BEST TESTS ’22: Landy 110 racing adventure shows its real roots

There’s no doubt about it, but this long wheelbase 110 is the most capable and connected Land Rover yet. They promise that new Defender traces its roots all the way back to the great original. To be honest, we always loved that old Landy and we were saddened by its passing. So what better way to see if this new one is up to it, than a good old tow test to a far-flung track for a wild weekend of motor racing?

Jam Packed Living Adventure Coming Up

In our experience, there’s no better way then that to jam pack a living with a car experience into a few short days than to do that and we were delighted to pack this fine 110 full and hitch our trusty and trailer toting our well packed Bullion IT Polo Cup, to it. We set off early the Wednesday morning for our overnight stay over in Plett and on to PE, in typical easy does it Landy style, stopping a couple of times en route, too.

Our splendid keyless access Defender 110’s cabin is a pleasure to travel in. Packing intuitive always-on CarPlay and Auto-rich Privi Pro 10” infotainment, mirroring is not overly intrusive. The system has an interactive driver display that also allows you to monitor live consumption on the dash. The triple-split centre screen shares navi, audio and other info and there’s even a handy trailer view that you can activate when required. Helps with reversing and tight fits for the broad trailer.

There’s also a 360-degree 3D surround camera parking and even a driver condition monitor. It becomes most concerned when you don’t stop and rest. Just tap OK on the wheel and it goes away. For a bit. Best of all, besides those hard to figure buttons on the multifunction steering wheel, they’ve finally got all that technology to work together in quite an unobtrusive way.

Many 110 Tricks and Treats

The Land Rover Defender 110 has many other tricks and treats that work very well en main. There are a few unique aspects too. Like the ClearSight video rear view mirror. It’s there because the view aft is tragic. So it serves very good purpose. But you must adjust your field of view to focus on it, which you don’t do in the regular mirror. You can flick back to the regular mirror anyway.

Other odd bits are mostly quaint and cute in an old school Landy kind of a way. Like that cavern in the centre console that we found perfectly cossets a brown Kentucky take away packet! But all cool. That daft Silver box on the right side of this station wagon worked better than it does on the shortie. It doesn’t block off the rear passenger windows, but still creates a rear view blind spot. It did make a neat weekend home for our race car cover, fuel skommel pipe and other trinkets.

One thing Defender 110 is, is spacious. Seven up with a couple in the third row seats in the boot was fine for short distances from the track to our digs and back. And nobody complained in the second row, even with long-legged creatures on that bench shoved fully forward. Four-up on the open road, who cared if the cavernous boot was fully laden atop the stowed third row? It’s rugged back there too, so no real worries about scuffing and hurting puffy carpets and the like.

Defender 110 Towed Like a Dream

What impressed us most about this Land Rover 110 was however how it towed on the open road. With sophisticated suspension and full time 4×4 with low range, this flagship adds air suspension, and an electronic active rear differential to the standard emergency braking and lane keep assist. While that certainly sets the new Defender furthest apart, it’s probably also our biggest conundrum about it.

Terrain Response enables you to match your precise adventure driving conditions. That adaptive suspension, brakes and traction control were impeccable for all our towing needs, and in normal driving around town. Defender 110 is quiet, smooth and sophisticated. Press on, and handling and road holding is just as impressive. It blends hot saloon speed with a comfortable ride and when we needed it, it pulled as if that race car trailer was not even there.

Defender of course senses a tailer and accommodates for it in every respect from finding the ideal ride height through its sophisticated suspension, to adapting same to ensue totally fuss-free towing. Of course, this 221 kW 650 Nm D300 V6 is fast and frugal. Lose the trailer and it easily beats its 6.7 second 0-100 km/h promise. More than adequate, we did however find the brakes a tad grabby and not as intuitive as we’d liked them to be on the road.

110 Boasts an Ever Present Off Road Pedigree

We never took 110 too far off road this time around, but trust us, it’s impeccable as we know from out previous adventurous 4×4 trips. They proved effortless. It should be, with everything from a perfect dirt pedigree to a neat wade sensing function for waters up to 900 mm deep. What we can report, is that we used under 14 litres per hundred on tow. And that it beat JLR’s fuel claims without the trailer.

Our silver and black Defender also caused quite a stir whenever it was parked with a good few folk coming over to kick those Tonka truck tyres and chat about it and the race car on tow. Oddly enough, most observers shared our conundrum. Is this the new Land Rover Discovery, they asked? No, its actually the new Defender. Cue the frown. And that’s our only beef with it. One would hardly want to take this big, shiny, elaborate and quite expensive car overland to Zanzibar.

Of course, it will do that, better than ever. Trouble is, who ever cared a hoot about getting an old Defender, or any old Landy scratched, all dusty inside or totally muddied and messed up? And that’s what’s missing here. Sure, it’s the perfect Disco replacement. But I’d not want to be rude to it, as I would with an original Defender. So, it’s odd that there’s no longer a good old basic and rudimentary Landy in the range. Even if some of this one’s more basic siblings may pretend so.

New Defender’s Real Rivals May Surprise You

In its own right however, this new Land Rover 110 looks great inside and out and it even resembles the classic Defender. Yet while it’s nothing like the old one, Land Rover has integrated new technology in a way that it leaves you with a remarkably similar feeling to the great original. Even if the new Land Rover Discovery far more a Cruiser 300 or GLS contemporary in the real world. And my word, it really is an excellent rival to both of those… Michele Lupini

Testing & Images: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Land Rover Defender 110 D300 X
Engine: 221 kW 650 Nm 3-litre turbodiesel V6
Drive: 8-speed automatic 4x4
Load Capacity: Up to 1,826 litres
Towing Capacity: 3,500 kg braked
0-60 km/h:          3.28 sec
0-100 km/h:         6.89 sec
0-160 km/h:         17.33 sec
400m:               16.9 sec @ 128 km/h
80-120 km/h:        4.73 sec
120-160 km/h:       7.98 sec
Fuel Towing:        13.9 l/100 km
VMax:               191 km/h
Fuel:               7.6 l/100 km
CO2:                209 g/km
Warranty/Service:   5y 100K/5y 100K km
LIST PRICE:         R1.70M
Price with Options: R1.83M
RATED:              9
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