New Defender supports lion conservation in Kenya

A heavily-camouflaged prototype of the new Defender has finished its testing with the Tusk Trust wildlife conservation charity at the 14,000-hectare Borana Conservancy in Kenya.

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The Defender, fitted with an integrated, body-hugging raised air intake, supported operations, while tackling real-world tasks: fording rivers, pulling heavily-loaded trailers and negotiating challenging tracks in the area.

Terrain in the area ranges from flat plains with deeply rutted tracks, steep rocky inclines, muddy river banks and thick forests.

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Nick Collins, Engineering Vehicle Line Director, Jaguar Land Rover, said: ‘We are now in the advanced stages of the new Defender’s testing and development phase.  Working with our partners at Tusk in Kenya enabled us to gather valuable performance data. The Borana reserve features a wide range of challenging environments, making it a perfect place to test to the extreme the all-terrain attributes of the new Defender.’

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Land Rover has been an official partner of Tusk Trust for 15 years and the Defender was put to work at the Borana Conservancy to support its lion conservation program, to highlight the critical situation faced by lions across Africa. Three-quarters of lion populations on the continent are in decline and black and white rhinos now outnumber the big cat in Africa. Fewer than 20,000 lions survive in the wild globally - a figure that has declined from 200,000 over the last century.

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Prepared to be Bowlered over

Grab your chance to compete in a works-supported Bowler Defender 90 racer

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Ever fancied competing in a comp safari or hillrally, but not had the vehicle, or space to keep one? Well, now you can have the chance.

Bower Motorsport will let you drive one of their fully-supported works FIA-spec Defender Challenge Defender 90s at one of the rounds of the Britpart British Cross Country Championship for just £2999.

You’ll get a fully-prepared vehicle, an experienced navigator, training as you go and the full support of the Bowler team. It’s almost a money-can’t-buy experience - but obviously, £2999 will get you in the hot seat!

For more info, head to Bowler Motorsport or call 01773 824111.


New Defender sheds camo for World Land Rover Day

Lightly-camouflaged image shows new Defender lines

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Land Rover has shared an image of a lightly-camouflaged new Defender for World Land Rover Day, 30 April.

With the angular disguise panels removed, the lines are clear to see - including echoes of the barrel sides introduced with the Series II in 1958.

Some design details are still being withheld - the image is heavily edited - but we get the idea of how the basic vehicle will look.

A prototype of the new Defender will experience life at the Borana Conservancy in Kenya as part of Land Rover’s 15-year partnership with Tusk Trust - hence the wrap design - where it will tow heavy loads, wade rivers and haul supplies across unforgiving terrain in real-world testing at the 14,000-hectare reserve.

Prototypes have already completed three-quarters of a million miles of testing around the globe ‘to ensure that it is the toughest and most capable Land Rover ever made’.

The new Defender will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Fun in the sun

LRO editor Neil Watterson competes in Saxon Express 2019

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‘So, will you be writing a report about this event?’ Richard Webster asks, having read the event report I wrote last year. ‘Probably not,’ I reply, ‘I only write event reports if we win!’

We’re at Saxon Express, a 4x4 navigation event run by British Army Motorsports Association (BAMA) at the Bovington driver training area in Dorset. And, as we – that’s my son Sean and I – won last year, we’re car 1, so will have no tracks to follow. We’re also not in our usual steed, the weapon that is the LRO 90; instead we’re using my editorial chariot, a 2012 TDCi Defender 110 Utility Wagon. And, for good measure, the offset on the 18-inch wheels which our Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S tyres are fitted to restrict the steering lock a little. We want to prove we’re good; not that we drive a well-sorted car.

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There’s a healthy turn-out. A couple of years ago numbers on these events had dwindled to fewer than ten, this time there’s 32 entries and Bernie Stevens, BAMA stalwart and Clerk of the Course, tells me he had a call a couple of days back wanting to bring another six crews along. Sadly given the logistics of this sort of event, he had to turn them away – there wasn’t enough time to make the necessary arrangements. But there’s a good mix of civilians and military, with all three services represented. There are even a couple of crews from the Armed Forces Rally Team.

