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Driven: New Defender - On & Off Road. Is it a Pretender?


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Thank you so much for taking the time to share that 😊

I think you’ve found just what was expected really. A road biased vehicle with some computer cleverness to help off road.

Interesting point on the compression travel on the suspension .... I wonder if that’s an unavoidable factor of the suspension design or a choice for some other trade off ? 

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Nice to get some user comments about the terrain response system.  It is baffling how the design requires the driver to reach so far, concentrate so hard on something a long way from the view ahead and requires the use of a touch screen.  Even then, it seems awkward, from your comments.    It all means you have to stop every time you need to fiddle, I suppose, whereas old school systems would let you flick lockers in and out without even looking, for example.

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Sums it up well really. A large estate car that can go off road. It is NOT a utility vehicle at all, but I guess thats the market they are aiming for, leaving the utility market to thems that make vans.

I agree about the styling, such a shame they couldnt have given a nod to its heritage (which has been abandoned) and done something similar to the early Mini one and the Fiat 500.

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I was going to have a closer look at one  just out of interest  at the main dealer near me, but don't think I'll bother now, it's certainly not as adaptable as the previous model, more of a everyday estate car, JLR have missed the point of heritage entirely, but then the Discovery 5 & latest RR haven't got much in common with the earlier versions. 

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29 minutes ago, smallfry said:

Sums it up well really. A large estate car that can go off road. It is NOT a utility vehicle at all, but I guess thats the market they are aiming for, leaving the utility market to thems that make vans.

I agree about the styling, such a shame they couldnt have given a nod to its heritage (which has been abandoned) and done something similar to the early Mini one and the Fiat 500.

It was not an impossible design challenge to do that , but there was (seemingly - freelander re-badging etc.) a choice made regarding brand commonality , so now when a new Defender comes the other way or down the road towards you it is not clear if it's a D3 , D4 or a freelander based even bigger fake ...........

 

I have great hopes for the Ineos , the man in charge has a real passion ( read Bee in his face ) about JLR's utter destruction of the LR part of their heritage .... 

I still think this could be the end of the LR brand in the world market , it will become something of a niche until turnover vs. profit kills it . 

.... a somewhat saddened old git commenting on something I will never have on the driveway , ever , at all 😊

Steve

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@Chicken Drumstick fantastic review, thanks for posting. It's so rare to read an honest review about what a car is actually like to live with rather than journos waxing lyrical about how easy a car is to powerslide. 

The review itself sums up the problem i think a lot of us have with the new Defender - it looks nice enough, drives well and has plenty of places to plug your phone into but, fundamentally, it doesn't belong in the Defender family.

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Interesting review. I still want to try one for myself. Was this just a regular test drive from the dealer? Did they tell you to not go off-road at all?

13 hours ago, Chicken Drumstick said:

It is almost as if Land Rover don’t really want you using these controls regularly and have made them difficult to get too and use.

One gripe with this though. 99.9% of the time you're not using it. Being able to repurpose another control for a function like that I find quite nice. And it's still a physical control, you don't need to hunt around on a touchscreen while off-road for it.
It's always bothered me slightly that the H-shifter on the P38 takes up so much real estate for what was solved with a small button on the manual versions.

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That’s the best and most comprehensive review I’ve seen anywhere yet. 

Have you any observations  about the speed of the cross linking of the air suspension at all? I’ve noticed that there seems to be more articulation when the vehicle is stationary than when it’s moving. I’ve attributed this to the tiny size of the pipes and valves involved and that the suspension can’t react quickly enough during articulation to reduce the roll stiffness.

 

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I was wondering why on earth they needed to add a front downward facing camera, but sounds like the lack of wheel visibility, driver feedback and a tendency to turn into a three wheeler forced the requirement. Design flaw from the outset. 

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If it needed a tow from the front, the towing eye in the middle of the front subframe seems covered by the lower portion of the bumper, do you know how to access it? I asked this previously and nobody had any idea. Even small hatchbacks are designed with easily accessible recovery points, it beggars belief that the defender wasn’t.

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The dealership local to me won’t allow test drives off the roads near to the dealership, so no high speed A-roads, let alone highway, and no desert or dunes, even accompanied.  They clearly don’t trust it.  I might have a go anyway, just to nix the fanboys when they ask if I have tried it, but I really don’t like anything I have seen about it other than the internal power sockets.  Even the interior decor is trying too hard to prove its ruggedness with all those exposed screws; to me it just screams “fake”.  I’m sure the trend followers will love it, like the journalists, but they’re pretenders too.

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3 minutes ago, Bowie69 said:

If I were a betting man, I would put £20 on it that they don't secure anything to anything.

There are rather a lot for just securing a door trim card!

