The new Land Rover Defender 130 surfs the dunes
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The new Land Rover Defender 130 surfs the dunes

The new Land Rover Defender 130 surfs the dunes

The beast can go from zero to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds, and that’s just one of the things we love about it

Gulf Business

When Land Rover re-launched the Defender in 2020, it was expected to polarise loyalists into two segments: one that loved it for its performance and the other that didn’t because of its retro design.

However, the naysayers were proved wrong: the Land Rover Defender was deemed a ‘sales’ success, with buyers worldwide queuing up to purchase the dependable off-roader.

The Defender was initially launched in two sizes, the 90 (two-door version) and the 110 (four door version), but this year, the vehicle is making waves again — as an eight-seater in a new variant, the Defender 130.

The Looks of it

The 130 is all about space. To create more of it, Land Rover elongated the 110 by 33.782cm from the rear, placing a third row bench seat in this extended cargo area. While the third bench seat is uncomfortable or useless in most vehicles, it is very functional in the Defender 130. You can haul your entire crew along in one car. The second-row bench seat accommodates three people, with the rear bench offering space for three, but in reality, it fits two people comfortably.

Foot room is at a premium, but compensating that is enough shoulder room and headroom for the two passengers seated in the rear.

Land Rover also throws in a sunroof, USB-C ports and seat heaters, making the third row bench seat usable. However, there is a trade-off for this extra space. The 130 derivative seems out of balance, especially when you view it from the side.

The 90 and the 110 are already cult classics because of their iconic retro-modern look, and I think it is a matter of time before you will see the 130 being adopted as the primary vehicle of choice for large families or just transporting people around considering its tech features and off-road capability.

Road test

You can get the Defender in two engine choices from JLR’s Ingenium range of engines.

  • P300: A 296bhp, 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine
    P400: A 395bhp, 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo petrol mild-hybrid engine

We drove the off-roader with the P400 engine. From the moment I hit the pedal, the car put on an impressive performance: the engine pulls the car along effortlessly through city and highway driving. The entire drive was comfortable, composed and smooth. The standard air suspension ensures you never feel a thing from the road surface.

The steering is well-weighted and provides decent feedback to the driver, given the car’s dimensions. It has excellent on-road manners. The car does 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds and is
mated to an eight-speed ZF gearbox that does a brilliant job of keeping the vehicle in the right gear.

Considering I was driving a Defender, I also took it off-road to test its mettle. I deflated the tires, chose sand mode and took on the dunes. As it is an eight-seater and quite big, it impressed me with its off-roading capabilities. The vehicle took everything in its stride – from the dunes and ruts to gravel and minor rock crawling to check its articulation.

Interiors and technology

Interiors are where the Defender surprises everyone. It may look sparse and utilitarian, but its quality is unmistakable. It has been designed to ensure you can go anywhere, get the car dirty and then clean it to make it feel brand new.

The Defender 130 comes with great tech such as brake by wire and two transfer cases for off-roading, safety features, driving aids, sophisticated suspension and multiple driving modes for different terrains.

But the icing on the cake is Land Rover’s new Pivi-Pro infotainment system that makes all the features of the car easily useable and accessible.

It also lets you download over-the-air updates via 4G/5G connectivity, ensuring your vehicle is always up to date. This Defender is built to take on the present and future.

The verdict

The Land Rover Defender 130 is a worthy car capable of tackling most situations and challenges. The extra space, technology and modern power trains set the standards high.

With prices starting at Dhs317,000, you can spec the Defender with multiple trims and options. Even lease options are available from the official dealer in the UAE, which starts at Dhs6,999 per month, making the vehicle accessible to most large families.

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