There has been much wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of tweed garments by those people who have failed to update their calendars in the last 30 years, decrying the fact that Land Rover has had the temerity to replace the Defender. The main thrust of the argument seems to be that by being a safe, modern, comfortable and quiet car, capable both off the road and on it, this is somehow not a new Defender.
And actually, they are right. The new car is far too good to be a new Defender. But it definitely shares its DNA with another great Land Rover name. It is certainly not the utilitarian, noisy, knobbly beast that first wore the Defender nametag. Instead, it is available with both two and four doors, the floors are flat with the sills and can be hosed out, it has an engine that can actually allow it to get out of its own way and an ability to switch effortlessly from bitumen to bog while providing comfort and a modicum of luxury. Sound familiar?
We were lucky enough to have the use of a brace of Defenders in the build-up to Goodwood SpeedWeek presented by Mastercard. Used as crew and camera vehicles they were put to the test on motorway schleps, West Sussex’s broken lanes and the acreage of the Goodwood Estate over long hours. We didn’t carry any sheep or assorted agricultural ephemera but we were grateful to climb into their comfortable, heated seats after some very long days.