The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Fans of the previous Defender will love the lofty driving position; it feels significantly higher than most of its rivals'. It’s easy to set everything up just how you want it, too, especially on SE models and above, which offer 12-way electrical seat adjustment as standard. Whichever trim level you choose, there’s lots of up-and-down and in-and-out movement to the steering wheel. Adjustment is electric with SE and HSE trim and manual with S.
The Defender’s dashboard is very much fit for purpose, too, with clear dials and chunky buttons that are designed to be used even when you're wearing gloves. Go for S trim or above and the analogue instrument dials behind the steering wheel are replaced by a configurable digital display. It's clear and can show lots of information, but it isn’t quite as good as Audi's Virtual Cockpit equivalent, as found in the Q7.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Thanks to the Defender’s boxy proportions and high set driving position, it’s remarkably easy to judge its outer extremities when threading it through car parks or down narrow country lanes.
However, the combination of the Defender 110’s sizeable length and chunky rear door-mounted spare wheel makes it tricky to see out of the back. Thankfully, all models get front and rear parking sensors plus a 360 degree camera as standard.
If you pay a bit extra (or step up to SE or HSE trim), you'll get a rear-view mirror that, at the touch of a button, becomes a screen that shows a view directly behind the car, so you can still see behind you while driving even when the boot is loaded to the ceiling. It’s a very clever system and one that works very well in practice.
Sat nav and infotainment
The Defender features Land Rover’s latest infotainment system, which is a big step on from those of the Discovery Sport and full-size Discovery. Its responses are swift and its graphics impressively sharp, and there’s lots of functionality, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, as standard. These allow the entire screen to display a trimmed-down version of your phone's home screen, so you can use your phone’s native apps.
Our favourite bit of the dashboard’s design, though, is that you’re not completely reliant on the touchscreen. Climate settings and off-road functions are controlled via physical buttons that are located below the 10in infotainment screen. This not only lets you control these crucial functions when wearing gloves, but we also find that the physical buttons are far less distracting on the move.
Land Rover has taken a back-to-basics approach with the Defender’s internal design, and it works. Certain structural elements are deliberately exposed; a cross-car beam functions both as a part of the dashboard and as a passenger grab handle, for example. There are loads of exposed torx-head bolts dotted around the cabin to give the car an adventurous feel, and most of the surfaces you touch are covered in rugged-feeling rubberised material.
Weaknesses? Well, the dashboard buttons and electric window switches don’t operate with quite the slick precision they do in the best German rivals, but they stop short of feeling low-rent.