Mix Land Rover Defenders and roads that aren’t made from concrete, and you get an eclectic road trip that soaks in unorthodox views.
When you think of Singaporeans going to Johor Bahru (JB), one might imagine indulging in the great food offerings there or unwinding with a massage. All whilst thinking about what strategy one might employ in order to fill up your vehicle with the most amount of fuel possible.
Hence, I’m pretty sure trekking through remote forests in the sand and mud isn’t usually on a typical agenda when one thinks of crossing the border. But, that’s exactly what Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) had planned – two days of offroading action in brand-new Land Rover Defenders. And boy was it a riot.
In order to mitigate any potential customs traffic jams, the convoy of Defender 90s and 110s (including the green 75th Anniversary Limited Edition Defender 110) set off bright and early from the Wearnes JLR showroom.
A relatively short customs wait and some smooth tarmac later, we arrived at our breakfast halt – the Rainforest Tree House Cafe. A quaint little cafe with a charming facade, and on-brand with the ensuing off-road action that was soon to unfold.
With full tummies and a thirst for more driving action, the gang set off once more for the Anantara Resort in Desaru. But, instead of plying the smooth expressways like everyone else, JLR instead brought up there using a set of offroad trails.
These dirt roads were relatively trivial for the Defender, cutting through some of Malaysia’s oil palm plantations. The air-sprung independent suspension made quick work of the ground beneath us, and it felt like we were travelling on tarmac!
The Defender really comes into its own here, and the thing that surprises you most is its agility. The precise steering feel and the surprisingly well-controlled body always made you feel like you’re in control, regardless of surface.
Mind you, it does that with only a 2-litre pecker up front, pumping out 292hp and 400Nm of twisting force to all four wheels via an 8-speed transmission.
With some character mud stains pasted onto the Defender, we rejoined civilisation and completed the journey to our overnight halt.
The fun didn’t just stop there. After an enjoyable dinner and a relaxing night, it was back on the roads towards home, albeit with a stop by Tangga 7 for some hill-climbing shenanigans. It rained the night before too, so the grounds were all muddy and slippery, fun!
Unlike the previous day’s plantation roads, the Tangga 7 hill was a bigger challenge for the Defenders, having to face some rather narrow and slippery paths with steep slopes.
Even with road-biased tyres, these Defenders showcased their prowess as they conquered the challenging terrain. The all-wheel-drive system worked its magic, effortlessly distributing power to the appropriate wheels, ensuring a seamless journey without a hint of hesitation.
For the downhill bits, the Hill Descent Control function made it a breeze to maintain a safe and controlled speed while descending. It became abundantly clear that these vehicles can handle whatever challenges come their way, all without requiring an experienced driver. The cars themselves possess an innate intelligence that sets them apart.
With Tangga 7 hill behind us, it was time to return to Singapore. Here, the Defenders showcased their versatility. Unlike traditional off-roaders, the stability of these vehicles proved exemplary even at high speeds. Despite their impressive ground clearance, the Defenders instilled a sense of confidence and assurance as we cruised along the expressways.
Overall, our off-roading adventure was a captivating experience, filled with the thrills of conquering rugged terrain and the tranquillity of a beach-side resort. Such is the premise of the Land Rover Defender too, effortlessly demonstrating their exceptional off-road capabilities while providing a comfortable and enjoyable drive on the road.
A testament to the clever engineering behind these remarkable machines.
As we concluded our journey, the memories of our off-roading escapade remained etched in our minds. Land Rover has crafted a true masterpiece, a vehicle that excels in all environments and brings a sense of adventure to those who dare to explore.
Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)