An increase in entry numbers also means three different tiers of competition can be run – the full monty for experts, marginally less tricky for novices and slightly easier again for beginners. That means it should be less daunting if it’s your first event – while the experts get pushed to the limit.

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4x4 navigation events are exactly what the name suggests: navigating in a 4x4. If you can’t read a map or interpret an aerial photograph or understand written instructions, you’ll struggle with the navigation side. And without a 4x4, you’ll get stuck.

The events are split into different phases, each testing the driver or navigator, and we kick off with an orienteering phase. Twenty punches have been marked on our orienteering map. We need to get to as many as possible in the time allowed, and get to the finish before our time is up. We drop one point for every one we miss and a further point for every minute we’re late. So it’s worth cutting and running if you’re running late.

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Oh, and did I mention that there’s a strict speed limit on site and speed guns en-route? And marshals to check that you’re visiting the points in the correct order? We set off and start bagging the punches, but the 110 goes a bit squiffy while crossing a series of potholes at 30mph, so I decide to back off; I can’t risk damaging this one.

We clear the phase 5 minutes within our time allowed and check in. There’s no penalty for arriving early – so it gives us a chance to take stock before the trials sections, which members of the Dorset Land Rover Club have set out.

Trials have been the mainstay of Land Rover competition for years – basically, you drive between canes without ceasing forward motion or hitting the cane. The further you go, the fewer penalties you collect. This is where we may have problems in the 110. But equally, being first car through, we have the best surface to work with; the Bovington site is very sandy and soon gets cut up.

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We clear the first section, but run out of steering lock on the second, picking up five penalties, then clear the third; all within 20 minutes. If you do trial, how many sections do you get through in a day? Eight or ten? We’re getting some serious value for our competition money.

A gymkhana follows – like an autotest, but not against the clock. We ace it, but some crews clip cones when reversing into the ‘garages’, picking up points. The pace on this one can seem a bit pedestrian, but you can always go faster at the risk of making mistakes.

Because the military crews are ‘working’ we have to abide by driver hours, so there’s a mandatory lunch stop, allowing me to get a few photos – sorry they’re a bit repetitive, but I was driving the rest of the time. And anyway, everyone likes water…

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Rest halt over, it’s back to business. We’re handed an aerial photo and have to find code boards dotted around the main training area. It’s been dry for the preceding week and the sand is baked hard. That wouldn’t normally be a problem, but this is the tank training area and, trust me, you know when you’ve got it wrong when you cross a rutted tank rut.

I’ve competed at this site four times, so I know my way around – it’s a bit of an unfair advantage – but it’s only Sean’s second event here. We collect 17 of the 20 boards, and pick up four penalties (we missed one worth two points), arriving back just in time. Then it’s the Gunnery phase.

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Unlike the other phases, all we have to start with for this one is the position of a firing point. We’re given a range and a bearing, then have to navigate to that exact point and punch our scorecard. Then we have to return to the firing point to get the next target.

Easy? Well the first couple of thousand metre ones aren’t too bad, but we can’t find the third, or the fourth. Running close to the clock, we give up and take the penalties – we’ve dropped 24 points. Ouch.

But it’s often the final phase that sorts things out – and we’re faced with a medley of navigation, from written instructions to tulip diagrams, and traces on maps and aerial photos.

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Beginners have had all day to study the route, novices were handed their copies at lunch. Us experts get just 15 minutes to prep before we’re off again.

This is the real fun one. We drive a non-competitive section to the Lulworth training area and wait for our due time to start. The clock counts down and we’re off.

The thing with the medley is that you’re working with different scales of instructions. Some might be 1:5,000, others 1:25,000 – so just as you get used to the approximate distance on one, you change to a new one.

Sean and I have learned that it’s best for him to call out the junctions/what he can see on the maps/photos, while I call out the corners. So he may call ‘right at the junction, follow track’ and I’ll say ‘turned right, following road, road bears to the left’, so he can double-check it.

