I am no stranger to Land Rovers having had a Defender myself in the past and still tow the trailer with a very elderly Discovery, which once had the job of towing a milk drink stand around Wales prior to our purchase.

In addition to these two useful and versatile vehicles I live each day wondering why there is the remains of a Series 2 in one of my paddocks and occasionally catching a glimpse of a Series 1 that is being “renovated” – if that’s what you call something that has been in a workshop for several years.

My partner’s daughter liked them so much that she went to her wedding in her Series 1 (which was the subject of one of Smallholder’s earlier front covers).

So I was very curious to find out how the Land Rover had progressed from its early years to the version that I and my partner, the Land Rover enthusiast, Mick, trialled for a week recently. Looking round the latest version of the iconic Land Rover, the Defender 110 Double Cab bears the design hall marks of the original vehicles although the ventilation via opening the lower windscreen has been refined to the point where the vehicle now offers air conditioning. But it is easily recognisable as a Land Rover and it drives in the expected way, as a robust four-by-four vehicle that is happy in any terrain.

Incidentally I can recall that Top Gear used to have a wall where they classified cars as cool or not and I was surprised to find that my Defender of the time, purchased by me purely for practical reasons, was so cool to be seen in that it was top in the sub-cool listings.

My version was somewhat noisier than the one we were trialling – radio was an impossibility and lip reading was the only real option for communication in my old vehicle. But the Defender 110’s radio could easily be heard and Mick and I were able to talk all the way to Builth Wells, a journey of some 200 miles. I cannot help thinking he was less happy about this than I was as he became somewhat monosyllabic as we approached the RWAS Showground.

I felt very safe sat up high in the Defender 110 on the long journey to Wales and this updated model is as at home cruising at 70 on the motorway as it is ascending an impossibly steep muddy hill in four wheel drive mode. This makes it a very versatile workhorse indeed and the five generously sized seats make it a really good people carrier. You can imagine that in the window you can easily fit in people wearing bulky outer clothing (though the heating system is very efficient so probably no need), dogs, shopping, bags of feed in the back – all you need for your average day out in the country.

The Land Rover brochure tells me: “The five-seater double cab pick-up has the capacity to carry personnel and equipment across treacherous terrain securely. And extensive, separate cargo bed on the 110 wheelbase version means that loads can be kept away from passengers.

I think that is what I am trying to say in layman’s terms. And add the treacherous motorways on to that statement.

Just in case anyone is not as keen on Land Rovers as we are, the Series 1 was introduced in 1948 with the famous HUE being the first one off the production line. So the basic concept has been refined, updated and sometimes improved on for 63 years, Land Rover enthusiasts would debate for hours if all the changes have been for the better. This is a long time in the vehicle manufacturing business. Some 169 countries worldwide are buying the Land Rover range on a regular basis. The Land Rover, later termed the Series 1 was followed by the Series 2 in 1958, the Series 2 A and the Series 3 in 1971. You’ll find many of the Series 3 still working at a smallholding near you. In 1990 Land Rover introduced the Defender which in my opinion, kept the work horse ethic but also gave it the versatility to be a real option for longer road journeys. Incidentally I was amazed at how well Land Rovers hold their value, selling my elderly Defender for around what I had paid for it whilst the Series continue to rise in value due to keen collectors.

You really are not just buying a vehicle but buying into a whole new family – fellow Land Rover drivers nearly always put their hands up to you as you pass each other!

Inside the cab, it’s still recognizable a Land Rover but there is more comfort and a bettelaid out dashboard. The only little moan is that the driver’s elbow is still tight to the door forcing that driving position so beloved of some Land Rover drivers – the elbow out of the open window. Interestingly I found this far less than Mick so maybe it is a bloke thing. According to Land Rover, the Defender 110 station wagons featuring the utility pack can gain a classification change from M1 passenger carrying to N1 light commercial vehicle. With a payload capability in excess of 1,000kg, the Defender 110 utility wagon also meets requirements to be classified as a light goods vehicle for VAT purposes should the usage be commercial.

The utility pack, which is a no cost option available on all three trim levels – base, County and XS – replaces the rear side windows of the standard station wagon with panelled sides, providing a secure load space area whilst still maintaining seating for five people.

John Edwards, UK managing director of Land Rover said: “The change in classification for the Defender 110 utility wagon provides our business customers with a more flexible and cost-effective alternative to other double cabs.

“The utility pack ensures a more secure load space whilst not affecting the vehicle's ability to transport five people comfortably – making it an ideal workhorse.”

So what of the specs? The engine is 2.4 litre, four-cylinder and it certainly lives up to the claims that it is 30 per cent quieter. It has a new six speed gear box which took me a bit of getting used to but once mastered, is very useful. The first gear is a real crawler gear which is ideal for towing heavy loads. And what about that load? Maximum weight for a braked trailer is a staggering 3500kg which makes it very useful indeed. It’s far better to tow with weight to spare than be right up to that maximum. A horse trailer with two big horses is approaching the 2500/3000 kg weight. The sixth gear will help to improve fuel consumption at road cruising speeds, hence our (or my) pleasant journey down to Wales.

The high/low ratio transfer box, so well tested in previous models plus the differential locks makes the Defender a choice of someone who has to really use a vehicle off road in safety and comfort.

This new model retains the beloved and well tested features of the previous models but makes concessions to its road use on today’s motorways. It is superb off road and fun to drive on the road, making it a great choice for the serious smallholder who has to combine the work of two vehicles in one iconic workhorse.

The Defender 110 Double Cab starts at £23,455 with the 90 version starting at around £21,000.