But underneath, it’s a modern SUV that embraces the digital age with its touchscreen infotainment and ability to receive over-the-air updates. This, naturally, has purists complaining that it’s just not cricket, by Jove.
These are the dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts who want to wrestle levers to select low range instead of touching a screen.
They are the traditionalists who can rattle off Landy lore. Like the fact that the first Series I Land Rover was nicknamed “Huey” because its registration plate was “HUE 166”.
They are the inveterate old-schoolers who want to be able to repair their Landy with bloudraad and duct tape under a tree in the middle of the Kalahari.
And they are the people who sing campfire songs about them. I once attended a Landy gathering where the guitarist changed the lyrics of the “Wild Rover” pub song to “No nay, never no more, will I sell my Land Rover.”
I don’t know whether he ever did sell his Landy, or whether he’d consider trading it in for the hi-tech new one, which resembles a spaceship inside with its touchscreen-infused cabin.
Very un-Defender-like indeed, but Land Rover argues that, while it recognises the vehicle’s unique heritage, it has to move into the 21st century. “It’s about capturing the essence of the original but not being held captive by it,” says Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern.
The old-schoolers might bemoan the new version, which adopts a monocoque design instead of the original’s rugged body-on-frame architecture, and that those time-honoured solid axles have made way for independent suspension.
WAIT AND SEE
But the main hook of the Landy has always been its offroad ability, and here the new one doesn’t stray from the recipe. Its numbers will soothe even the strongest antediluvians. There’s a towering 291mm ground clearance, 500mm of wheel articulation and 900mm wading depth.
The 38-degree approach angle and 40-degree departure angle are also the stuff of offroading dreams, and one could use the Defender for a cross-Africa expedition. The question is: would you really want to?