We have 70 minutes for this phase, but it’s a linear route. We know there are several places we can cut-and-run but this is a blast; it would be a shame not to complete the whole route.

Of course, there’s a balance between going quickly and making mistakes, and all the while we’re looking for 100mm-square yellow codeboards with letters on, noting them on the score card.

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We don’t have any tracks to follow, but Sean is calling the corners spot-on until we reach a piece of tarmac. We splash through a puddle and onto the road, but it’s not right. I back up and spot a track just before the tarmac and retrace our steps to join the track. Ha – our original tracks lead straight onto the tarmac, I wonder how many people will follow them…

Sean spots a codeboard, so we know we’re correct and drive along a poorly-defined track through the gorse; if they do see the entrance, following competitors will just be able to follow our wheel tracks.

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Exiting from woodland we pick up another track, but I spot a codeboard facing the wrong way. They’re all positioned so that you’ll spot them if you’re looking for them and on the correct route. We’re obviously wrong now, so we spin around and follow what we think is the correct route.

We realise we’ve missed a small loop, but not knowing how much time we have, we elect to skip it. But I haven’t been practicing my ground-reading skills and we hit a tank rut. Hard. We stop instantly.

The Defender thinks we’ve crashed and deploys the hazard lights. I cycle the ignition to extinguish them, engage low range, centre diff lock and pull onto a flat area to check the underside for damage. I can’t see any, so we continue.

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There’s a transit section to the southern training area and then we start again through a maze of tracks and multiple fords. Sean calls the junctions, I call the corners. Then it opens out and Sean spots a slight wriggle on the route. You need to watch out for these; they’re not there by accident. We make the appropriate zig-zag and note down another partly-hidden codeboard.

Slicing through the middle of the central training area, we cross into the northern area for the final push. We’ve plenty of time, so can relax now and enjoy the drive, and eventually finish with a full eight minutes to spare.

That was a laugh.

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And it wasn’t just us who enjoyed it. Phil Wallbank is competing in this sort of event for the first time, with his son Jack navigating. ‘Jack had a nightmare this morning and we were almost ready to go home at lunch,’ Phil tells me, ‘but we’ve had a great time this afternoon and he’s been spot-on with his navigation.’

Father and daughter team Kerry and Merren Lewendon have found the same. ‘We struggled this morning, but the final phase was easy.’ They drop just five points on the final phase.

The military crews had a good time too. Marco van Staden says: ‘It was the first time 47 Regiment Royal Artillery have taken part in Saxon Express, and we brought along three crews – we’re looking forward to many more’. One of their crews wins the Best Army trophy.

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Crews gradually return. We hear tales of vehicles having to be rescued from water holes – when they’ve been made by Challenger tanks, you know they have the potential to be deep – and retirements with various ailments. We’ve driven some 50 competitive miles – excellent value for money as the entry fee is just £50 – and after much number-crunching the winners are announced.

Dorset Land Rover Club’s Roger Pardy and Paul Rogers have taken 1st Beginners, while BAMA’s Adam Compton and Chris Thorne took 1st Novice.

And 1st Experts? You must have guessed – you’ve just read the event report I’ve written!

For more BAMA events go to the Army Motorsports website – see you at Autumn Leaves in September!

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Range Rovers to get corrective vision windscreen option

Range Rovers to get corrective vision windscreen option

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Following the introduction of an auto-darkening photochromic windscreen option for the 2020 model year Range Rovers, Jaguar Land Rover has announced that it has successfully developed corrective windscreen glass.

This means that drivers who normally have to wear glasses will be able to order their windscreen to match their prescription – and the company hopes to have adjustable versions by the middle of the next decade.

The technology involved is similar to that used in making heated screens, where a layer of corrective glass is sandwiched between the outer panels, and the overall thickness has been increased by just over 3mm – reducing noise levels in the process.

A JLR spokesperson told LRO: ‘It’s taken a long time to get it to the stage where we can put it into production. The windscreen was actually surprisingly easy – getting the side windows to work was much harder, as you obviously need different versions for left- and right-hand drive variants.

