Review: Land Rover Defender Hard Top (2020)


Brilliant to drive on- and off-road, comfortable and high tech cabin, intelligent load area, 'jump seat' option allows the Defender to carry three adults in the front.

Expensive to buy and run, not as practical as the class leading pick-ups, no load-through hatch for the bulkhead.

Recently Added To This Review

9 September 2020 Land Rover Defender Hard Top revealed

The New Land Rover Defender Hard Top brings unstoppable capability, usability and toughness to the commercial 4x4 sector alongside 21st century connectivity and premium comfort. The Hard Top name has... Read more

Land Rover Defender Hard Top (2020): At A Glance

Comfortable, refined and practical, the Land Rover Defender Hard Top is one of the best 4x4 vans. Purists may baulk at the price and chunky styling of the Defender commercial but we rate it as a brilliant all-rounder. If you want a classy 4x4 van then look no further. 

The Land Rover Defender Hard Top is similar to the Toyota Land Cruiser Utility Commercial, with the rear seats removed and replaced with a flat load area. Unlike its rivals, the Defender commercial gets proper loadspace panelling and the option of 'jump seat' that provides space for three adults to sit in the front. 

The commercial version of the Defender is mechanically identical to the standard model, which means it is a brilliant off-roader. All versions are fitted with four-wheel drive, independent front and rear suspension and Land Rover's famous Terrain Response 2 system that automatically directs power to whichever axle or individual wheel that needs it most. 

Unlike the old Defender, the latest model is also brilliant to drive on-road. The ride quality is smooth and potholes are suppressed to a soft thud. Corners can also be taken with confidence, thanks to the perfectly weighted steering. Power is supplied by a range of six-cylinder diesel engines that produce 200PS, 250PS or 300PS - all are linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, as standard, and tow limits peak at a hefty 3.5 tonnes. 

The Defender is available in two sizes: a long '110' wheelbase or a short '90' wheelbase. Payloads for the 110 range from 778-800kg while the 90 will carry up to 670kg. The loadspace has lots of useful storage points and tie hooks, too, which means you can stow tools under the load floor and prevent heavy items from shifting. 

The Defender Hard Top van is the cheapest model in the Defender line-up but it is still an expensive commercial vehicle. Prices start in the region of £36,000 for the 90 and £44,000 for the 110. However, if you want a rugged 4x4 vehicle that will give your business an upmarket and professional image then the Defender is difficult to beat.

The most obvious criticism that can be lobbed at the Defender is the fact that premium pick-ups are cheaper to buy and more practical. However, while the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Volkswagen Amarok are worthy alternatives, with five seats and better loadspace, neither can match the Defender's style or performance.

What does a Land Rover Defender Hard Top (2020) cost?

Land Rover Defender Hard Top (2020): What's It Like Inside?

The Defender Hard Top takes its name from the early Land Rover Hard Tops that were introduced over 70 years ago. The rear seats have been replaced with a flat load space that provides a maximum load length of 1030mm in the 90 and 1472mm in the 110. The Defender will also tow up to 3.5 tonnes when hooked up to a braked trailer. 

Unlike its panel van rivals, the Defender Hard Top doesn't get a load hatch or a removable bulkhead, but you do get a maximum payload of 670kg in the short wheelbase 90 and 778-800kg in the long wheelbase 110 model. The maximum load height is around 940mm while the load width for both models is 1326mm.

The Hard Top’s load area is accessed via the side-hinged rear tailgate. The 110 model retains its rear doors that also allow access at the sides of the vehicle. The 110 Hard Top can accommodate a standard Euro Pallet and lashing points ensure large loads can be safely secured in place.

The floor of the cabin and the load space has a waterproof rubber covering that can be hosed down. There are also underfloor compartments that can be locked independently and LED lighting which makes it easy to find loose items - like tools - when it's dark outside. 

The cabin of the Defender is one of the best of any van on sale today. Refinement is excellent and both road and engine noise is suppressed extremely well. The seats are firm, supportive and comfortable over a long journey.

The spacious interior has lots of head and legroom for the driver and the 10-inch infotainment screen is easy to use and features navigation as standard. You also get a pair of dials for the heating and ventilation controls, while the mesh top of the bulkhead provides rear visibility through the rear window. 

The Defender is a two-seater as standard but we'd recommend spending extra on the optional 'jump seat' which adds a foldable middle seat in the front. This lets you carry two adult passengers, although legroom for the person in the middle is on the tight side due to the shape of the dashboard. The middle seat doubles up as an armrest and cup holder when folded.

What's the Land Rover Defender Hard Top (2020) like to drive?

The Land Rover Defender Hard Top is powered by Land Rover's six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine. Performance is strong across the range. This means even the entry-level D200 produces 500Nm of torque, which means there is a huge level of low-gear pull for towing and off-roading. However, all of that performance comes at a price, with fuel economy ranging from 29-30mpg according to the official figures. 

The Defender 90 is offered with the D200 engine that provides 200PS. The 110, however, is available with the 250PS or 300PS versions of the 3.0-litre turbodiesel - which are badged as D250 and D300 respectively. 

Both the Defender 90 and 110 get independent coil-sprung suspension as standard while the 110 is offered with air suspension as an optional extra. The standard set-up is comfortable over rough roads and the perfectly weighted steering makes the Defender effortless to drive. 

The Defender is heavily geared for off-roading, but loses its rigid axles and separate chassis. The Defender uses a lot of tech from the Discovery and Range Rover, with four-wheel drive and its latest Terrain Response system that lets you set up the car to tackle everything from mud to heavy snow.

The Defender also has a range of useful tech for off-roading, which includes hill descent and a low-range mode for the eight-speed automatic gearbox for tackling tough conditions. What's more, being electric, there are no levers or dials - just a set of easy-to-follow buttons and touchscreen controls. 

All models get 291mm of ground clearance and a wading depth of 900mm. Short front and rear overhangs mean the Defender can tackle steep hills and challenging terrain, while the ClearView Ground View tech allows the driver to use the infotainment screen to see the area usually hidden by the bonnet. The boxy body gives the Defender 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees (off-road height) respectively.