Great Britain

Land Rover’s new Defender hard-top is cheaper, tougher and even better than posher siblings

LAND ROVER is going backwards – but in a good way.

Last year it gave us the posh and expensive five-door Defender 110.

Never going to get its loafers dirty in Chelsea, is it?

Then came the cheaper three-door 90, which I prefer.

And now we have the even cheaper and even better Defender Hard Top — that’s van, to you and me — for people who actually work with their hands.

There is talk of a Defender pick-up further down the line, or at least one with canvas roll-up sides.

Hallelujah.

That’d be a proper go-anywhere, do-anything workhorse, which is exactly what a Defender was designed to be in the first place.

For now, though, we have Hard Top and I’m rather smitten with it.

Especially in this hero blue and white paint job with white steel wheels. Stick your name on the sides and it’s a business card as much as a van.

Basically, Hard Top is a regular 90 or 110, minus the rear seats.

Same minerals off-road, same relaxed ride on-road, just with a bulkhead to stop whatever’s in the back from shifting forwards and knocking you out.

Plus, it has lashing points and hooks and a sweep-out rubber floor.

All good to go, then, but what size do you want?

COMFORT AND COMPOSURE

Now for the killer question: How much? Prices start at £35k plus Vodka And Tonic, which is reasonable when you consider a top-spec Ford Ranger is similar money.

And this is a Defender, remember. Solid as a rock, super trendy and bristling with more tech than a Mars Rover.

Press the right button and the terrain response system will drag you through ditches and ravines and goodness knows what.

Just as impressive is the way this vehicle addresses a normal road.

I’m serious. It has the speed, comfort and composure of a Range Rover, and you’ll want for nothing in terms of kit.

That slick 10in touch-screen talks to your phone and other standard equipment includes heated seats, parking cameras and all sorts of anti-crash tech.

You do have to pay extra for the third middle seat, mind, and that digital review-view mirror thingy. But spoil yourself. You work hard. You deserve it.

As for engines, Hard Top 90 is powered by a 3-litre six-cylinder diesel that punches out 200hp and 500Nm. There’s no other choice for now but I’d argue that’s all you need. It’s strong, smooth and clean and does good numbers.

The Hard Top 110 has three engine options, all with more grunt.

If I had a proper job making things or fixing things, or spent the weekends exploring the green bits of Britain, I’d have a Hard Top. No contest.

I’ll finish with a little thank you to farmer Giles (yes, really) who kindly supplied the talent for these photos. And a little apology to Land Rover.

I’m sure the seats will wash out.

KEY FACTS: LAND ROVER DEFENDER HARD TOP

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