Land Rover Defender– There’s plenty of space in the back though, and this is where Defenders excel. The rear bench has a flat floor and loads of room though the theatre-style, raised seating makes the view out in rows two and three increasingly restricted, hence the ‘skylight’ Alpine-style roof windows, while the rearmost seats are now forward facing, pop-down pews.
Earlier north-south benches are banned. So huge, side-hinged chairs now tumble down to accommodate passengers six and seven. They’re heavy and forget any fold-flat-into-the-floor tricks – they gobble up plenty of boot space when folded up.
Who said the Defender can’t be luxurious?
Two off road icons getting the aftermarket treatment in one day? Yes, after seeing the Mercedes G-Class in the G55 AMG guise pampered by Vilner. Now Startech is ready to show off its Land Rover Defender project. Reserved only for the more upscale versions of the Evoque, Range Rover, and Range Rover Sport, the Autobiography was never offered for the more utilitarian Defender. But the tuners from Germany have decided to create something similar.
The legendary Defender has been customized both inside. And out with the most obvious upgrades residing in the cabin where there’s now a leather-wrapped sporty steering wheel and shiny new aluminum pedals. But the piece resistance is the bespoke cream leather upholstery combined with lovely white surfaces on the seats, central armrest. And on the door panels. These two colors are separated by a subtle blue strip also noticeable on the black body and wheels. Startech’s Defender now boasts a Focal sound system with a trio of Swell speakers in the back where the tuner has installed a lovely wood floor. And applied a similar cream upholstery for the two benches.
Stepping outside of the vehicle, the off roader sits on one-piece 18-inch Monostar D Black wheels. And comes with aluminum running boards. The tuner has decided to black out the Defender lettering at the front to blend nicely with the predominantly dark exterior theme. There’s also a custom grille with an extra set of lights, along with a new hood and dirt flaps.
For those who would rather patiently wait for the all-new Defender, Land Rover says is not far away, though the Tata Motors-owned automaker has not provided an exact timetable. It is believed the next generation is pinned for a 2020 launch. And will improve upon the winning recipe. But with some changes in order to attract buyers from the younger generation.
How does the Defender drive?
Fire up the 2198cc longitudinally mounted four-cylinder turbodiesel, reach a long way forward for the impractically positioned handbrake. And the agricultural vibe continues. It’s Euro 5 only and provides clatter aplenty despite the recent addition of extra acoustic baffles. This is a heavy car, but the 266lb ft of twist at 2000rpm overcomes the near-two-tonne kerbweight better than the 120bhp does.
The gearchange is stubborn, but once underway you just leave it be, relying on that surfeit of torque. Driving a Landie at speed is a lesson in restraint; anything much over 50mph and the 4×4 bounces around, needing constant steering correction through the huge, spindly wheel like you’re playing BA Baracus from the A-Team. The 90mph top speed is best left untouched, the 110 preferring a more leisurely pace.
And once you accept the Defender’s dynamic deficiencies – on road, at least – everything clicks into place. This car is loved by people who admire its different qualities: the fact that it’ll run forever. Its practical load-lugging abilities. And the fact that you’ll never get stuck in bad weather ever again. Not to mention the sheer charm of it.
It’ll also tow a 3.5-tonne braked trailer, you can stack up to 150kg of clobber on the roof rack. And you get a full-sized, hilariously-profiled Continental Cross Contact AT 235/85 R16 spare wheel on the side-hinged back door. Praise too for the delightfully rugged rubber floor. How many other cars can you simply hose out nowadays after a muddy family walk?
Off-roading in the Land Rover Defender
We’ve driven 90s and 110s across all sorts of terrain – in Europe, Africa and Australasia – and never come cropper. Slip the transmission into low range and let those mud-biased tires take you wherever you want to go. Don’t think the Defender is an effortless off-roader though; with few electronic safety aids such as hill descent control or switchable driving modes like you’ll find in newer Land Rovers, you need to know what you’re doing to extract the best from it.
But engage your brain as well as low-speed transfer box, and you’ll soon enjoy the 45deg climbing gradient, extraordinary axle articulation and half-metre wading capability. It’s proper old-school, go-anywhere fun. And because of its grass-roots, unpretentious character, the Defender feels best when driven with a light smear of mud.
Any objective measurement of the Defender’s skills will reveal shortcomings in so many areas. Newer cars have come along and surpassed it in so many areas that you might wonder why Land Rover didn’t scrap it sooner.
But to do so is to miss the point of the Landis. Its rugged charm, developed over seven decades, is precisely the point of this iconic workhorse, and if you can live with the relatively high cost to buy and run (CO2 emissions on our car are 295g/km – higher than a McLaren 650S!) there’s no better rural companion. Grab one while you can.
What’s the used Land Rover Defender 4×4 like?
The Land Rover Defender is a favorite among farmers and other countryside dwellers. Its road manners leave a lot to be desired, and its styling hasn’t changed much since it was first launched in 1990, but it’s a very capable off-roader.
Production ended in January 2019. However, numerous variants were built during the car’s life; the range encompasses three wheelbases and 14 body styles.
Don’t expect much in the way of luxury. The dashboard is utilitarian, despite featuring buttons and switches from the larger Discovery SUV, and the driving position is so cramped that you’ll be forced to lower the window if you want somewhere to put your elbow.
Still, it’s not all bad news, because there’s enough space for a couple of adults in the back, as long as you go for one of the larger, 110 models.
Engine options are mostly confined to gutsy diesels, and although they are loud and unrefined. They do provide the Defender with enough go to get up to speed briskly. The Defender is far more at home in the countryside than it is on the open road, though. Because the ride is fidgety and unsettled at speed.
Don’t take those criticisms to mean that you shouldn’t buy a Land Rover Defender. Just bear in mind that this is a car for going off-road; a car for farms, jungles and deserts. Next to modern 4x4s it might look outdated. But very few vehicles can match its sheer talent for going anywhere and everywhere.
Land Rover Discovery
Fans of the modern SUV have an awful lot to thank Land Rover for. Over the past 70 years. However, Land Rover may have a richer heritage to shout about than its rivals, but that’s unlikely to persuade you to part with your hard-earned cash. If there’s something demonstrably better on offer at the same price. Put simply, the latest Discovery needs to be brilliant to tempt you away from other luxury SUVs such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.
But much more expensive Range Rover Sport. To that end. It should appeal to families who are more concerned about space, practicality. And go-anywhere ability than the finer nuances of luxury and performance.