FUTURE REPORT / Tera-forming the automotive and energy industries
From Schotia we skirted Port Elizabeth on the N2 and made our way towards St Francis Bay to our next destination, Brakkeduine 4x4 Trail close to Oyster Bay, to give the new Defender a proper four-wheel drive workout. Here we were met by Johan Lindstrom, a man with many years of 4x4 experience, and he took us out on the challenging sand dune route.
Even while quite big and heavy the Defender’s combination of advanced Terrain Response system, powerful engine, fast-reacting transmission and favourable overhang angles made short work of the tricky dunes and deep sand. The grip of the specially developed Goodyear tyres was surprising, and even Johan was impressed with the capabilities of the Solihull newcomer.
From there we quickly made our way through Knysna, George and Mossel Bay on the Garden Route and – securely ensconced in the roomy, quiet and dust-free cabin – we rounded off our tour to Cape Town on the dusty dirt roads of the Overberg District.
MOVING UP NORTH
With the demise of Leyland, and BMW taking ownership of the Rover Group, production of Land Rover (now called Defender) moved to a new plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria, which was inaugurated in January 1995. This continued until 2000 when BMW sold the marque to Ford.
Assembly then moved to Silverton and final Defender production included a 5.3 m-long 11-seat variant with three sets of side doors before it was discontinued in 2002, and all models were imported until worldwide production seized in 2016.
So, can the new, completely modernised Defender fill the big tyre tracks of its predecessor? Well, yes and no. While utterly capable off-road, it will probably not satisfy the needs of traditional overlanders and adventurers but it will appeal to those (mainly Discovery owners) wanting something styled more “old-school”. Oh, and its price (starting from R1,050,100 for the 110 derivatives, and our test model with extras selling for R1,425,221) can be prohibitive.