Not that anyone living in this city needs the ability to gallop across the Gobi or trek across the tundra, but intrepid explorers of the urban wilderness will doubtless be delighted to learn that, almost a year after it was first revealed, the new Land Rover Defender has arrived in Hong Kong at last.
And though by all accounts infinitely smoother and more civilised than its predecessor – a car whose essential design dated back to the late 1940s – this reborn Landy is in every way the real and thoroughly up-to-date deal, as it combines unstoppable off-road capability with a hitherto unknown daily-driving liveability.
Unlike the old car, which was built atop a separate chassis and designed initially as a workhorse for farmers and the military, this new Defender was intended from the outset to spend as much – if not most – of its life traversing urban freeways as being up to its axles in muck, mud, sand and snow. Modern in appearance, though bearing a distinct resemblance to its forebears, it combines ultra-strong aluminium architecture with – on the 110 long-wheelbase version (the short-wheelbase 90 is available later) – a rugged intelligent air-suspension system that offers increased ground clearance, the ability to wade through water and Configurable Terrain Response programmes that optimise traction for any conditions.
Vehicles shipped to Hong Kong are powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s mildly hybridised three-litre Ingenium straight-six whose maximum output approaches 400bhp – a marked jump in power over previous Defenders that should translate into sparkling on-road performance. Creature comforts, too, exist in quite another dimension: although the interior contrives to look as if it’s been designed with wipe-clean practicality and the great outdoors in mind, the cabin is built from premium materials, is beautifully put together, as well as being packed with thoughtful storage space and all the latest infotainment systems, including an intuitive touchscreen. Defender 110s can be ordered with 5+2 seating in three rows (the one in the back being for children only), as well as with an additional central folding seat at the front – in other words, plenty of room for large and especially active families.
As for other options, the list is pretty much endless: there are four main accessory packs – Adventure, Country, Explorer and Urban – and you can even order it with a bumper-mounted electric winch for when you, um, well actually we can’t think of a situation when you’d normally need one. And if you like your new Landy so much that you’d rather sleep in it than your own bed, they can also kit it out with a rooftop tent. So that whenever you’re cruising through Central you can pretend you’re really heading out into the Serengeti (and that number 5 bus is actually an elephant).