Land Rover launches Defender in Toyota Hilux country - brave or foolish?

Hans · Apr 02, 2020 04:29 PM

Shortly before the world shut itself down and braced for Covid-19, Land Rover hosted an international media drive for its all-new Land Rover Defender in Namibia.

The all-new Defender is nothing like its predecessor, and in a good way, no matter what die-hard fans of the old Defender will say. We have to move on and embrace progress.

The most obvious difference with the all-new Defender is the switch from ladder frame chassis to unibody construction, aluminium of course. In fact, within the Defender’s D7x platform are traces of the bigger Discovery’s and Range Rover’s D7u platform.

But back to Namibia. AutoCar UK’s Matt Prior opened his review of the Defender by saying “I don’t know if it’s bold or reckless to launch a Land Rover in Namibia.”

In 2016, Toyota too drove a convoy of Hiluxes across Namibia, no modifications needed.

“Namibia is second only to Mongolia when it comes to wilds – the Hilux is king. Namibia is a country where four in 10 brand-new cars are Toyotas, where it used to be a much higher percentage than that, and where the Hilux’s capability and longevity mean that, in the places you’d really want to test a Defender, the cars that aren’t Hiluxes are other beaten-up Japanese pick-ups.”

We have to correct him though. Toyota’s market share in Namibia is 25 percent, not 40 percent. Still high enough, and there’s no doubt that the Hilux rules the rough terrain of Namibia.

Of course, both the Defender and Hilux are two very different type of vehicles but they are both 4x4s nonetheless.

Realistically, buyers of the all-new Defender are not going to subject their cars to the kind of abuses the Defender is designed for.

The new generation Defender is a bit like a Mercees-Benz G-Class, its off-road capability is still at the core of its character, but its image has transcended beyond that.

The all-new Land Rover Defender is now a fashionable icon that wealthy male posers want to be seen in. Like the new G-Class, the all-new Defender appeals to the sort of people who wants to portray a rugged look but is actually someone who wouldn’t know what to do without toilet paper, never rmind without access to a toilet, in a jungle.

The role of the original Land Rover Defender, has now been taken over by the Toyota Hilux. To be clear, the Toyota Hilux is not the best off-road vehicle out there, but neither was the original Defender.

What these two cars did however, was defining the segment and the associated lifestyle.

“There are a few old series Land Rovers going on adventures, but the working or adventuring truck market is one, you have to conclude, the Defender left some time ago,” added Matt.

Late model Puma engine Defenders are now a collector's item

Still, nobody is going to cherish a Toyota Hilux like they would with the previous generation Land Rover Defender, with its slightly anglophile image, when all was great when great British empire ruled the seas. So points to the Land Rover Defender for collector’s appeal.

Whatever your opinion is on the all-new Land Rover Defender, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the most capable vehicles in the world, but so is the Toyota Hilux, and Mitsubishi Triton, and the Ford Ranger, and the Isuzu D-Max.