After years of waiting, the all-new, very-different Land Rover Defender finally debuted last year — but it hasn’t been exactly easy to lay your hands on one. Even if you manage to deal with the lengthy coronavirus-related wait for the SUV to arrive, there’s still the matter of price; the cheapest one you can buy here in the United States will cost you $50,925 once you factor in the destination charge. For some people who grew up lusting after the simple, elemental Defenders of yore and who don’t want any luxury in their off-roader, that’s an awfully big chunk of change.
Now, however, Land Rover is offering an alternative: a stripped-down, bare-bones version. But there’s a catch we need to caution you about.
First, the good stuff: Land Rover has announced that it’ll shortly be rolling out what it calls the Defender Hard Top models, in both two-door Defender 90 and four-door Defender 110 forms. (The Hard Top name dates back to the early days of the Series 1, when models were first outfitted with said sturdy chapeau for added security.) The second and optional third rows of seats are no more, leaving just the first-row bench to seat up to three people and a big, open box behind them that’s perfect for, say, overlanding conversions.
Both Hard Top versions, of course, will offer incredible off-road capability; the 110 Hard Top with the optional air suspension will have approach, break-over and departure angles of 38ª, 28º and 40º, while all versions will have just shy of 11.5 inches of ground clearance and the ability to plow through water a hair less than a yard deep. The Defender Hard Top models are also optimized for towing, with the ability to yank around 7,700 pounds of trailer behind it; there’s even the Advanced Tow Assist system, which lets drivers back up while trailering using a rotary controller to steer.
And, of course, like all new Defenders, the Hard Tops offer Land Rover’s latest and greatest integrated electronics and computers, including the Pivi Pro touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and over-the-air software updates. A battery of advanced driver assistance systems are also available, as are cameras that let you see 360 degrees around the vehicle.
The best part: being a stripped-down Defender, the Hard Top is cheaper than the versions currently available. When it goes on sale later this year, it’ll start at £35,500 — almost 13 percent less than the current entry-level Defender 90.
Oh, you noticed that £ sign instead of a $? Yeah, that’s the catch. Right now, Land Rover is only talking about offering the Defender Hard Top models in the U.K. Across the Pond, the old version found plenty of use as a commercial vehicle, with businesses of all types using the previous Defender to carry their products and tools across the worst terrain Great Britain could dish out; the new Hard Top is meant to fill that role for a new generation of Landie.
Still, given enough demand, there’s always a chance the brand might make it available in the States, as well; there don’t seem to be any mechanical differences between it and the U.S. version, after all, so it likely wouldn’t be too hard to federalize it for our shores. So start sending those tweets to @LandRoverUSA now.
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