‘But the technology isn’t cheap, so it’ll be a while before we introduce it across the range.’

The corrective windscreens will be available for 2023MY Autobiography versions, with other models a couple of years later.

[Just for completeness, this was an April Fool story – but, given how technology changes, we’ll leave it up: who knows what the future brings…]

Land Rover confirms we'll see new Defender in 2019

New Defender reveal will be 2019, and it will ‘respect’ unmistakable shape

New Defender mule testing in North America

New Defender mule testing in North America

After years of procrastination, Land Rover has confirmed that the new Defender will be unveiled in 2019 and they’ll arrive in dealerships in 2020. That suggests, to us, that the reveal will be late in the year – possibly at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where the DC100 concept was shown in 2011.

The press release is a bit of a teaser and includes the line: ‘With an all-new exterior and interior design respecting Defender’s unmistakable shape…’ We’ve spoken to people close to the vehicle and they have said that they have never known a body-test mule so well camouflaged. So, what we see in the picture isn’t what we’ll get, and it may look closer to an old Defender than we expected. After all, if they could designers could redesign the Evoque and keep its looks, retaining the boxy shape of the Defender should be a doddle.

The above pic shows a mule in testing in North America – the Defender hasn’t been available in the US since the short-lived NAS 90 and 110 models of the 1990s and, we understand, the US market is key for Defender. In fact, we believe the original replacement’s design was shelved as it didn’t look enough like a Defender.

Original NAS Defender 110 in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Original NAS Defender 110 in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Testing in North America will see the Defender mules operating in temperatures from -40°C to +49°C on- and off-road and at altitudes as high as 13,000feet – the height at which aircraft must carry on-board oxygen – so they’ll certainly get a good work-out.

Rawdon Glover, Jaguar Land Rover UK Managing Director said: ‘The Defender nameplate stands for durability and alongside Range Rover delivering ultimate luxury and Discovery offering the best versatility in the market, we will have an SUV for every customer requirement.’

Raised ride-height suggest air-suspension

Raised ride-height suggest air-suspension

Land Rover thefts and how you can protect yours

More Land Rovers seem to be being stolen than ever – protect yours

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Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any abatement in the number of Land Rovers being stolen. Spend any amount of time on social media and within a day you’ll see at least a couple of mentions.

Land Rovers have always been the target of thieves. I even bought a Disklok for my Defender before I had picked up the vehicle. And that was over 15 years ago.

So we know there’s an issue, but why aren’t people doing more about it?

‘The police should do more to catch thieves,’ is often shouted. But, hey, what about preventing the thefts from happening in the first place?

‘If a thief wants it, they’re going to have it,’ is the reason some give for not securing their vehicle. But isn’t that just making life easier for a thief?

The first thing to remember, though, is that if you are a victim of crime, you are just that. A victim. It is not your fault. You didn’t make the thief take the vehicle.

I came across the sorry state pictured above while greenlaning at the weekend – and in the time between me reporting the find to the police and friends of the owner finding it later that evening, the wheels and tyres, and winch bumper had been stolen from the burnt-out shell.

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Land Rover security on older models is pretty poor, and it’s fairly easy to get round. Newer Land Rovers are much better, but they face different problems, with thieves stealing them by hacking the electronics. So, what can you do to protect your Land Rover?

Simple – add layers of security. Don’t expect the factory-fit kit to protect the vehicle; at the very least add one item. And the more you add, the safer it should be. All security products will be vulnerable in one way or another, so the more you add, the harder you’ll make it.

The most obvious item is a strong, visible deterrent. A strong steering wheel lock will make a thief think twice – at the very least, they’ll make some noise removing it. This sort of product is ideal for all Land Rovers, and is a good mechanical barrier to counter thefts using electronic equipment. Other mechanical devices, like pedal and gear lever locks can also add to the layers.

Next, you should consider some sort of immobiliser. This can be a hidden switch on older motors that simply prevents the engine from being started, to a more sophisticated one for newer vehicles. Some insurance policies insist a Thatcham-approved immobiliser is fitted.

