Defender takes the lead

by Andy Bryenton

With victories both in sports and in sales to add to their trophy cabinet for 2018, Can-Am can certainly offer some top tips about how to get to the top. Then again, if their new 2019 Defender is anything to go by, they can also offer some sage advice about how to stay there.

With a massive victory in Australia’s demanding Finke Desert Race — the gruelling ‘Dakar Down Under’, which chews up and spits out unready machines — Can-Am have also elevated their Defender HD8 side-by-side utility off-roader to the top position in Kiwi sales. However, resting on their laurels is just something the big North American firm refuses to do.

Even as they blitzed the sales charts, Can-Am engineers were making sure the new HD8 for model year 2019 delivered more.

How? With massive options to transform the base HD8 — with its powerful, reliable engine, massive ground clearance and smooth ride — into pretty much whatever the customer demands. An options list like the one Can-Am can present to Defender buyers is the size of a telephone book, and almost matches up to the amount of practical ‘toys’ Harley Davidson riders have at their fingertips.

Take, for example, the age-old argument — should I buy a nimble little side-by-side, or a more enclosed, weather-defying small farm ute? Can-Am lay down a winning hand here by offering an enclosed roof, doors with power windows, a windshield with wipers, a Bluetooth enabled waterproof stereo system, and even a heater for the cab. Moreover, that’s just one example. Cage up the back deck for a bigger load, or make it tip up using an electric motor. Add on massive lights, a winch and gun racks for hunting. Or — for the most extreme conditions — the Defender even comes with tank treads.

That is not to say that the 2019 Defender HD8 is lacking anything at all right out of the box. It’s just that, in its expected life as a multi-role off-road companion to hard-working farmers, there’s a whole lot which might be demanded of this versatile machine. Effectively, CanAm has built on the strengths of the Defender, but then allow their customers to build even further. Nevertheless, that’s certain to be another winning combination.