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23 hours ago, Anderzander said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to share that 😊

I think you’ve found just what was expected really. A road biased vehicle with some computer cleverness to help off road.

Interesting point on the compression travel on the suspension .... I wonder if that’s an unavoidable factor of the suspension design or a choice for some other trade off ? 

I think that's a product of the air suspention jacking it up. I'd be interested to see it without the airsuspension in off road mode of any sort. I'd also like to see it on a coiled version too, I reckon it will do better.

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11 hours ago, landroversforever said:

I think that's a product of the air suspention jacking it up. I'd be interested to see it without the airsuspension in off road mode of any sort. I'd also like to see it on a coiled version too, I reckon it will do better.

It’d be interesting to see the comparison, for sure.  I don’t think it’s the air suspension - I think Stephen is right in the speculation that it’s the independent suspension that hobbles it, as the same happens to other independent suspension vehicles with coils.  But if the coiler does transpire to have more articulation, then it raises the question of why nobody is making a height adjustable coil sprung system using  moveable spring seats with some sort of relatively simple actuator to give two or three ride height settings.

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Air suspension is, in theory, progressive.  Move it twice as far and it becomes four times as stiff (though any give in the rubber bag takes up some of that).  That progression is good on the road - compliant on small bumps but self-stiffening as bumps increase in size.  This is a logarithmic thing because you can always move the spring that little bit more as you apply ever more pressure, until the gas compresses into a non-compressible liquid (though increasing pressure and temperature would create a bomb a long time before that happened!).  This rapidly increasing difference in spring rate, left to right, is why it is hard for a  cross-linked air system to replicate a live axle and why the "uphill" wheel is so limited in travel compared to the downhill one, which is under less pressure.

Suspension manufacturers have had many solutions over the years to make the spring rate progressive on leaf coil systems.  Progressively wound coils, that stiffen as the coils start to close up and effectively shorten the spring are common.  Supplementary springs that come into play once there has been compression of the main spring are another.  Motorcycle manufacturers go to the trouble of creating variable geometry suspension to achieve the same effect, in a controlled fashion.  Mostly this is for on-road performance but the last example is very useful on a single wheel axle travelling at speed off-road.  However, off-road with a two wheel axle, progressive suspension is far less desirable because it means the vehicle behaves increasingly differently on each side as the axle twists.  That is why a coil-sprung Defender, with long-travel, linear-rate coil springs, is so smooth following axle twisters while an air sprung vehicle (even one with decent overall wheel travel) looks so bouncy.

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20 minutes ago, deep said:

Air suspension is, in theory, progressive.  Move it twice as far and it becomes four times as stiff (though any give in the rubber bag takes up some of that).  That progression is good on the road - compliant on small bumps but self-stiffening as bumps increase in size.

Your simple analogy misses the important details of how the air springs are designed.  The bags that are used in these applications fold over a piston.  The reduction in volume is very specifically controlled so that the change in spring rate is managed and do not become logarithmic. Within the acceptable travel range of the springs, the change in spring rate is fairly small.

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13 minutes ago, Red90 said:

Your simple analogy misses the important details of how the air springs are designed.  The bags that are used in these applications fold over a piston.  The reduction in volume is very specifically controlled so that the change in spring rate is managed and do not become logarithmic. Within the acceptable travel range of the springs, the change in spring rate is fairly small.

In theory!  Watch them in videos and it's clear they haven't overcome basic physics just yet.  (And yes, obviously, the change in rate over a small range is small.)

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On 8/17/2020 at 12:45 PM, Jamie_grieve said:

That’s the best and most comprehensive review I’ve seen anywhere yet. 

Have you any observations  about the speed of the cross linking of the air suspension at all? I’ve noticed that there seems to be more articulation when the vehicle is stationary than when it’s moving. I’ve attributed this to the tiny size of the pipes and valves involved and that the suspension can’t react quickly enough during articulation to reduce the roll stiffness.

 

That is a super good question. Afraid I don't have the answers. I have just added a video review in post 2 above. During the off road test you can see, that while the suspension does move, it never replicates the amount of flex that it attained on the ramps. So maybe you are correct in your assumption.

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On 8/19/2020 at 12:46 AM, Red90 said:

Your simple analogy misses the important details of how the air springs are designed.  The bags that are used in these applications fold over a piston.  The reduction in volume is very specifically controlled so that the change in spring rate is managed and do not become logarithmic. Within the acceptable travel range of the springs, the change in spring rate is fairly small.

Absolutely.  The tuning of how progressive air springs are with ride height is done by shaping the trumpet form of the piston.  Make a classic trumpet shape and you’ll have a relatively consistent spring rate.  Make a pronounced trumpet and it’ll be firmer when sitting low, make an inverted trumpet (like an hour glass shape) trumpet and the spring will be firmer at greater extension.

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