Isn’t it evident that we Indians really love our SUVs? May it be the sub-four meter compact SUVs or even the mid-size SUVs! But honestly, every now and then, we have to be reminded that basically what we all adore isn’t an SUV at all! What they are, in essence, are vehicles on stilts that are just pseudo SUVs. That brings me on to the 2021 Land Rover Defender 90 because, my god, does it completely redefine what an SUV means entirely.

Defender 90 (3)

It isn’t some jacked-up hatchback struggling to garner the attention of the masses but instead the sheer road presence of the Defender 90, although it only being the shorter three-door version can cause neck sprains owing to people eyeballing this. If that wasn’t showy enough, pop the suspension onto its highest setting, and even truck drivers will refrain from looking you eye-to-eye. Nevertheless, let me stop whining about these so-called SUVs and be a professional and do what I am supposed to do, which is review the Defender 90. 

 

Defender 90 Exteriors

Defender 90 (2)

Hmm, now since I must be a professional auto reviewer, I will say the basic, it needs two more doors at the back for the rear seat passengers. But I cannot lie this blatantly because the Defender 90 has so much character and charisma owning to its shorter wheelbase. Compared to its elder sibling, the Defender 110, the exterior design of the Defender 90 is precisely the same, all the way down wheels. Brownie points must be given where it’s due, and that is that the Defender looks like an SUV that gulps compact SUVs for snacks!

 

Defender 90 Interiors

Defender 90 (7)
Image used for illustration purposes

So, you have spent nearly one crore to get your hands on the Defender 90 and were so engrossed by its exterior beauty that you have forgotten about the interiors. But trust me, please ogle away at the exteriors as there is literally no change on the inside from the Defender 110, and You get Land Rover’s Pivi infotainment system with an intuitive interface and its own backup battery for always-on responses. The touchscreen is crisp and intuitive and gives the Defender the modernity it deserves.

Defender 90 Engine

For my test, the Defender 90 was specced with the P300 AWD motor, which is a 2-litre turbocharged powertrain that produces 296bhp and 400Nm. But if you wish not to be kind to the polar bears, you can opt for a V8-powered Defender 90 that produces 493bhp and 625Nm of torque. Now you will not believe me when I say this, but the Defender 90 would be a whole lot more fun with its 3-litre petrol and diesel motors rather than this small 2-litre petrol motor or the gas-guzzling V8. Of course, every model features all-wheel drive and locking differentials for navigating treacherous terrain with LR’s legendary auto terrain response system. 

Defender 90 (5)

 

What is remarkable is that the Defender doesn’t feel like a hardcore off-roader, especially when it’s on the road. There’s none of the vagueness or coarseness associated with its competition, and everything feels tied together. It absorbs hard shocks, the wheels don’t shudder over corrugated surfaces, and you can travel in luxury car comfort. Almost. It’s no great handler or even very engaging

to drive with a slightly disconnected steering feel. A Sport mode has been given a miss, but drive it smoothly, and it’ll cruise just fine on the expressway. Where it simply scores is when the tarmac ends; set the terrain response system to ‘Auto’, and you will appreciate its four-wheel-drive system with a sorted ride quality enhanced by its air suspension.

Defender 90-Off-Road Capabilities

Defender 90 (6)

Just like the Defender 110, this too doesn’t shy away from any obstacle you throw at it and conquers all the rough patches, boulders, rocks and even hills with extreme ease. With a ground clearance of up to 291 mm, wading capability of up to 900 mm and a million optional accessories – like a rugged roof rack, a deployable roof ladder, a snorkel attachment, deployable side steps, a side-mounted gear compartment, a full-size roof tent, etc – all the perfect ingredients to impress the folks eyeballing you while you drive the Defender 90. 

 

Verdict  

This is where things get slightly complicated, as my logical mind would never really recommend this Defender 90 and would instead guide you to maybe the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. But that is not how my brain works, and anyone who has even a slight inclination towards the Defender nameplate will appreciate the Defender 90.

Defender 90 (4)

But that being said, all the variants of the Defender 90 are quite a pricy ordeal, but if you can save nearly 5-6 lakhs compared to the Defender 110. With prices starting from Rs 76.57 lakh and, depending on the spec, going up to Rs 1.1 crore. It still feels like a bargain (not to us ordinary people, of course), but for someone who wants to buy something unique and also boast about the off-road capabilities, the Defender 90 is the perfect weapon of mass destruction. 

Specifications (As tested)

Engine: 2-litre turbocharged petrol
Power: 296bhp @5500rpm
Torque: 400Nm @1500-4500rpm
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic

Price: Rs 80.72 lakh (ex-showroom, India)

For – Butch looks, off-road capabilities
Against – Boot Space, fuel economy

To read our review of Defender 110, click here.