Show Notes for Podcast Episode #15
Overland Test of the New 2020 Defender

Summary:
Scott and Matt were some of the first journalists in the world to test the new 2020 Defender overlanding, which included mixed terrain throughout Northern Namibia, including sand, mud, rocks, and other challenging 4wd and offroad routes. We give our ratings of the vehicle for technical terrain performance, dirt road handling, road handling, capacity, and durability / reliability. 




Detailed review notes: 
https://expeditionportal.com/2020-defender-overland-test-drive/




Host Bios: 


Scott Brady
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @globaloverland

Matthew Scott
Matthew is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most remote places by 4WD and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. He is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore

 

Full Transcript

Scott Brady: Hello, and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast, I am your host Scott Brady and I am here with my co-host Matt Scott. And today we're going to talk about the defender. This is pretty exciting, Matt and I are actually recording this podcast from Johannesburg, South Africa, I've spent about a week cruising around the country. Matt spent over a week.

 

Matt Scott:  Yeah, I was in Namibia for 2 weeks including the trip we did with Land Rover. We went from Northwestern Namibia to I guess prove the defender and see if it's worth it's metal.

 

Scott Brady: And you picked up a 79 series or something like that?

 

Matt Scott:  Yeah so it's the exact opposite of the defender, it's  and j79 with the diesel in it. It was very slow oh, but a very dependable vehicle. It's hard to argue with that choice for Africa. We're here to talk about the new Defender which takes a completely different approach to that tried-and-tested Land Cruiser that I was in. It's completely independent air suspension, it has an electrically supercharged turbocharged  engine available, as well as a diesel and I want to say turbo charged V6. That’s the P300-P400. Street 6 sorry.  Street 6 is I guess making a comeback.

 

Scott Brady: this is good, I can see that. More and more vehicles are doing that straight fives, straight sixes I like that.

 

Matt Scott: So, I think to start, one of the things to get out of the way, it was a Legitimate four-wheel drive trip. I want to say we had about 12 or 10 days in  Namibia oh, I don't think we could have done some of the trails we did in the 79 even though it was locked, heavy kind of power oh, it made me really appreciate that Defender and I guess we're going to get into those details of it.

 

Scott Brady:  The defender did really well and that's for sure. That's what I would say is, Land Rover did a great job of picking a route that Matt and I would have done ourselves on an Overland trip. In fact, when I was in Namibia the last time with Expedition 7, this route we just did with the defender was my second choice for the country, which included Wenzel pass, and horses and the skeleton Coast. for Expedition seven we ended up having a rare opportunity to go through the dunes up to the skeleton Coast, so we did that but this trip is very legitimate. Overlanders from around the world come from Namibia to do this route, it's considered a very challenging route, very remote oh, there's almost no support. We had to bring fuel with us, extra tires with us. And we were all on our own oh, this was not a fully scripted media drive oh, this was a true back land Overland Adventure. They use the term Expedition for something like this, which I think is okay because they do offer a lot of support for local charities and local communities, so it was over Landing with a purpose, so I think you can apply the term expedition to it.

 

Matt Scott: If not, the purpose for this vehicle. This was the first opportunity for people outside of Land Rover to drive and prove this vehicle.

 

Scott Brady:  Yeah, I mean how many Americans did you have in your group?

 

Matt Scott:  Including your group and there were eight Americans total.

 

Scott Brady:  Yeah, so there've only been eight people in the US that have experience with this vehicle, and  Matt and I are pretty lucky, two of the eight are on this podcast today. Matt and I did it in two different waves  which was good because we were also able The Forum had a lot of opinions separately. Normally Matt and I do these Drives together where we can expand upon impressions, but I think it was me talking with Matt about these things over the last couple of days of what he saw stand out, and what I saw stand out. When we typically evaluate a vehicle we look at a couple criteria, and this is what we're going to go through in the podcast today. we look at technical terrain performance, we look at dirt road performance, so what's the difference between those two?

 

Matt Scott: Technical Terrain think low range.

 

Scott Brady: where you're maximizing the need for ground clearance, and maximizing the need for tractor performance. Dirt road performance is what most of us do when we are traveling from point to point in a Backcountry Adventure. Oh, this could be a gravel road, this could be a higher speed Jeep 2 track, this could be a Sandy track. We did the Marion flus Valley which is a big wide open salt pan which was very fun to drive, high speed, very interesting terrain to travel, and because we were traveling and tracts of Land Cruisers, which are narrower than the defender which gave us some good insights into traceability and predictability into the vehicle handling. But durable performance, think about everything from traveling at 25, 30 miles an hour all the way up to full-blown rally car speeds which we were pushing on to the route from sus Fontaine back back to pooh.

