Adventurer and explorer Kingsley Holgate. Image: Supplied
Adventurer and explorer Kingsley Holgate. Image: Supplied
Both synonymous with exploration and daring adventure, it was a meeting of the minds and the mettle this week when Land Rover revealed its new Defender to the renowned Kingsley Holgate Foundation.
The occasion was much-anticipated national launch of the all-new Defender 110 on Thursday 16 July.
Digitally streamed on Land Rover South Africa’s YouTube channel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the appropriately timed 110-minute event was equally appropriately headlined by South Africa’s most recognisable humanitarian adventurers – Kingsley and Ross Holgate.
The father-and-son pair were joined by the likes of event host and sports presenter Xola Ntshinga with special guest appearances from former Springbok Bryan Habana – one of the new Defender’s biggest fans.
For the Holgates — who have used various Land Rovers since the early 1990’s — its was a more of a reunion with the brand, with their two Expedition Discoverys having now been retired after covering a combined 200 000km of life-saving journeys
Emanating from the event was that two new Defenders have now been prepared for grueling expeditions with the assistance of a host of Land Rover-approved accessories.
And, revealed Jaguar Land Rover South Africa, plans for a “world-first journey using the most capable Land Rovers ever made” will be announced to the public soon.
In its comments around the event, and more specifically the relationship between the brand and the foundation, Land Rover said the Holgates had retired the “world’s most traveled Land Rover Discoverys and moved into two new Defenders”.
“Since the early 1990s, the father-and-son duo have used various Land Rover vehicles, including 15 previous generation Defenders, to deliver aid to those in need in every country on the African continent and beyond.
“Land Rover’s off-road expertise has helped the Holgate Foundation conquer Africa’s most grueling geographies in efforts to improve lives in some extremely hard to reach places, and now a new chapter begins with the most capable and durable Land Rovers ever made,” said Land Rover.
The two new expedition vehicles are based on Defender P400 S models, which use 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines and efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) technology to provide maximum outputs of 294kW and 550Nm.
A Belt-Integrated Starter Generator (BiSG) harvests energy while driving and sends it to a 48V battery, which can be redeployed as torque (up to 142.5Nm) under the load of acceleration.
The system also makes use of a 7kW electric supercharger – also powered by the 48V battery storage – to increase air pressure within the turbocharger in order to reduce turbo lag at engine speeds up to 2 000rpm.
Land Rover said the P400’s MHEV system helps to achieve an average fuel consumption as low as 9.9l/100km, which will be especially valuable as the Holgates who often need to cover extremely long distances between refuelling stops while on expeditions.
“As a rule of thumb, Kingsley and Ross like to have enough fuel within their convoys to cover at least 1 000km between stops. The efficiency offered by the Defender P400 will help to reduce the amount of externally stored petrol on journeys,” revealed the automaker.
And to help the pair go that extra mile in safety and a little more convenience and comfort, Land Rover South Africa’s technical team have created the two most capable expeditions vehicles ever available to the Holgate Foundation by adding on a number of Land Rover-approved accessories, all of which are available to domestic customers.
“The team started with the fitment of Explorer Packs – one of four accessory packs available for customisation – which transforms the Defender into an even more capable overland vehicle suited to crossing Africa’s harshest landscapes.
“The Explorer Pack includes wheel arch protection, a raised air-intake, front and rear mud flaps, a spare wheel cover, expedition roof rack, matte black bonnet decal, and a waterproof and lockable side-mounted gear carrier,” said Land Rover.
In his comments, the expedition leader, Ross Holgate said: “The development phase of our new expedition vehicles was very exciting. We were like kids in a candy store, and it’s been fun being able to choose from a catalogue of vital parts offered directly from Land Rover.
“A sturdy roof rack is extremely valuable when it comes to hauling the extra gear we need for safe travel in some seriously inhospitable places. Spare wheels, fuel, food, sand ladders and even some of our humanitarian aid such as mosquito nets, water-purifying LifeStraws and much-needed spectacles can all go up top,” he said.
“A raised intake is ideal in dusty locations to ensure the engine breathes clean air, and even the black bonnet decal will be useful for reducing glare under the glaring African sun.
“We’re still deciding what we’ll keep in the side gear carrier, but I’m sure we’ll find a handy use for it. Extra storage space is always welcome on expedition,” enthused the younger Holgate.
In addition to the Explorer Packs, a number of other accessories have been added.
These include deployable roof ladders that will make accessing items stowed on the roof easier, 5mm-thick undershield protection for added engine safety when crossing rocky terrain.
Integrated air compressors which can inflate and deflate tyres, air mattresses and other items to pre-set defined pressures, is another vital piece of equipment that will help ensure a successful expedition.
Manufactured by Warn but available as an approved Land Rover accessory, a powerful winch is crucial in the environments the Holgates will cover on expedition.
Boasting a maximum pull force of 4 536kg, the winch comes with wireless remote control and is supplied with 24m of 3/8” Spydura synthetic rope.
While normally reserved for fitment on the range-topping Defender X model only, Land Rover South Africa made a set of heavy-duty rear-mounted recovery hooks available as a special custom addition to the Holgates’ two Defenders.
“On expeditions, the Holgates often find themselves lending helping hands to various NGO partners and local travellers who get stuck in tricky conditions, so having access to these strong pulling points at the rears of the vehicles will be helpful to extract other vehicles,” said Land Rover.
Expressing the extent of his relationship with the legendary off-roader, Kingsley Holgate pointed to a love affair of nearly half a century in the making
“Land Rover has been part of our family for nearly 50 years, and the Defender name in particular is dear to us. We’ve used previous Defenders to improve and save the lives of millions in parts of Africa which are extremely hard to reach.
“With Defenders we have traced the outline of Africa on our Outside Edge Expedition, discovered the continent’s geographical centre point during Heart of Africa, and even circumnavigated the globe along the Tropic of Capricorn for 18 months on our Following the Invisible Line mission,” he said.
Noting that he was “overwhelmed with the new Defender”, Holgate said: “Its presence is so strong, so tough. We are eagerly waiting to put the most capable Land Rover ever created to the test on upcoming humanitarian adventures in Africa and possibly even beyond.”
Continuing, Holgate labeled the new models as the most technologically advanced vehicles the family had ever used, saying features such as configurable Terrain Response 2 would be useful in Africa.
“Now we can preset preferred parameters for varying terrains before we reach them so we can quickly adapt drive modes on the fly.
“I’m particularly excited about the digital rear view mirror, as we’re often loaded from floor to ceiling with malaria nets and other aid. A flick of the switch and we’ll have a clear view behind us,” he said.
And hinting more specifically at the upcoming expedition, Holgate revealed that the development of those plans were now underway in earnest.
“We’re studying maps and working on an incredible world-first expedition with which we’ll continue our work, but we’ll reveal these plans at a later stage.
“In the meantime, as many African borders are closed under COVID-19 lockdown measures, we’ll start using the new Defenders for some much-needed efforts to supply food, soap and masks to communities at home in South Africa,” concluded the adventurer.