Those will slow a thief down, increasing the chance of them being caught, which most don’t like.

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But, if your Land Rover is stolen, you’ve got more of a chance of finding it again if it’s fitted with a tracking device. It’s well-known that many stolen vehicles are ‘parked up’ after being stolen – they can’t risk taking it somewhere and it transmitting its location, leading police straight to them.

Those are the basics and won’t cost more than a decent accessory for your Land Rover. But, what more can you do?

Security mark the vehicle. Land Rovers are easily dismantled and there is a good demand for secondhand parts. If you etch all of the windows and tag other components, they can’t be sold on and they can be traced. Plus, marked items are too hot to have kicking around. Oh, and fit security items to prevent parts from being stolen from the vehicle – there was a spate of Defender doors and bonnets being stolen from parked vehicles, but accessories are also vulnerable.

Talking of secondhand parts – if you buy some, how do you know they aren’t stolen? Only buy from reputable sources. And, if you buy at an autojumble, get a photo of the seller – they won’t mind (and if they do, ask yourself why…)

Getting back to protecting the vehicle, lock the Land Rover away. Unfortunately, most Land Rovers don’t fit in domestic garages, but if yours does, lock it away. If not, and you have a drive, consider installing security posts.

If you park on a road, make sure it is well lit, and don’t make it an obvious target by leaving tempting stuff inside it. In the run-up to Christmas, make sure that any purchases are hidden away.

If your Land Rover or Range Rover has keyless-entry, store the keys as far away from the front door/outside walls as possible. Thieves try to build a ‘wireless bridge’ between the fob and vehicle. If they can’t pick up the fob’s signal, they can’t easily steal your pride and joy. Putting fobs in a Faraday bag or even a metal box will reduce the signal range.

Hopefully, that will all go to help keep your Land Rover safe, but, inevitably, some will still be stolen, no matter how well secured they are.

Julian Shoolheifer’s very original Series II was taken from a locked barn a couple of weeks ago and is still missing – it must be somewhere.

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There are a few groups on social media where reports of stolen vehicles are posted to that are worth keeping an eye on. The biggest is LandyWatch, which has been around for yonks (it was previously a website) and has almost 15,000 followers – so any stolen vehicles posted to it are likely to be seen by a large number of people. Members also post up suspicious vehicles – or ones where the Land Rover just looks out of place, meaning some stolen vehicles have been recovered.

We won’t be able to stop all thefts of Land Rovers, but if we all do our bit, the numbers going will, hopefully, drop.

Leicestershire Thanksgiving greenlaning

LRO editor Neil Watterson heads out with Series 2 Club friends

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Black Friday is one of those events that has people in the UK glued to their computers, seeking out the biggest bargains. We’re bombarded with deals for this, that, and the other – things that will undoubtedly enhance our life – when in reality, the thing that would make most of us happy is a great day out with friends.

That’s about the gist of the East Midlands area of the Series 2 Club’s Thanksgiving greenlane run. Meet up, drive some green roads, have a laugh and enjoy some good food.

I missed last year’s run, which looked a lot of fun, so I shoved this year’s date in my diary as soon as it was announced. And when John Stokes, the organiser, put out a request for group leaders, I volunteered my skills.

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Because it’s strange that although loads of people want to go greenlaning, there are relatively few who want to take on the role of the navigator. Obviously, I’m used to it, when I’m driving the greenlane routes for the mag each month, but others are just happy to let others lead. TBH, I just like having a clear road ahead of me…

Anyway, as the day approaches, the number of people attending fluctuates, with some dropping out at the last minute and others asking to join at 4am, but 22 Land Rovers, ranging from Series I through to Defender – but mostly Series II/IIAs – have arrived at the start in Uppingham. And some are even on time.

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The market square has been closed off to allow us to muster (well, actually, it was closed to allow the Christmas tree and lights to be put up, but we promised to stay out of the workers’ way), and we split the vehicles into four groups, keeping the numbers down to GLASS guidelines, with two groups going in each direction.