 

Matt Scott: One of the downsides of the trips was that Scott was able to drive the vehicle on Road. The way these trips work is that you're partnered with another journalist and you take turns, unfortunately I wasn't able to drive the pavement so I won't comment but the pavement Drive was 4, 5 km long, which is actually quite impressive Because the actual trip was 650 to 750 km depending on the route. It wasn't a trip where we were just driving down regular roads and taking some photos. I've seen some flak for the defender that this was a very staged trip, and I would not say that it was at all. We got these vehicles stuck, we watched, we max tracked,We actually put them to the test. For comparison for everybody, afterwards in the Land Cruiser we did pretty much all of the major stuff in Namibia.We did 3000km, about 2,500 of which we're on dirt, or Trails, or technical trails and on this Expedition oh, that was by far the most technical terrain I traversed in Namibia.It was legitimate, it was the most remote. If something went wrong there may have actually been some consequences, the Land Rover is very professional and well prepared. But it was a legitimate four-wheel drive trip, if you were to rent a car and go do this it would be a bucket list trip.

 

Scott Brady: In fact if you want to learn a little bit more about Land Rover Logistics and behind Overland Adventures like this, take a listen to podcast number 11 where I spend some time with David Sneeth who is the Expedition leader for this trip, and then Emma Easter who handled a lot of the logistics. I think there's a lot of interesting lessons that can come from how Land Rover executes on a trip. And then the next thing we're going to talk about is driving Comfort, which I think is a really tactical factor for traveling out of a vehicle. Then we're going to talk about capacity a little bit, then we'll wrap up with durability and reliability before Matt and I give our final conclusions on the car. Let's start out with the technical terrain performance, Matt what were your impressions on the car? Because we kind of went right into Wenzel pass.

 

Matt Scott:  Day one, we got to the start of the trip which was in Northern Namibia and it was kind of a fast dirt road which we'll get to later, then boom right into Wenzel pass, we camped at venzel pass. Fantastic campsite. And I have to say that I walked into this vehicle really skeptical. Oh, I think I want this vehicle to succeed, I want Land Rover to sell this so they can recognize there's a market for four-wheel drive in Overland products and continue developing that. I think the people who are betting against this vehicle are betting against their own interests. I like to think I was healthily skeptical, and I think it's important to do that. As a journalist you have to have your ethics and you have to look after that reader, and it was better than I expected is what I'm getting at. I'll be honest, I wasn't really expecting much I had seen some photos recently of-

 

Scott Brady:  were you thinking of a slightly better version of an LR4?

 

Matt Scott:  that's what I was thinking oh, I didn't think that it would be drastically better. The ability to have that rear Locker, again the traction control is another leap above what we had previously experienced. It’s a very easy car to drive smooth oh, and I think that's even a downside to it is that the car really is working, it's a very smart vehicle. You'll hear me use the analogy of analog vs digital, the Land Cruiser I was driving for example, 100% analog vehicle. there's so much emphasis placed on that analog thing, but a lot has happened in 30 years. It's 2020, our phones know how many steps we've walked up, they track us, everything is relatively smart. Electronics are reliable now. When's the last time your cell phone broke? Again, it's that analog-digital thing, it takes a bit to get used to and you do I want to say surrender a little bit of that driver experience but I thought it was quite capable. Scott and I were previously thinking we could do the Rubicon and we would need sliders which would be very easy to fit. It's a light construction Tire.

 

Scott Brady: And there are reasons for that, I mean to your point about the analog vs digital, after you made that point I thought about it more and as long as it's delivering you the right amount of promise or it's executing a function that improves the driver experience when you are giving up something else, then I think that it makes more sense. And in many ways I think you're making this vehicle more accessible to the driver, someone without a lot of driving experience is going to have a lot better Backcountry experience with this vehicle. And then you give up a lot of fatigue. In particular, I noticed that the steering was very light. This was very early on in the day on Wenzel pass, so I mentioned it to one of the engineers , I said the steering is very vague, it's very digital and it's very light. So I wasn't getting any feedback from the terrain, any rocks or anything like that oh, it's not giving that very typical minor vibration, minor steering wheel movement, it's telling you what the terrain is providing as an input to the vehicle oh, it wasn't getting almost any of that. So I talked to the engineer and he's like,” well, if it's light there's no problem, we can fix that.” He goes into the screen, and he changes in the custom configurator, he changes the steering to heavy, then I got that heavy weight that I wanted. It's pretty amazing but you do give up some of that trail feedback but then you gain driver comfort and you gain a reduction in fatigue which I think is a plus. There's a plus and a minus two everything, in this case there's not just a minus, there's a plus that comes with it. On the technical Terrain performance I would give it a 3.75 out of 5 which is our standard rating scale, which there's a couple of reasons for that. All of the angles are excellent, so you can get up to 11.5 in of ground clearance, you've got about 4each department angle, what's the approach on this one? Matt's going to take a look.

 

Matt Scott: 38 degree approach angle, and a 28-degree breakover angle. So we're in that Wrangler territory.

 

Scott Brady:  the articulation is quite good for a front-rear vehicle.

 

Matt Scott: And I think it's important to note that articulation isn't as important, articulation traditionally, and again I'll use that analog analogy, this vehicle can have tires in the air and it doesn't matter.

