’s one of this years the most hyped vehicle; we got a chance to sample the all-new Defender for ourselves thanks to Jaguar Land Rover ME and what an experience it was.
The night before, Land Rover Middle East set us up with a beautiful room in the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Garhoud. As we checked in, five new Defender SUVs lined up outside the front door of the hotel giving us a taste of what’s to come.
After setting off in convoy with two people per car, we headed out on the open road and heading for the desert, after a 30-minute drive, we hit the entrance of the desert. It was time to let out some air, raise the vehicle and switch over to Sand mode. After letting out enough air to net 19 PSi per tyre, switching modes is as easy as a few clicks and button presses.
Once done, we set off in convey into the uncharted desert.
Filled with soft sand and camels, the landscape was stunning. Equally as remarkable is the new Defender’s off-road capabilities. If we’re honest, we’re not exactly the most experienced off-roaders, and the Defender made it easy.
When the new shape debuted, many complained that it’s more catered to the current city-driving generation, and that may be true with the exterior. But the Defender has always been built with one thing to do, conquer anything, and everything and its off-road credentials are still running through chassis.
After a brief stop for lunch, it was time to see what the new Defender can do on Gravel. Once again, it was time to switch the drive mode selector to the desired mode; Gravel.
In a matter of seconds, the onboard computer system quickly changes and sets the vehicle up for the desired mode.
Once again, the Defender performed beautifully and not just because of the drive. After traversing a few kilometres, we pulled over. Not to look at the mountains, but to watch a new Defender crawl across a small divet in the terrain.
Completely unfazed by the tricky terrain, the driver got out of the vehicle and left the Defender in place to show off how stable the SUV is.
Hopping back into the car, we were back on our way through the gravel, and while trickier situations raised, the Defender is the ideal companion off the beaten trail and not just because of the drive mode selector.
Mounted all around the vehicle are cameras that help scan the area and what they see is beamed to the centre console. Although it can be distracting on the road, it’s incredibly useful when driving through narrow trails.
After navigating back through the gravel, we set off for one final drive back to the hotel, which gave us a chance to open up and see how it performs on road for ourselves.
Figuring out the cruise control took some time, and the off-road pack does hinder the view from the right-side road mirror. But where it counts, the Defender is as smooth on-road as it is off-road.
It’s top-heavy and you can feel the wind rushing over the top (again the off-pack really doesn’t help) but it the new Defender remains planted to the road and delivers a smooth ride.
Would we buy one? We would. But the real question is, should you buy one?
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds with five seats, the new Defender is the SUV for you. If you’re on a budget, you might want to look elsewhere as the vehicle isn’t cheap. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.
Would you buy one? Let us know in the comments below.