I lead my group off first. I’m in my 1969 Series IIA 88-inch and we’ve three more SIIA 88s and a Series III 109 and we head off north to drive the lanes in an anti-clockwise direction.

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The first half, north of the A47, includes some green roads that I’d not driven before, including some gated ‘Field Roads’ as Leicestershire County Council signpost them. Some are simple tracks, others are tarmac roads that have deteriorated to the state where most drivers of hatchbacks would find alternative routes.

Farmyards have become makeshift car parks for shoots, and Tweed-clad beaters chase pheasants out of the sanctuary of the woodland and into the guns’ sights.

Up hill and down valley we bimble, crossing small fords and getting the tyres dirty. It’s not heavy going – we haven’t needed to engage four wheel drive yet – just a nice day in the country.

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We cross to the south of the A47 and are now on some of the lanes we featured in our October 2018 issue. I’ve no idea what sort of pace I should be making – I don’t want to be caught up by the group running 15 minutes behind us – but equally, I don’t want to get to the meet point at the finish ages before the other groups. After all, they’re carrying the food.

So we cross a slightly rutted section and stretch our legs. And 15 minutes later, the group following us, and one heading the opposite direction, arrive. Clearly, we’re running about right on time, and this is halfway.

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Rather than amassing too many vehicles in one point, we head off again. More gravel field roads beckon and more fords. I know these lanes well, so I just elect to stop at the fords to get pictures – it’s a bit dull and grey for big scenery shots.

We loop round and start our run in to the end point, crossing the ford near Thorpe Langton. This is one of the larger fords in the area, but today it’s just right, being just about bumper depth on the Land Rovers.

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Some gravel sections follow and Adam and Chelsea, in their heavy 2.25 diesel-engined Series III 109 are struggling to maintain speed up some of the steeper hills, so we back off a little. Good convoy etiquette is essential on a trip like this. Always keep the vehicle behind in sight and stop or slow if you lose them – if the group gets split, it’s always the car in front’s fault, not the car behind.

We concertina at a junction and tackle the last couple of firm and gravelly green roads before finishing at the Eyebrook reservoir. We’re the first group back, but are soon joined by the others.

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John Stokes has sorted out trays full of turkey sandwiches, Vicky Turner has brought along two massive vats of home-made butternut squash soup, one of which is re-heated on the door-mounted stove on her Land Rover, while Richard and Lesley Oldfield warm the other on their one. Gordon and Wendy Lowe and others have brought along mince pies. It’s a proper feast.

Chatting to people from the other groups, we’ve a right mix of people along, with a contingent from East Yorkshire and others from Lincs, Notts, Cambs, Northants, Leics and, of course Rutland. Vehicles range from ones owned for decades to recently-purchased ones, from tatty to immaculate. Land Rovers really are a vehicle for anyone.

As the light starts to fade, people drift off, the tarmac strips being picked out by the dim glow of Series Land Rover headlights.

It’s been a fantastic day: good driving, great scenery and magnificent food. Now, I wonder if we should do a Boxing Day run…

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Range Rover Evoque 2 gets its global premiere

Second generation will build on original’s success

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What do you mean you can’t see the new model? It’s there. But such is the demand for Land Rover’s baby Range Rover, they decided to keep the styling familiar, while changing almost everything. So, despite looking very similar to the original – and hugely successful – model, the only body parts carried forward from the original Evoque are the door hinges.

The more you look at it, the more you spot. Differently sculpted doors, thinner headlights, larger wheels, tweaked wheelarches, everything has changed subtly. And it’s built onto a new mixed metal platform too, and has a 21mm longer wheelbase – giving rear seat passengers 20mm of extra leg room. It may not sound huge, but an extra three-quarters of an inch could make all the difference.

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If that’s not enough, new rear suspension with lower top damper mounts increases the load space significantly, and better storage has been designed in throughout the vehicle. And Velar-esq touches abound throughout, with the twin-display Touch Pro Duo centre console and retracting door handles. Plus the model gains some of the hi-tech environmentally-friendly fabrics first used on the bigger model, as well as some new fabrics.

