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Land Rover Defender Electric: Current affair

You are 65. You’ve been there, done that. What next? Go electric, maybe?

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It’s night. You are all alone in 1,000 acres of wilderness. The closest lights you can see are the stars above. And in that eerie loneliness, if you hear a moderately-pitched wail approaching you, you might empty a bladder that did not have much to empty in the first place.

Thankfully, it’s not night. And the wail is from the Land Rover Defender Electric concept. Is it coming to India? No. It’s not even coming to the UK. There are about seven of them built by Land Rover to see what more it can do with the Defender.

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Driving it takes some getting used to. I have to turn on the ignition, wait for the needle in the battery gauge to move to full, put it in Drive and slowly let go of the brake. And the scenery around me starts moving. The only sounds I hear are of birds chirping, and the only sensation I feel is that of motion. After just having driven Defenders from all eras, it’s strange to drive one that doesn’t vibrate.

The Electric needs you to plug into an electric 3 kW socket and wait for 10 hours to charge. If you have a fast-charger of 7 kW, make that four hours.

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It can do a minimum of 80km in a single charge. But with regenerative braking, you can survive on a farm, private estate or game reserve for a day or two, depending on how much distance you cover.

Apart from the strangeness of the silence, driving the Electric is effortless. The gear lever has Park, Neutral, Drive and Reverse. Put it in D, let go of the brake and you are off. From one rpm, I have about 330Nm of torque. And as I mash the throttle, that paranormal wail and the crushing of rocks and stones are the only sounds accompanying me.

Handling, ride, comfort are all just as in the standard Defender. But with way less noise and vibration. Besides, it does everything a standard Defender can. And in terms of wading depth, the Electric can do 800mm. That’s about 300mm deeper than the standard diesel, thanks to the electric unit being fully sealed, and there’s really no place for the water to enter and damage anything.

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So what’s in all this for you? For one, apart from the silence and weirdness, this is a great car to have for short distances and for big private property, such as farmland or game reserve. For another, some part from this will likely go into Discoverys, Evoques and Range Rovers in the future. This Electric is definitely not for the long haul. But with regenerative braking, the Defender Electric might just be the best thing to go terrain bashing in; possibly even for a couple of days on one charge.

(Words: Sriram Narayanan, Photos: Peter Robain/Land Rover)

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The numbers
Engine: 70kW electric motor, 300 volt lithium-ion battery
Power: 94bhp
Torque: 330Nm
Weight: 2162kg
0-100kph: 21secs (claimed)
Top speed: 110kph (limited) (claimed)
Price: Not for sale

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