 

Scott Brady: And it doesn't matter because the vehicle doesn't surprise the driver. One of the things we use as an ultimate indicator of technical terrain performance is driver confidence. One of the things that hurts driver confidence is when the vehicle responds unpredictably which means when the rear tire gets in the air, when you lift the wheel and it pops up very aggressively. It's very predictable oh, it's very stable, the hood stays very flat. And part of the reason why it has very good articulation is because of the fact that the airbags are cross-linked, which means at lower speeds of valve opens and when one tire compresses up into the wheel well it forces pressure out of that  bag and into the down wheel oh, so it actually creates this forced articulation, and it overcomes the stability that our row bars provide, and it also allows to keep those tires on the ground. The articulation is very good for an independent vehicle.

 

Matt Scott: The thing that I noticed in technical terrain is the lack of head toss, which is all due to that independent rear suspension . Rather than having a beam axle that's transmitting that energy to one side of the vehicle or the other, it's transmitting it to the center access of that vehicle. it was so fascinating. I walked into this, probably like a lot of you guys  are, very skeptical of suspended rear suspension, and I walked away with it again with that analog vs digital argument. It is in a lot of ways better, there's going to be some things where you're going to have to work a little bit more with the Defender, but I enjoy that. I kept saying that it's like the gentleman's Wrangler, it's very capable but it's very comfortable, it's very civilized. And no dust inside. We were going through very dusty conditions, very muddy conditions, Namibia has been in a 7-year drought oh, and I know these are juxtaposed But please understand that Namibia, one place will get 10 mL of rain in a decade, and across that mountain range it will be raining. So we experienced both particularly in the river we were going through. The horse head is like nothing. You were so removed in a good way, we were doing 10 hour days, driving days in the vehicle and I walked out great.

 

Scott Brady: yeah, I think when it comes to technical to rain performance I look at it that there's probably 3% of my travels that have more capability then what the defender has. And that would be something like Crossing Antarctica, Crossing Greenland, where we had to build highly specialized vehicles. Any other of those locations, most of the time the defender will do a better job oh, some of the time it will struggle a little more than a Wrangler. But I think what is important to recognize, is that if you compare it to the previous Defender, it's infinitely more capable. And for the listeners, I drive a Defender 110, and that vehicle would have struggled to cross a lot of the terrain that the new Defender did with ease.

 

Matt Scott: I don't think it would have made it through the river. To be fair, some of the new Defenders had to winch oh, you would have been working.

 

Scott Brady: It would have taken everything I have in the well to get that vehicle through there.

 

Matt Scott: You definitely could do it but-

 

Scott Brady: it would have been much more difficult and here's another couple things that would have changed, I would have been spent at the end of the day and I would have done it at half the speed. And it's not like we were being aggressive, we were just easily traveling through the terrain at twice the speed.

 

Matt Scott: the limit is just higher, and the base is much higher.

 

Scott Brady: So overall I think that for me, Matt will give his thoughts to summarize technical terrain performance, but for me it ended up being driver confidence, very predictable, highly tractable, very stable, no surprises out of the vehicle. But it does lack that last three or four percent of capability that you would get from a Wrangler, particularly if you wanted to modify it for an extreme Terrain. But then you get outside of the scope of most Overland travel. You're just talking about recreational 4-wheeling, and that's not what this podcast is about. This is about vehicle based travel, and in that regard for technical terrain performance I give it a 3.75 out of 5. I was really happy with it.

 

Matt Scott: Yeah, I'd probably rate it just a bit higher. I’d probably give it a four out of five. My motivation is travel, experience, it's culture, that's what overlanding is to me.I know I rag on about that but overlanding is not Rubicon, overlanding is not triple bypass shocks and 37's even though I might have some of that stuff, but yeah it was a very comfortable vehicle oh, I think it was very capable for a traveler. It's more than you would ever need. I think on this Trail where we did vinzelles pass, which I think is a lot of this basis on this technical terrain performance, that is about as much as I would do as a traveler if I was on an extended trip. That remote, there would be real consequences. There was one obstacle, kind of a shelf where the left front kind of goes down into a hole, and you didn't really realize how much the vehicle was working for you, and then you passed that and you looked down and there were two rolled Vehicles down there. There was a hilex down there and an old Land Cruiser down there that had rolled. That to me shows that it was a legitimate Trail I think if you can roll a vehicle that's technical in this land Cruise through it. 

 

Scott Brady:And for those of you listening that might say oh it looks like you only went down Wenzel pass, just know that the new Defender was also taken up the pass by some of the scouts.

 

Matt Scott:  And the first half of the trip did have some decent climbs. It is easiest the way we went, overall very favorable.

 

Scott Brady: Now, what do you think about the dirt road performance? A lot of smiles for me.