And it’s environmental credentials which will elevate Evoque 2 over the first-generation models. A year ago Land Rover announced that all new models would have electric options and apart from the two-wheel drive model, all of the first batch will have either petrol or diesel MHEV mild-hybrid drivetrains. Essentially, energy will be stored in the underfloor batteries when the car comes to a stop, then, when you accelerate you’ll augment the power from the internal combustion engine with electric power, improving performance and reducing emissions. And, as you’d expect, the diesel engines are ultra-low emission EU6.

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What’s more, a three-cylinder plug-in hybrid PHEV will be coming in a year’s time. That will see the front wheels driven by internal combustion and the rears driven by electric – there won’t be the traditional power to all wheels through a transfer box and propshafts.

Even that has changed on Evoque 2. The rear drive automatically decouples on the road when not required, saving fuel, but a twin-clutch rear diff means you get similar performance to that gained with an electronic locking rear diff when you’re off-road, improving off-road ability. Oh, and the wading depth has also increased to 600mm.

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On top of that bi-metallic brake discs shave off 1.2kg per corner – that’s a lot of unsprung weight gone – and combined with the new suspension setup and lower engine mounts on the torque axis of the engine, you’ve a significantly improved drive for both on- and off-road.

As well as answering complaints about loadspace, Land Rover has also dealt with visibility issues. Door mirrors have been re-positioned to improve forwards visibility and a rear camera system, mounted in the shark’s fin antenna, transmits a live 1.7 megapixel feed to the rear-view mirror, so you’ll have a clear view of the road behind you, no matter what you have in the rear. Engineers tell us that the image is far clearer than you’ll get looking through the glass – and is especially good in rain and in the dark.

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More cameras and trick electronics make the ‘transparent bonnet’ previewed on Discovery Vision a reality. The front cameras stich together images using Ground View technology to show what is under the vehicle. Working at up to 18mph it’s not a ‘live’ image, though – just a recording of what the cameras saw before it passed over the section of ground. If you drive forward and stop, and Tiddles runs under the car, you won’t see him…

Unusually for the premiere of a vehicle, we got the chance to test some of the Evoque 2’s new features over Land Rover Experience’s Terrapod, getting to see how the new cameras work – and they are all impressive. We drove through a swimming pool to test the wading depth and a side-slope for the other capabilities. This is still a Range Rover after all.

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The only thing I found that I don’t like, purely for styling, are the new fabric seats. The leather ones are fantastic, as you’d expect, but the two-part eucalyptus or Kvadrat wool-blend ones have a hint of 1980s Sergio Tacchini-style about them. Which is a shame, because, I think that Evoque buyers will want to embrace the environmentally-friendly fabrics and this model could see a significant shift from traditional upmarket leather trim to new fabrics.

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All-in-all, the new Evoque 2 may look similar to the old one, but it is so much better. Land Rover are onto another winner.

The Range Rover Evoque 2 starts at £31,600 and the first ones will be in customer hands in spring 2019. For more details go to the Land Rover website.

Twisted plans for Solihull's last Defenders

Twisted Automotive aims to celebrate Land Rover’s history with its plans for 80 brand-new Defenders.

The Land Rovers – the final vehicles from when the Yorkshire specialist undertook what it describes as ‘the biggest risk of its history’ by investing £7.4 million to reserve 240 of the final Defenders to roll out of Solihull – will be prepared and enhanced in batches.

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Forty-four ‘Remake History’ Defenders will pay homage to Series models and will be released on 29 January 2019, exactly three years after production ceased.

Meanwhile the final 36 will be built under the ‘Make History’ banner, modifying them to a unique spec and offering them only to existing customers.

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Longer term, Twisted will ‘Rework History’, carrying out restoration work and engineering improvements to high-quality pre-owned models.

‘We see our role as defending the Defender,’ says Twisted founder Charles Fawcett. ‘Everything we do is to keep the spirit of Land Rover’s rich heritage alive.’

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