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2021 Land Rover Defender bolstered with new diesels, safety tech

John Law

Along with the confirmed arrival of the short wheelbase Defender 90 for early 2021, Land Rover has announced some fundamental changes to the Defender range ahead of the next model year.

It may sound silly given that the 2020 Defender only just went on sale in Australia, but remember that the four-cylinder diesel engines were delayed due to the global pandemic.

There is a bright-side though because Land Rover is replacing the four-cylinder diesel engines with less-stressed diesel sixes across the Defender range.

2021 Defender 90 engine light
In-line sixes only under this bonnet.

We like the sound of that, but Land Rover has also bolstered standard safety specification across the range. Naturally, the price of entry has climbed, though not dramatically. The P400 powered variants have dropped in price for 2021.

Standard active safety equipment for the 2020 Defenders included AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist and the convenience of a 360-degree camera. For 2021 even the base model Defender gleans adaptive cruise, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring as standard.

While the Defender is a workhorse capable of competing with the likes of the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior and Jeep Wrangler off-road, the newest Land Rover can be specified right up to the point of comfortable every-day use case.

2021 Defender 90 engine splash
You can spec your defender to be at home here…

For 2021 that’s improved further with the aforementioned new engine choices. Initially, the Defender was going to arrive in Australia powered by two four-cylinder diesel engines, the D200 and D240.

These were virtually the same two-litre turbo-diesel engines in different states of tune. The D200 made 147kW and 430Nm, the 240 a little more potent at 177kW but the same torque number. Land Rover delayed these engines last month citing issues with production.

But today the brand has confirmed they are to be replaced by a lustier three-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel engine. The engine is available in three states of tune and packs MHEV tech which helps drop fuel consumption figures to as low as 8.8L/100km in the mid-spec D250.

2021 Defender 90 engine chiaroscuro
Or here

The D200 replaces its former namesake; the same power is on offer but meaningfully more torque, 500Nm in fact, is spread across a broader range. Naturally, the larger capacity and cylinder count gives this engine a higher ceiling, the D250 replaces the D240 and makes 183kW and 570Nm.

Topping out the updated diesel range, the D300 makes juicy outputs of 220kW and 650Nm and should propel the Defender to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds, that’s hot-hatch fast.

This extra oomph is backed up by a more intelligent all-wheel-drive system which can better vary torque across individual wheels and axles of the new Defender. It sounds like wins all-around to us.

2021 Defender 90 engine Hero
Though the lustier diesels should help it’s off-road performance.

That is except for the price-of-entry. The 2020 car started at $69,626, while the most affordable Defender 110 now powered by the P300 powertrain starting at $74,500. For 2021 the D200 has been dropped from the 110 lineup, so to get into a diesel you’re looking at the $82,590 D250.

The D200 is only available on the short-wheelbase Defender 90, that car starts at $78,590. Naturally, the two petrol options – the P300 four-cylinder and P400 in-line six – are still available making 221kW and 294kW respectively.

While the price has climbed, when the extra power and safety tech is considered the jump isn’t too steep. In fact, the 110 SE D300 offers nearly 230Nm more than the D240 it replaces for only $1,454. The asking price is also down by 3 per cent or more for P400 powered Defenders.

2021 Defender 90 engine over there
The 90 is a particularly good looker.

The 2021 Defender range will be arriving in Australia from February next year.