The Land Rover Defender may have the look of a grumpy old man, but behind that visage is a ruggedly stylish SUV especially in the case of the Defender 90 with its stumpy proportions enhancing the chiselled design features.
This is the 23MY Defender 90 SE P400, which translates to a high spec interior and a powerful 3.0 litre, inline 6-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine that can really get up and go when you ask it to. The 294kW of power and 550Nm of torque from the Ingenium powerplant are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with the ability to compete the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 191km/h. The official combined fuel economy is 9.9L/100km and for my week slinking around in the Defender 90 I used 14.1L/100km.
I tried out the off-roading capabilities of the Defender in the 110 SE P400 I previously drove, but in this Defender 90 the most adventurous expedition was on a gravel driveway and overall I found the 90 comfortable to drive. That is not to say that it is not capable for off-roading and fitted with a whole lot of tech to make even a novice like me feel calm when putting the Defender through its paces. From the infotainment menu you control wade sensing, forward facing cameras on the front wheels for avoiding obstacles, slope assist info. But possibly the most important part of a 4WD these days this Defender has a full-size spare tyre! There are seven drive modes on the Defender 90 (Eco, Comfort, Gravel/Grass/Snow, Mud Ruts, Sand, Rock Crawl, Wade) and low range 4WD for the pursuit of maximum fun in this SUV.
This Defender 90 had the optional Air Suspension Pack ($1,310) fitted with Adaptive Dynamics and Electronic Air Suspension. Meaning I could raise and lower the height of the Defender either from a button in the boot to make it easier to load or using the buttons on the dash and locking the desired height for off-road driving. The Adaptive Dynamics allows you to configure the differentials (auto, centre lock or centre and rear lock), Powertrain, Steering and Traction Control for more or less wheel spin. You can also have up to four different configurations saved and individually named so you can simply press one button under the menu and the Defender 90 will be ready to hunt down your next adventure.
Plus, to assist with the up to 3,500kg of towing, the Defender 90 I drove had the optional Towing Pack ($4,040) with Configurable Terrain Response, All Terrain Progress Control, Terrain Response 2, Advanced Tow Assist and Tow hitch receiver. The 3D surround view reversing cameras come as standard and would help greatly when hitching up and reversing with a trailer or caravan.
The tension between the robust but polished traits of the Defender 90 continues on the interior with the practicality of wipe-clean surfaces combined with grained leather seats and even a heated steering wheel (part of the optional Cold Climate Convenience pack $1,480). Both front seats have power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat heigh front and rear, 4-way lumbar support, three memory positions and are heated and cooled. You can even select under the infotainment menu to have either your back, bottom or both being kept at a pleasant temperature while the Defender 90 deals with the surrounding environment for you.
Cabin storage is abundant in the Defender with a deep storage cubby under the arm rest, a large flat space in the centre console for your phone with wireless charging for compatible devices, two large cup holders with grippy sides to stop your cup from spilling while tackling the rough stuff and lay down storage for a larger drink bottle in the front door cubbies. On the dash is a storage ledge with lined grippy plastic with a USB-C port and under the front of the centre console there is a storage ledge with grippy plastic and another USB-C port, USB port and 12V outlet.
The 11.4” touchscreen infotainment system can also be connected to via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly and voice control is available by pressing the button with the feminine looking silhouette on it. The voice control worked well for me when I used it to change the radio station or to make a phone call, but when I tried to enter a destination on the sat nav it told me that the navigation was not ready.
To access the rear seats, you press a button on the shoulder of the front seat and manually slide it forward. The gap was large enough for me to step in and out easily and there is a handle on the B-pillar if you need help to pull yourself up. I found that there was ample enough head and leg room for two adults to sit in the back seats, my only complaint and that of my children also was that our knees were sitting up too high. The centre seat can be folded down as an arm rest with two cup holders in it with grippy sides and on either side of the Defender 90 there are large drink bottle holders with grippy sides as well.
The rear seats have two ISOFIX/rear tether child seat restraint points and if you have children or adults for that matter who can feel claustrophobic in cars then it is worth noting that the rear windows do not open, but the roof windows do make it feel somewhat nicer. You do get two central rear air vents though with individual direction and air speed control and below these two USB-C ports. There is a carpet mat over the entire hard plastic rear floor, making cleaning easier.
With the rear seats in place there is only a small amount of space in the boot that would fit a couple of school bags or a small shop. For extra space the rear seats have a 40:20:40 split fold mechanism and for easy cleaning of the boot area both the boot floor and the back of the rear seats are covered with plastic chequer plate. The boot is accessed via a large side opening tailgate and has two substantial metal tie down points, two hooks, a light, 12V outlet and a soft cargo cover.
Adaptive cruise control and rear collision monitor are standard on the Defender 90, as is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane keep assist, blind spot assist, and emergency lane keeping (ELK). The Defender I drove also had the optional ClearSight interior rear-view mirror ($1,270), which projects the rear-view camera into the rear-view mirror so the driver has a better view of what is going on behind them. Passive safety includes dual frontal, side chest-protecting for the first row and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags for both the first, second and optional third row are standard across all variants. The Land Rover Defender 110 has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating (2020), but this currently does not apply to the Defender 90.
All new Land Rovers sold come with a 5 years/unlimited kilometre warranty and five years roadside assistance. While the 5 year/102,000km service plan for the Defender 90 SE P400 costs $2,250.
The starting price for this Silicon Silver 23MY Land Rover Defender 90 SE P400 is $105,690 excluding on-road costs and as tested my Silver Fox was $121,720 plus on-road costs. You can Find and Reserve a Defender 90 online or visit your preferred Land Rover retailer for more information.
|The on-board 4WD technology||Knees feel like they are sitting up high sitting in rear seats|
|3,500kg towing capacity||Voice control did not work for setting a destination on the sat nav|
|Easy clean interior||Limited boot space|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.