The Minimalist Land Rover Defender We Want But Can’t Have

The new Land Rover Defender was released earlier this year with a mixed response from the automotive community. But it got an optimistic response from overlanders looking for a high-tech solution to vehicle-based travel.

One common complaint from construction companies and vehicle-based travelers alike is the relatively high cost of the new Defender and the absence of a stripped-down trim that more closely resembles Defenders of old. Land Rover has heard your call and has answered, with one major roadblock.


The Hard Top Defender we can’t have. | Land Rover

The Hard Top Defender we can’t have. | Land Rover

The Defender Hard Top will be available in the 90 and 110 wheelbase and will provide contractors and overlanders alike the comfort and capability of the new defender with a minimalistic cargo area and the payload to move gear in style.

The Hard Top name traces its roots back to the Land Rover Series 1 in the 1950s when a Hard Top option was made available to Series 1 owners looking to increase exposure to the elements as well as security. The new Hard Top pays homage to the original with a fixed metal roof and a roofline reminiscent of simpler times and simpler vehicles. The cabin is simplified with no second or third row seats providing plenty of room for cargo. An optional jump seat will be available in the front for a seating capacity of three. 


Land Rover

Land Rover

Although the Hard Top models present a simpler solution for niche buyers, the new Defender is far from simple in terms of technology and features. Features available on the marquee Defender models will also be available on the Hard Top including Pivi Pro infotainment and twin e-sim technology that allows SOTA (Software Over the Air) downloads of firmware updates directly from Land Rover, instead of needing to schedule time with a dealer.

In addition to all of the standard features on the new Defender, Hard Top models will be equipped with a comprehensive suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems to impress the contractors and delivery drivers with a dual purpose in the overlanding community.

Since the cargo area has the potential to be full of supplies or gear, a 3D camera system will allow the driver to view their surroundings from the dash touch screen monitor and navigate tight driving situations as well as view all sides of the vehicle from inside when parked. A remote smartphone app will be available to track route history, fuel status, and current location- a fabulous addition for travelers wanting to track a journey and  keep family and friends abreast of their location without the need for an additional device.


Land Rover

Land Rover

Out of the box the new Defender is well-prepared for mild off-roading and overland travel with coil sprung air suspension boasting 11.5” inches (291 mm) of ground clearance with approach, breakover, and departure angles of 38, 28, and 40 degrees respectively. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Defender Hard Top is the claimed 7700 lbs. (3500kg) towing capacity, more than the Jeep Gladiator, Ford Ranger, and nearly as much as the V8-powered Toyota Land Cruiser. An Advanced Tow Assist System allows drivers to back a trailer with the help of a rotary dial in the center console for precise movements not easily achieved with a steering wheel. 


Land Rover

Land Rover

What is the aforementioned road block? Like most good things in the automotive world, the Land Rover Defender Hard Top models look to only be available overseas for a steal of a deal at £35,500 ($45,792). I will keep my fingers crossed that once Land Rover starts taking orders in late 2020 they will see the value in bringing the minimalistic Defender across the pond, but this author isn’t holding his breath. 


Header image: Land Rover

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