The wait is over, the new Defender is here. With the first shipment of the 110 models a sell-out, we look at pre-order success and just how we think Kiwis will find this new 21st century upgrade.

Mention the Defender amongst friends and you’re likely to get a murmur of appreciation, perhaps even an anecdote from someone who inherited an old series model themselves. A prized possession until it was passed down to the next generation. It’s imperfections from a lifetime of adventures only adding to the charm.

Much of this Defender fandom in New Zealand can be attributed to its instantly recognisable features that have become a symbol for off-road adventure and exploration, making it an aspirational purchase for many Kiwis. Its robust exterior making the driver feel they are ready to jump into action at any moment, regardless of if they are just on their way to work.

Until now, the distinctive boxy shape and aluminium steel exterior has seen little change, firmly remaining static amongst an automotive industry constantly pushing for re-invention. The challenge the Land Rover design team have had – completely modernise the Defender without losing the essence of what makes this car an icon.

The result, a Defender like no other. Premium comfort has been combined with endless all-terrain performance capabilities. You can still scale the mountain except now you can do it at ease with internet connection, an array of interior comfort settings controllable from a phone app and 8-speed automatic transmission. Oh, and a deployable roof ladder.

With many nods to the previous model, design features such as Alpine lights, the side opening rear door and the chamfered roofline remain. However, it’s built on a brand-new architecture and has been engineered to be the most capable SUV yet. Multiple powertrain options are available and have been optimised to cater for all needs.

The design team have tip-toed to line between past and present to create a whole new icon. The question now is, what will our Kiwi audience think?

Judging by the success of pre-sales we have feeling the new Defender will become something very special indeed. With the first shipment of Defenders now here, the 110 models have already sold out.

The second shipment, due for arrival later this month is also on track to sell out before arriving into the country with sales increasing by 14% week on week.

With customers pre-ordering vehicles as far back as August 2019, almost a year before its official New Zealand launch date, it’s clear there is a high demand in New Zealand for this vehicle.

“The new Defender is a standout in the SUV and Luxury SUV sector”, says Steve Kenchington, general manager, Land Rover New Zealand. “It is no surprise it has been received so well. Our retailers have had an influx of pre-orders and test drive requests since we teased the new model over one year ago.”

Local journalist, David Linklater from Driven, one of the first Kiwis to test out the new car, agreed it is a massive leap forward for Defender.
“The thing that struck me most,” says David, “was how the high technology makes off-road driving so easy. With the new Terrain Response system, virtually anybody can do extreme off-roading.”

Comparing it to its New Zealand rivals and you see the new Defender has a leg up here too, boding well for Kiwi opinion. With its 3500kg towing capability, it outperforms the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado’s 3000kg limit, as well as the Jeep Wranglers 2,495kg. Similarly, the Mercedes Benz G-Class’s own recognisable look offers no competition when it comes down to off-road capability of the Defender, with the new model’s impressive ground clearance and wading depth.

Perhaps the biggest point of difference when comparing the new Defender to its rivals though, is the level of personalisation available. Offering the ultimate expression of individuality, customers customise their own car via the choice of First Edition, Defender, S, SE and X, choosing between 90 and 110 variants and the four accessory pack options: Explorer, Adventurer, Urban and Country. Seating options in the new upgrade include 5, 6 or 5+2 seat options.

Paul Ricketts, product manager for Land Rover New Zealand, is confident this level of customisation will mean the new Defender will be well-received by the public.

“With nearly 100 pre-orders nationwide already, it’s clear we have a growing audience really excited to experience just how well this new version performs. It’s still as tough on the outside and the inside as you would expect and has been designed and engineered to be the SUV you need for every adventure.

“Whether you’re from Queenstown, Coromandel or central Auckland, there’s a Defender to suit your lifestyle.”
Due to arrive into the country in end of July, New Zealander’s will soon be able to try the car out themselves. Packed with endless technology upgrades, custom features and endless accessories, the local Land Rover team are excited to get as many Land Rover fans testing out this car as possible.

So, while the new Defender won’t be everything the old one was, the charm is definitely still there. Those seeking out the new upgrade will find a car as enviable, capable and durable as its previous versions, however this new one is better than ever. Four years after the production of the last model, this new Defender is something very special indeed.

Sign up to test drive the new Defender now.