 

Matt Scott: A lot of smiles for me. Having some time to reflect, and going back to This Land Cruiser though I was immediately driving afterwards because I don't think anybody would argue that the 79 series is a bad choice, arguably the 70s is a golden staple. We were doing one hundred, a hundred and twenty on a closed course section. I was cruising at a hundred and fifty and we didn't even realize, my drive partner and I looked at each other and realized that I should slow down. And it wasn't that we were even pushing the vehicle, it's just that it's that well done and the suspension really works, it's very comfortable. Some of these were the exact same roads that I was struggling in this 79 series that I was struggling to do 70 kilometres an hour. That particular engine has about a 4000 RPM Redline, if I was at 3500 I could maybe do 85. So that's just kind of a way to cross compare for the listeners, it's breath of capability is pretty good. That was the best in singing for me was its dirt road performance. If I was looking for a technical terrain performer I'd probably still go with a Wrangler. If I was seeking out recreational four wheel drive, you couldn't pay me to drive anything else over extended dirt roads. It is very comfortable.

 

Scott Brady: It's very comfortable and there are some very technical reasons for that that we'd like to go over so that you're not just hearing the summary of our opinions. With the vehicle being four wheel dependent, all of those inputs are being isolated typically to just a single wheel. That's the problem with a beam axle Land Cruiser in particular. Anytime that for example the right front wheel has an event on the road, a lot of that energy is being translated across the entire beam axle, which is being translated into the driver. And it also affects the vehicle's handling, so it can interrupt the trassi, it can also interrupt the traction, and it can affect braking. So for example there are several of what I consider gold standard tests for tractive performance and for limited handling capability on a dirt road. What I do is a series of tests, the first one is vehicle stability control on emergency lane change. The vehicle stability control was very predictable, it did come on very aggressively when I did an aggressive Lane change because the vehicle was beginning to oversteer. So the back right corner slows down, strains the vehicle out oh, it did do that very aggressively. Anything  less than that, very predictable and most drivers wouldn't even know it's even happening. Then I did vehicle stability control, one of the things I want a vehicle to do is turn off VSC and allow for some ya and allow for some oversteer, or some even controlled understeer, trail braking, all of those dynamic characteristics that make it really fun to drive this car off road. It can actually, with the right skills make the vehicle perform better and safer. So with vehicle stability control off, it did allow for a lot of fun.

 

Matt Scott: That's one area where I would maybe disagree a little bit, I did think that regardless of the drive mode I was in, when I turned that stability control off it was still on.

 

Scott Brady: It doesn't go off completely.

 

Matt Scott: I noticed it particularly in the sand. We were, particularly in the diesel model, experiencing a lot of head tossing in sand. Scott mentioned that a lot of these tracks are driven by Land Cruisers that have a narrower track width. So you didn't necessarily fit into the ruts, and the vehicle is trying to keep you in the ruts too much, I just wanted it to go off. The vehicle wasn't having any problems, kind of steer left into the rut and it would kind of break the right front and drag you back and forth into this head toss. Even with VSC off and in sand mode. And that was in the diesel, which we will get to. We drove very similar conditions, Paul and I and a very experienced racer herself oh, we thought that it was drastically different. So that could be a pre-production issue, there were some pre-production things. When we went to turn the bass up it went down on the stereo, and there were some little things but these were essentially prototype vehicles that we were able to drive. So there are some things that we were able to look past.

 

Scott Brady: And that could be the case because when I was doing the higher speed dirt road driving it was all in the straight six, so it may have a different map thing for the VSC, that's very possible. But in my experience with it I found that there was a lot of the linearity, a lot of traceability which means in a large sweeping corner it did a great job of lion keeping, it didn't favor understeer which is something that I don't like. The manufacturers do that for safety, but it did not understand her, very neutral, really held the line well. I did Heavy braking in a corner, that's one of the tests we always do, because let's say a donkey has walked onto the road or another vehicle has blown the corner and you need to do an aggressive braking in a corner. What does the vehicle do, does it lose its mind? This car did not lose its mind, in fact excellent weight transfer to the front axle, very effective braking, ABS intervention absolutely.

 

Matt Scott: Very little dive again because of that air suspension and those ride heights, it's able to overcompensate it. One thing I did give it five stars on was its abs. In the Land Cruiser oryx Runs Out add an emergency stop, and it's just instantly ABS kicks in and on a dirt road that's not really a good thing. We're with the Land Rover Defender, it was driver-focused I felt.

 

Scott Brady: And it would allow for even some lock up. As long as it wasn't creating an event where the vehicle was under steering or oversteering. And there were a couple of other things that I thought were class-leading, one of the things I noticed was the windshield wipers. They were one of the best windshield wipers I've ever seen in my life.

 

Matt Scott: When I think about it, going down the horse that was 100 River Crossings oh, this was a river that periodically flows and it was moving. So y'all really good.

 

Scott Brady: Or if you get dust on the windshield. And one of the reasons why I think it works well is they have these huge hoses that go to the sprayers, and the sprayers are on the arm, they're not on the hood. As it's sweeping, it's spraying the surface so it's getting really good coverage of the washer fluid. It seems like a little thing, kind of like not important but when you think about how much we use our wipers to clear dust during a trip.

 

Matt Scott: The only place I could see that being an issue, originally being from Chicago, is spraying that fluid on the windshield is a Lifeline sometimes with ice, I would like to see how that would work for listeners in colder climates.

