Defender proves popular with the ladies

PURISTS may not agree, but the all-new Land Rover Defender leaves its predecessor in the dust as far as the ladies are concerned. With modern functionality and typically high-brow Land Rover form, this first overhaul of the iconic Defender shape in 37 years provides plenty of pleasure, and takes away any 4WD pain. 

The result? It’s perfect as an affluent woman’s daily drive and a comfortable portal to her outback adventures.

And it’s not just us who think so. The Defender was recently named “supreme winner” of the 2021 Women’s World Car of the Year (WWCOTY) award, as voted by 50 female motoring journalists – including Australia’s Nadine Armstrong and Liz Swanton – from 38 countries on five continents.

Decided between cars launched between January and December 2020, the Defender also took out the Best Medium SUV category alongside other winners including the Ferrari F8 Spider (Best Performance Car) and the Lexus LC 500 Cabrio (Best Luxury Convertible). 

The WWCOTY awards kicked off in New Zealand in 2009, and rates vehicles on aspects including safety, performance, comfort, technology and value for money. 

Executive president of the awards Marta Garcia says the fact its jury is made up entirely of women motoring journalists gives it enormous value because its decisions represent the liking and preferences of millions of women drivers globally. 

“But cars have no gender and are not subject to stereotypes so the winners of these awards are, quite simply, the best cars in the world,” Garcia says.

We experienced the fully-specced First Edition Land Rover Defender 110 from Melbourne City Land Rover. Housing a diesel 240 engine, it ticked off all of our test criteria across luxury and safety aspects, and for enabling us to run our lives from it thanks to its smart-yet-functional simplicity tech. The fact it had sexy street appeal is a bonus. 

Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon (if you can get one) and Jeep Wrangler. Apart from being more comfortable on the road than both those cars, the Defender is easier to get into thanks to the lowered “access” height of its standard air suspension (which does a good job of disguising its size). 

The spaciousness in both rows make it family-friendly and provides space for plentiful power outlets and storage cubbies to better deal with the demands of modern life. The Defender’s rear bench seat could comfortably fit three adults, and has an optional third row. We were also grateful that the side-swinging boot door was conveniently hinged for on-street footpath loading. It’s the sort of detail that makes it clear the designers were actually thinking about the end user.

Equipment unique to our First Edition compared to the regular Defender line-up included a black contrast roof and unique exterior package, panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and 20-inch alloy wheels. Heated features upfront included 12-way electric memory seats and the steering wheel. Metal tread plates with “First Edition” engraving made for a stately entrance, while twin front cupholders up front were a welcome sight for those of us always on the run.

Prices range from $AUD69,990 to $137,100 plus on-road costs. Our First Edition was priced from $102,500, including a five-year warranty, before on-road costs..