Land Rover really does means business with rugged new commercial vehicle versions of its latest 21st century Defender model.
The upmarket alternative to ‘white van man’ is set to prove a hit with small businesses who want to add a bit of extra 4X4 style and capability to their firms as they accelerate out of the coronavirus lockdown.
Priced for around £35,000 plus VAT (so £42,000 for UK companies), they will trade under the restored ‘Hard Top’ name when order books open later this year for what Land Rover claims will be ‘the ultimate commercial 4X4’.
Defenders for businesses: Land Rover has confirmed it will sell a ‘Hard Top’ van version of the new 4X4
One early example – shown during the launch of the new Defender SUV range at last year’s Frankfurt motor Show in September – proved an unexpected hit.
Now Land Rover is showing just what more can be achieved with the Defender 90 and 110 Hard Top range.
Land Rover said: ‘Practical commercial versions of New Defender 90 and 110 will restore the Hard Top name to the iconic 4×4 family.’
It said they ‘will bring unrivalled breadth of on and off-road capability to the commercial vehicle sector’ by providing a combination of cargo space, practicality and comfort.
That includes a central front-row jump seat option to provide space for three.
Owners can also keep their vehicle’s key software current with clever ‘over-the-air’ updates without the need to visit a retailer
Vehicles can also tow up to 3.5 tonne with the option of hi-tech Advanced Tow Assist technology to help more easily pull and manoeuvre trailers.
Priced for around £35,000 plus VAT (so £42,000 for UK companies), they will trade under the restored ‘Hard Top’ name when order books open later this year for what Land Rover claims will be ‘the ultimate commercial 4X4’
The Defender Hard Top is designed to bring unrivalled breadth of on and off-road capability to the commercial vehicle sector by providing a combination of cargo space, practicality and comfort
The cost will be more than £10,000 pricier than a traditional Ford Transit van
Land Rover said the Hard Tops, aimed at small, sole-trader and medium sized businesses – as well as fleets for larger firms – combines ‘unstoppable all-terrain capability with 21st-century connectivity to give professionals a unique combination of cargo space, practicality and premium comfort.’
While this might be the case, the £35,000-plus-VAT asking price is much steeper than more conventional commercial vehicles.
For instance, a Ford Transit Courier models starts from £13,045 excluding VAT, while the larger Transit Custom is £23,040 without VAT.
The Hard Top name dates back to 1950, when the introduction of removable Hard Tops gave early Series Land Rovers added security and protection from the elements.
The firm said: ‘ New Defender Hard Top continues this ethos, sharing its fixed metal roof and silhouette with the iconic original. ‘
They will be ‘the next additions to the legendary bloodline’.
Both Hard Top variants will feature independent coil-sprung suspension, with advanced electronic air suspension also available on the 110
The Defender 90 Hard Top concept show at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2019 when the SUV was first showcased
The cabin has no second or third-row seats. But the optional front-row jump-seat means it will still accommodate up to three people
The Defender Hard Top line is being developed by Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations to deliver ‘unrivalled durability, practicality and toughness’.
Both Hard Top variants will feature independent coil-sprung suspension, with advanced electronic air suspension also available on the 110.
And both will have ground clearance of 291mm, while the larger 110 Hard Top will have approach, ‘breakover’ and departure angles of up to 38, 28 and 40 degrees respectively when in ‘Off-Road’ height.
They have a maximum wading depth of 900mm and technology to help make fording water easier.
The cabin has no second or third-row seats. But the optional front-row jump-seat means it will still accommodate up to three people.
Land Rover’s digital ‘ClearSight’ rear view mirror system (which uses a live feed from a rear-facing camera rather than mirrors) preserves unobstructed rearward visibility when the jump seat is occupied, or when the load space is full.
The intelligent ‘advanced tow assist’ system lets drivers steer their trailers into positon with just their fingertips using a rotary controller on the centre console.
The ‘Pivi Pro’ touchscreen infotainment system allows seamless smartphone integration using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
A Ford Transit Courier (left) models starts from £13,045 excluding VAT, while the larger Transit Custom (right) is £23,040 without VAT
To help drivers manoeuvre safely in tight spaces or to position the vehicle close to items ready for loading, the vehicle’s advanced driver assistance systems include a 3D surround camera system giving all-round view of the vehicle on the central touchscreen.
A remote smartphone app allow businesses to keep track of the location, fuel level and journey history of their vehicle from afar.
Land Rover Vehicle Line Director Nick Collins said: ‘New Defender 90 and 110 Hard Top will be the toughest, most capable and most connected commercial 4x4s we have ever produced.
‘They have been engineered to meet global safety standards and deliver impressive long-haul comfort, giving businesses and professionals the best of all worlds.’
The firm’s Special Vehicle Operations managing director Michael van der Sande said: ‘We will maximise the functionality and usability of New Defender’s cargo area, with tough materials and clever storage solutions to ensure it surpasses the capability of any previous Defender Hard Top.’
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