 

Scott Brady :heated windshield.

 

Matt Scott: Oh, there you go.*laughing* It's not a problem. There you go, I take that back.

 

Scott Brady:  Extremely low driver fatigue, very easy to drive. Even if you're doing standard speeds on roads like that, you're going to end the day much more relaxed, oh, much less fatigued. If you have an event, an animal runs out, a kid runs out after a ball, the vehicle is very predictable and very capable of stopping those events. I did notice a little bit more body roll, which I'm thinking was partly due to the fact that there was a hundred and fifty some-odd pounds on the roof.

 

Matt Scott: there was a full spare tire on top, little bit of fuel, max traps, a shovel, and obviously a roof rack. But the defender has class-leading static roof load capability.

 

Scott Brady: 370lb Dynamic roof loading.

 

Matt Scott:With your roof tent and your roof rack, there's some room to spare. Land Rover is going to have a roof tent out, and it's not the cheapest Chinese bitter it's, I won't say who but it is a well-known, well-respected company who is manufacturing for them. I think it's kind of cool taking that into consideration.

 

Scott Brady: It's an option while buying the car that is kind of cool. So overall the dirt road performance was good, I'd give it a 3.75 to 4, I was being slightly critical of its dirt road performance, I'm acknowledging that I have a little bit of confirmation bias on that because I wanted it to handle a little bit of the larger events a little better. So think about a g out of the bottom of a wash or something like that, I was getting a little bit more promising oh, so very light on rebound. But after the Land Rover, I talked to the Land Rover engineers, they gave me some feedback on that that definitely lets me push it up to a four with an acknowledgement of the lighter rebound. And they said they intentionally made the rebound light because they wanted the suspension to react extremely quickly to input. So think about climbing a Rocky Hill, they wanted the suspension to be very quick to respond to keep tires on the ground. So they did it with intention. Anytime I noticed something that's maybe a little off in a specific scenario and I talked to an engineer about it and they say, “ We understand that, we did it intentionally and this is why.” I definitely give them a couple points back for that. I would say I'd probably give it a 4. How about you mat?

 

Matt Scott: I thought that for a wagon SUV it was really good. I used to have a raptor, maybe it's not as fun to drive as that, but you're not really expecting it to be. but I think there's actually some scenarios where the Defender I would happily keep up. Speaking with the engineers oh, it has a 2in shock, quite a bit of fluid volume. I know everybody these days is going to these crazy things for travelers. A 2-inch shock is money, it's kind of right in the middle. So you're going to have the durability, I noticed almost zero fade. It was great, I previously thought that the Gladiator was one of the most comfortable vehicles I had driven for dirt road performance, a long wheelbase being relatively soft sprung. The Rubicon comes with fox shots that definitely beats that. I'm going to give it a four and a half. I thought that particularly like going through the washes, there's a lot of square Edge bumps and it was very rounded on those to a point where if you wanted to have a similar ride quality in that scenario from a traditionally sprung vehicle, you'd have to get shock tuning. That was my opinion oh, so four and a half out of five on that one.

 

Scott Brady: Yeah, so that's like a class-leading dirt road performance for you. I would say it was very close to that for me.

 

Matt Scott: I'm trying to think of what would be better, to be honest. It's more comfortable than the G-Class.

 

Scott Brady: mine handles larger events better but that's only because it has perfectly tuned shocks. more rebound control.

 

Matt Scott: It is comparable dirt road performance to my modified Gladiator on 37in tires with King shocks.

 

Scott Brady: Would you say that the Raptor is better?

 

Matt Scott:yeah, the Raptors better but there's also probably 18 in wide, it's a lot more stressful to drive, a lot more snap oversteer.

 

Scott Brady: this car was so predictable.

 

Matt Scott: I'd go into Corners hot on purpose and with the corners. It was interesting to sit in the passenger seat with Emmy who has won the Rebelle rally once or twice, won it last year in a Rolls-Royce, has competed in the Baja 1000, regularly competes and she knows what she's doing, and it was comfortable. It was very composed, again I go back to that gentleman's Wrangler.

 

Scott Brady: So definitely good points for dirt road performance.

 

Matt Scott: If you're the kind of person who is exploring, who is not rock crawling I think stock-for-stock there's really not much like it. I mean, multi-stage airbags, it's finally at a point where the technology has matured in my opinion.

 

Scott Brady: Yeah, so those who think this is just an LR4 with suspension underneath there, it's not oh, it's an all new generation. It's also oh, there's been some mistakes and saying that this vehicle shares a seat with the discovery, and it's actually an entirely different subframe. There is some architecture that is shared with the Discovery but other than the functional architecture, almost every part is different or reinforced for durability. But the thing that is most notable is the air bag suspension stage, so there's multiple diaphragms in there which allows for it to Ram up. Think about it like a progressive spring, this was very interesting talking to the engineer's. When we had an LR4 or a lr3 it dropped at 30 miles an hour to the normal setting on the suspension, and I always thought that was because of vehicle Dynamics and Center gravity. and the engineer says, “ It's a factor, but it's a minor factor.” The real reason why they had to drop the air suspension was because the airbags were so hard because of all the pressure in them, that it was transmitting tons of force to the suspension opponents and connections. And the airbag itself, so they could have airbag failures, they could have AR failures, they could have bushing failures, they could have component failures because it was so Ridgid. Now, with this new Defender being multi-stage and progressive, there are elements of the air bags that are still very compliant despite the fact that you're having larger events. So, as a result, and this is very notable, it doesn't lower down to normal mode until 50 miles per hour now. But it's in two stages, so at 30 miles an hour it drops maybe 20 ml, then at the 50 mile mark it drops completely to the normal range. You retain a lot of running ground clearance at higher speeds.

