Stylish and rugged off road

To explore hard to reach places, one needs a reliable off-roader or a 4×4 to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. One that can easily take on any type of terrain without getting stuck.

The Land Rover Defender 110 is all about luxury, style and finesse, says Tony Bassingthwaighte.

It’s all about reaching your destination in style and luxury, without the stress.

Bassingthwaighte recently arrived back from a tour and says the idea emerged soon after the first new Defenders arrived in Namibia, just before the Covid pandemic brought with it lockdowns and a standstill of tourism.

“But now everything is back to normal and we are quite busy, and togs tours are very popular,” he says of the Defender tours that have become a niche market in the tourism industry.

Using the ultra luxury Defender 110s are not only for owners of Land Rovers, Bassingthwaighte says.

“The Land Rover Experience is not for Land Rover customers, it is not for a potential owners, it is for anybody that wants to explore and go on a luxury tour through Namibia,” he says.

And indeed the new Defenders are worlds apart from the previous generation box-shaped Land Rovers that lacked many safety and comfort features.

Bassingthwaighte says the self-drive guided tour allows participants to experience the car on different terrains, which is what the car was built for. It usually stretches over six days, with most of this time spent off-road on gravel.

This gives clients the opportunity to experience the capabilities of the vehicle on various terrains, which was clear from the mud and dust covering one of the 110s that just returned from tour.

The tour follows a strict programme from sunrise to sunset, consisting of deep track, sand dune, river and gravel road driving.

One would expect that drivers embarking on such a journey may need specialised 4×4 driving skills and training, but Bassingthwaighte says guidance and assistance are provided for inexperienced off-roaders using two-way radios fitted in all cars.

However, he says some general knowledge of gravel travel is certainly an advantage.

Since the experience takes you away from any luxuries like shops and restaurants, the vehicles are equipped with camping gear, camping fridges, off-road tires and roof racks to ensure self-sufficiency. This type of off-grid experience is what most adventurers live for.

What makes the 110 unique for such tours is the technology that comes standard with the cars.

Previously, Bassingthwaighte says, they used the 2 litre 4-cylinder engines but this time around it was 3.0 litre 6-cylinder engines.

Bassingthwaighte, known as ‘Mr Land Rover’ in Namibia, says after driving many different Land Rovers over the years, this one is in a league of its own in terms of responsiveness, regardless of the terrain.

The vehicle comes standard with air suspension, offering a smooth driving experience across various terrains, while the car warns the driver when it plans to lower the suspension to adapt to the terrain and speed.

Bassingthwaighte advises keeping to 80 kph on a gravel road for safe and manageable travel, but speeds of up to 100kph can be done if the road condition and surface allow it. At this speed the vehicle can safely handle the dips and corners.

The car is powered by a 3.0L 6-cylinder engine delivering a comfortable 221 kW with 650Nm, making the car suitable for the purpose it was built for.

For such a big vehicle, the fuel consumption is impressive, calculated at just under 9km/100km, giving it a range of just over a 1 100km on its 89L tank.

The car comes with all the technology, safety features and comfort expected from such a premium brand, but it was the under body camera that pulled it through for Top Revs during a recent test drive, enabling the driver to see the exact wheel placement, while crossing rugged areas. This not only assists the driver in terms of safe crossing or obstacle clearance, it also helps avoid damage to the suspension or under body.

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