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April 22, 2024

[Test Drive] All-new Defender trumpets return of off-road champ

PUBLISHED : April 01, 2024 - 09:37

UPDATED : April 01, 2024 - 09:37

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The 2024 all-new Defender (Jaguar Land Rover Korea)

INJE, Gangwon Province -- “(Other carmakers) are worried when (they) see snow and rain, but we love it, and I think we’re going to have a great day,” said Robin Colgan, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Korea, as he greeted reporters taking part in the automaker’s test drive for the 2024 all-new Defender in Inje, Gangwon Province, on Tuesday.

As the 48-kilometer test drive for the JLR’s flagship sports utility vehicle included on- and off-road routes that had muddy and snowy terrains due to the snowy weather earlier in the morning, the Defender demonstrated why it is considered one of the most prominent off-roaders in the world that can also handle on-road driving with comfort and ease.

For the event, The Korea Herald reporter had a chance to drive the Defender 110 county edition -- the medium-sized Defender standing between the smallest two-door Defender 90 and the largest Defender 130.

The first part of the off-road driving experience contained streams flowing 85 centimeters deep, puddles and steep muddy hills.

Maneuvering through the extreme terrains came easy after turning on the low-range mode with the gear set in neutral. The low-range mode reduced the engine speed while upping the torque to provide more power to the wheels to allow steady, yet forceful movement of the vehicle, making it light work for the driver to get through the tough off-road conditions.

The second part of the off-road testing took place along mountainous terrains. The Defender’s configurable terrain response technology shone on the winding paths along the mountain trails covered with dirt, sand and some snow.

Having six modes of normal driving, wade, rock crawl, mud and ruts, grass/gravel/snow and sand, the Land Rover SUV’s terrain response technology guided the best steering and traction control for the driver.

The 2024 all-new Defender (Jaguar Land Rover Korea)

The Defender then showed how its hill descent control function could practically allow for one-pedal driving as the driver took the unpaved path down from the peak of the mountain.

The hill descent control, which is designed to allow gentle deceleration at a low speed on downhill roads, prevented the vehicle from going over a certain speed. As the initial target speed was set at 10 kilometers per hour, the SUV automatically and smoothly slowed down to the set speed without the driver pressing the brake pedal once it was going at a speed of over 10 kph. The driver could select the target speed up to 30 kph.

The on-road courses in between the off-road drives offered a glimpse of how the off-road-tailored SUV can be just as comfortable for urban driving.

The iconic exterior of the Defender gave a sense of solidness and strength. For the interior design, the visible bolts and nuts on the doors added more to the SUV’s rigid vibes, albeit some may dislike the old-school look.

Meanwhile, JLR Korea is holding a large-scale driving event for Korean customers named “Destination Defender” for three weekends from March 29 to April 14 to offer extreme off-road experiences. According to the automaker, it will be only the third Defender event and the first held outside of the United States.

JLR has sold over 3,300 Defenders in the Korean market since its launch in 2020, and the SUV’s upbeat sales ignited the brand’s turnaround last year. The automaker sold 5,019 vehicles in Korea last year, up 61.2 percent from 2022.

The 2024 all-new Defender (Jaguar Land Rover Korea)

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
The Korea Herald

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