 

Matt Scott:  Before you basically had that one airbag, basically with this very able to increase a portion of it and still have the compliance and the original rate of what it would be at a standard rate.

 

Scott Brady: Impressive technology and it just continues to get better and better, Land Rover puts all of their eggs in the air suspension basket, they spent a lot of money engineering them better and it's really getting good.

 

Matt Scott: They will have a coil sprung steel coil version, we did not get to drive that but I have to say I have always been against people converting Land Rover specifically, lr3s, LR4s, into coils because you basically end up with a Subaru with low charge. you're losing that cross-links capability, this vehicle exceeds because of its technology.

 

Scott Brady: You want to keep it in good working order, I think once you get up to the 100000 mile mark you should probably look at swapping out airbags.

 

Matt Scoott: and to be fair close Springs rat out too, they sag oh, they just don't have the same consequence as if they fail. Semi trucks have been running air suspension forever. The technology exists, it is durable.

 

Scott Brady: So, on-road performance, Dynamic performance, I'm going to talk about that a little bit because I don't think that we can provide a final location on a rating for that because we simply did not have enough time on the road. But in the four or five kilometers that I drove it on the pavement I was very aggressive with it , I did as many of the testing elements as I could, again minor body roll I think a lot of that was influenced by the roof load. But very controllable, good braking in a corner, exceptional stopping performance particularly out of the straight 6 model that I was driving at the time. very traceable around corners, this was fortunately not just a straight section of pavement, it was pretty curvy so I was able to push a little bit and it would easily outperform Wranglers and it would also outperform of 4Runner based on my experience as well which I would say is a competitor's space. So on road performance, we've got to hold off on a final rating on that but I think it did do a good job dynamically in the short section that we had. And then we're going to move on to drive or comfort, how do you want to summarize that Matt?

 

Matt Scott: A 5 and move on. *laughing*  It was class-leading. The interior is great on it, it almost looks like a Defender most from the front seats it has that open classic Defender Dash. I always take my wallet out, I take my keys out, I take my phone out when I get a new car and here there's actually some place to put them like in my Wrangler or even my G Class there's no where to put this stuff. With the defender the entire Dash is essentially hollow, there's plenty of room to put stuff. You could put Maps, you could put GPS, charging ports everywhere, it was definitely very well-thought-out.

 

Scott Brady: The Magnesium piece that comes all the way across it's got the defender on it. Even the infotainment screen looks like an iPad if you think about how we travel, oftentimes we've got a RAM mount that's holding our phone that we're using to navigate, it was like it was meant to be there.

 

Matt Scott: I will say in my experience with Land Rovers in infotainment has not been the best, I think it's a little bit to design focus, a little bit buggy. These were pre-production Vehicles, so no final comments on that.

 

Scott Brady: But definitely better than previous models.

 

Matt Scott: Yeah, better than previous models. They have an option of a front bench seat so 3 seats up front, really cool, I don't know if I would do that.

 

Scott Brady: I would want to do it, but I don't know if I would actually need it, but I just think it's so cool though they have similar seat options that quickens back to the original seat series truck. And when the seats down it's got all those little charge ports in the back, it's got a couple cup holders.

 

Matt Scott: I can't remember, did the series have A center seat?

 

Scott Brady: Some of them do.

 

Matt Scott: I can't remember if mine did.

 

Scott Brady: A lot of people swap them out for a console but originally they came with receipts in the front.

 

Matt Scott: My favorite option for that center console is what I will call the second center console without the seat, without the full center console, I had plenty of places to put cameras, phones, gears and all that stuff. So I could get to the back of the vehicle and set up the kids, dogs. I looked at it and thought we'll sweep and my dog can come hang out up front.

 

Scott Brady: That would be a nice setup. If you wanted to sit in a fridge between the front seats you could.

 

Matt Scott: I think the interior is a high point. To kind of use this into a transition to the exterior oh, I think the interior is a modern Defender, I think the rear of the vehicle is the modern Defender. I don't like the front end. I not only have concerns I like to fit some kind of steel bumper, two vehicles for animal strike protection. It's actually steel underneath, they have to consider, you have to realize that they're designing this car for the next 10 or 15 years at a time when things are going to be going electric, and a Time when things are autonomous. Pedestrian safety is a thing, but you're now leading the world in terms of emissions and impact safety. So we're going to see that stuff come over, and why is it a bad thing that you hit a pedestrian and they don't die? Why are people sticking to their guns? This kind of makes you sound like a sociopath. *laughing*

 

Scott Brady: True, I think that they just could have carried some of that design language from the rear of the vehicle and the interior of the vehicle into the front of the vehicle. And I’ll be specific so it doesn't just sound like a morphis, right. I don't like the fact that the round headlight is cut in the top. The top 25% of it, if they had retained an entirely round headlight like the original Defender that would have helped. I think it looks a little bit sad or angry.

