Land Rover’s Defender hardtop (finally) has some competition, in the form of a new wagon version of Toyota’s 70-series Land Cruiser.The Land Rover Defender has traditionally held three trump cards over its Japanese rival in the South African market. Whereas Toyota only offers the Land Cruiser’s utilitarian 70-series in five-door wagon and bakkie configuration, Defenders are available in short-wheel base, double-cab and two-door hardtop wagon form, too.With the introduction of its new 78 wagon, Toyota has extended its Land Cruiser 70 series range to three models and can now offer customers the ruggedness of a bakkie, with the all-weather protection of a wagon.Old schoolPowered by Toyota’s ancient (and unbreakable) 4.2-litre in-line six cylinder diesel engine, the new Cruiser 78 is slow but indestructible. Featuring solid axles all-round (with coils at the front wheel corners and leaf springs aft), two differential locks (front and rear) and a low-range reduction ratio transfer case, it will idle over even the most severely broken terrain with ease. If you manage get the Cruiser 78 cross-axled, engaging both axle lockers is sure to get you on your way again.Although the naturally aspirated 4.2-litre diesel engine produces very little power (96kW) and torque (285Nm) for a contemporary full-sized off-road wagon, it does have the ability to run on the most contaminated diesel fuel imaginable – which is a crucial factor when called into service for a long-range driving excursion across Africa. Boasting 180-litres of fuel carrying capacity, the Land Cruiser 78 has unmatched range in its class. Unfortunately service intervals are still (bizarrely) pegged at 5 000km...Standard features include dual airbags, air-conditioning and central locking. A radio/CD player is an optional extra. Cabin trim is very utilitarian (although the new four-spoke steering wheels and instrumentation is a huge improvement) with vinyl seats (individual up front, bench seat at the rear) and a 1.2- by 1.5m load area.Access to the load area is via a vertically split tailgate, which does not offer the additional seating and shade convenience of a horizontally split configuration. In mitigation the Defender range’s rear door also swings sideways instead of opening upwards…Primarily aimed at researchers, construction and mining crews or couples keen on an epic African adventure, the Land Cruiser 78 is available in white or sand beige and retails for R450 800. If the Land Cruiser 76’s cloth seats are not to your taste, and the dust-proofing (not to mention heat build-up) issues of running a Cruiser 79 bakkie with a canopy are undesirable, then this hardtop Cruiser 78 is just what you have been waiting for.