Being away from home for three days, especially when you have kids or pets, can prove rather tricky. But when you are invited to journey into “the world of Defender” with Land Rover, which is to take place in the natural oasis of Babylonstoren, you make a plan to be there.
The Journey Begins
This journey kicked off on a freezing cold and wet day in Cape Town. We headed to Bistro Sixteen82 in Steenberg for what would set the tone for a three-day gastronomic explosion. After lunch and a driver briefing, we hopped into the first of three Land Rover Defenders we would get to drive. I opted for the 110 D300 model, mainly because of the colour, which is Pangea Green with a protective film on it from the factory to help protect against stone chips, road rash and scratches. Don’t you love something that is not only beautiful but also practical?
Under The Bonnet
The engine under the bonnet of this 110 model is a 3.0-litre turbodiesel producing 221 kW and 650 Nm. We casually made our way up the West Coast in the pouring rain. Thanks to the seat heaters my backside was nice and toasty. I was kept ever so chilled with a Nearly Weds podcast episode playing in the background. Even in poor driving conditions, the convoy of six Defenders brightened up the road. Some would have assumed we were in transit with some very important people (not just a handful of motoring journalists).
It was in October of 2020 that I drove this exact route in the then-newly launched Defender. My sentiment about this car remains the same – the package with this drivetrain just works. And it is oh so comfortable.
The Babylonstoren Arrival
We arrived at what must be one of the most special places in South Africa – Babylonstoren. The website’s description of it alone should make you want to go there,
“…one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms…It has a fruit and vegetable garden of beauty and diversity, unique accommodation, fine food and wine, and evokes a sense of wellbeing.”
Dinner was at Babylon’s culinary haven, Babel. Here we were treated to a family-style feast inspired by seasonal produce celebrating farm-to-table cuisine. This highlighted the organic and sustainably grown produce sourced directly from the Babylonstoren gardens.
Embrace the magnificence
After sleeping on clouds, I hopped into the Land Rover 130 model, which has the same engine and outputs as the 110. But this First Edition model really appeals to the parent in me. It is enormous. And I don’t know about other parents out there, but I find that there is no car big enough for all the paraphernalia that comes with children! It comes in five- and eight-seater guise. The latter offering 2 516 litres of space if you put the second and third-row seats down. You could just about fit a whole other car in there. Many might be intimidated by having to manoeuvre such a large car, but I can assure you, it doesn’t feel all that different to driving the slightly smaller 110 model.
If you are headed off-road, up a mountain, in torrential rain, there is really only one car you want to be in, and that is a Defender. The terrain felt more like a playground for this powerhouse. We traversed the large divots, puddles and rivers with such ease and grace we might as well have been on a tarred road. The Defender is truly a comfortable and composed all-rounder.
A Work Of Art
The lunch spot was the culinary gem nestled within the picturesque landscape of Leeu Estate in Franschhoek – Petite La Colombe. It is a masterpiece of culinary craftsmanship. The menu, crafted with meticulous attention to detail, takes inspiration from local and seasonal ingredients, showcasing the best of what the Franschhoek region has to offer. Each plate is a work of art, with vibrant colours and intricate plating. It was an unforgettable experience.
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That evening was, thankfully, just a light snack provided by Babylonstoren’s Bakery restaurant before a much-needed rest before embarking on our last day of driving which I did in the explosive Defender 90 V8 model with its insane 5.0-litre engine boasting 386 kW and 625 Nm of torque. Needless to say, I made it back to Steenberg in record time. Not to mention, style. It is the most impractical of the three models, if you require more space that is, but it is by far my favourite. I felt like a Kardashian sister… or someone with far more street cred.
To be re-acquainted with the Defender family merely served as a reminder that these cars are continuing the iconic heritage set out by the previous generation. Here’s to more Defender experiences.
Juliet McGuire is South Africa’s leading female motoring journalist. She’s been a motoring journalist for the past 14 years and she is here to help you make an informed decision when buying a car.