 

Matt Scott: it kind of looks like the Jeep angry eye Grill.

 

Scott Brady: it does, and I don't think that that was necessary. And I think things just like that where if they had given it a full round headlight, if you look up the new G-Class it's almost interceptable between you almost know what you're looking for between a 2020 G Class in the previous model. Because they retained so much of the design language and it still meets The Pedestrian safety requirements. Once you get into design, it's so personal. Obviously given the fact that I drive a classic Defender and that I've drove a lot of Land Rovers, I wanted the front end to look a certain way and it didn't quite match the other vehicles in the lineup, and it didn't quite match the rest of the design language of the vehicle. I suspect that the market will address that. And that will be interesting to see how the market addresses that. It will be really interesting to see what comes of it, I am grateful to see that there is a factory option.

 

Matt Scott: Yeah, warranty on winch with synthetic lines. You can see the line too.

 

Scott Brady:Even the recovery points, they were all design to take 3 * the Pressed vehicle weight rating. That's really impressive. I'm evaluating the vehicle on Merit, on Merritt the vehicle is quite good and that's the important thing, I just wanted to address the headlights.

 

Matt Scott: When we saw it a few months before release, I remember one of the engineer's telling me there was a 25 or 50 ml sub-meter frame Lift drop to lift the vehicle, and it was capable of 50 + 35. They wouldn't have that fact or know that if it hadn't been tried. Don't forget there's the special Vehicles Division.

 

Scott Brady: this is round one, it's going to be fun stuff that's going to come I'm sure, and Land Rover will address that. So we're going to move on to capacity and that's just going to be giving you guys some specs because we are important on capacity. I gave it a 4.25 to 4.5, it's classically incapacity, maybe even strongly on the four point five. But you've got up to a 1900 pound payload oh, that's like nothing else in the class. It's nearly double the payload of a Wrangler, so you're actually buying a vehicle that can take some stuff. Extra fuel, extra tires, equipment that you need to go remote.

 

Matt Scott: even a 1000 pound payload.

 

Scott Brady: there you go, so nearly twice the payload of a Raptor.

 

Matt Scott: And that's more than a ram Rebel, that's really impressive guys.

 

Scott Brady: It's more than a 200 series Landcruiser, it's more than anything in the class or even Associated classes. It is a very good payload rating of which I give Land Rover so much credit and respect for. Dynamic roof load rating of 370 lb, which is again class-leading, there's nothing that's even close which means full rack, full roof tent, I'm not suggesting that people do that by the way, but it has the capability of doing that much. Which means that Land Rover has certified the vehicle to take that kind of roof rating. It has to pass all these Dynamic tests with all that weight on top which means if you don't run a bunch of weight on top, the vehicle is going to exceed your expectations on handling. And then the last one was Towing, 8200 lb towing capacity, it's better than any mid-size truck, it Rivals most 1/2 ton trucks. Nothing in the class that's even close.

 

Matt Scott: I get a sense it’ll handle it quite well too. Longer based air suspension depending on your ton weight for a trailer,  you're not going to be squatting and the rear end like a traditional Sprinter.

 

Scott Brady: And the engineers shared with us that they built all of the towing AIDS into the vehicle, so it's going to control trailer Sway, and also managed the ton waiver well because of the air suspension. We're close to wrapping things up here but I want to talk real quickly about durability and reliability. It is difficult for Matt and I to write this because these are pre-production units and we also don't have a lot of time with vehicles. I will talk about durability and a sense that, if you look under the car and you look at the skid plating, and you look at the size of the AR and you look at the things that we did with it, it's not just that Matt did this trip and then I did this trip, there was I believe 8 waves total. The same vehicles are being abused over eight cycles and we did not see any structural component failures. I think that durability is actually going to be very good when it's compared to any Land Rover before.

 

Matt Scott: I went and did kind of a cursory search on Land Rovers forums for durability issues for LR3 and LR4. You know there's some concerns with the fluid-filled bushings that they were using but those are all at a hundred thousand miles. A lot of vehicles have fluid filled bushings that are replaced. Bushings are larger in diameter, I mean some of these things look like medium trucks and they're very large. The lower control arm ball joint is something I have a figure on, that's actually 5 ml larger than discovery, and there's no real problems with Discovery. I've taken full size Discovery, Range Rovers through hell's Revenge, poison spiders, and a waterfall in all that kind of stuff with no issues.

 

Scott Brady: I don't believe you're going to see durability issues with this vehicle, I think that there's potential for it so I don't want to stick a rating on it yet because we just don't specifically know yet. But I do believe that looking at the vehicle in seeing what is indoor with a bunch of drivers, I think it's pretty impressive. I watched some people have some pretty major events with these cars where they weren't planning ahead as drivers in the vehicle survived it. So I think that says a lot.

 

Matt Scott: But as you said, three big days is a lot different than a year of having one and really evaluating. Obviously these cars are going to be looked at each night and any small issues, they're going to fix it and have mechanics. I don't see any cause for concern.

 

Scott Brady: On the reliability side I think that's obviously the elephant in the room, I think we can spend a few minutes talking about it, but I think there's really good news on reliability with Land Rover. I did some research on liability around Land Rover and from 2003, which is the earliest GD power report that I could find, and that is going to be the number of defects per 100 Vehicles. So in 2003 Land Rover had 441 defects per 100 vehicles and it was, other than Kia, it had the worst reliability rating. But, if you look at 2020, Land Rover has reduced that number by half and if you compare it to Toyota from 2003, and this is stretching a little bit-

 

Matt Scott: yeah, it's a bit of a weird thing but it makes sense.

 

Scott Brady: I think if everybody listens to me for a moment and looks at it with an open mind, because I don't want to have any confirmation bias here but I want to at least possess this consideration. In 2003 Toyota had 201 defects per 100 vehicles. In 2020 Land Rover has 220 defects per 100 vehicles. So that's only 9% more than Toyota of nearly 20 years ago, but if you think about it, how much land rover has improved oh, and if you think about a 2003 Tacoma, 2003 gen 3 4Runner, 2003 100 series Land Cruiser, the tundra which is very reliable. You could almost say that a Land Rover of today is as reliable as a Toyota of 2003. Now that's not saying, you take a 2003 Toyota and you're looking at reliability 20 years later, no. If you compare apples to apples and you're changing the dates, they are nearly the same reliability rating. They've really improved, and everybody's working on reliability, everybody recognizes that it's a key selling attribute.

 

Matt Scott: I mean for the internal combustion engine oh, it better be reliable. Otherwise, what was the point?*laughing*

 

Scott Brady: Exactly. So what's your summary on the vehicle?

 

Matt Scott: It's a good vehicle. I mean, class-leading off road ride quality I would say. The interior is very nice, the technical performance really surprised me, I was expecting a jacked up Discovery. and those multi-stage airbags are an Innovation. The world changed when the series came out in 1948. We had just defeated the Nazis, King George was the Monarch. Most of the world hadn't even seen a vehicle. Since then we've gone to the Moon, we've done a lot of really cool stuff.

 

Scott Brady: The Land Rover needs to be a different brand, they can't make the least expensive, most simple four-wheel drive anymore.

 

Matt Scott: It's always going to be an expensive place, we have the highlands made in Thailand, we have Japanese manufacturers, we have the United States unless you've traveled extensively you probably wouldn't have even seen a lot of the Chinese vehicles that are coming out. And Africa you still see a lot of Toyotas but we're starting to see Great Walls, and you're starting to see these things. Land Rovers lost the utility Market decades ago. It's a Marvel that the defender was made as long as it was so that was a blessing in disguise. I look up the new Defender as being in sync. The defender realistically should have had more updates, and it wouldn't have needed to be as drastic.

 

Scott Brady: It ended up being revolutionary, not evolutionary and I think that is why people are resisting, some of the traditionalists are resisting the vehicle more. For me, it's got class-leading payload, class-leading driver Comfort, it has got excellent technical terrain performance. I would say one of the wider breaths of capability, higher speed on the dirt, lower speed technical terrain. If you look at the vehicle and its merits I think it's one of the best Land Rovers ever made, I think that people would come out on the name, I think if you get hung up on the name just call it an LR6. Call it whatever you want to call it and judge the vehicle on its merits. And overall I think it's going to do so well, I think if it proves to be reliable and durable it will sell long-term. And I think the Conn's just a few, I think the street 6 model we're going to get isn't going to fit an 18 inch wheel, and I'd like to see that. I'd like to see Land Rover address that because I think it's going to be really important for people's expectations. I think it's going to affect drivers. I thinkIt's going to improve brake modulation a little bit. and then it's going to be interesting to see how the aftermarket responds, if the aftermarket responds favorably and there's a bunch of cool parts for it this thing is going to be a hit for a lot of folks. And Matt and I are going to do our little build sheets on these vehicles so you can see If Matt was going to buy a Defender what he would choose We will put that in the show notes, and the same for me. We will have some additional information in the show notes as well and Keep an eye out on expeditionportal.com When the Embargo lifts the25th of March, that's when this podcast is dropping. Look at ExpeditionPortal.com for a very detailed overview of the vehicle Where will go into additional information, more than in this podcast.

 

Matt Scott:I do have one more Khan, and I've pointedly left it for the end , Land Rover if you listen to this why did you put a plastic tread plate on the hood On the fenders that can't actually be stepped on?  *laughing*

 

Scott Brady:And on that note, we'll see you later, thank you all for listening.

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