The iconic Land Rover Defender received a major makeover at the beginning of 2007 and it was not before time. It really was starting to show its age, despite still having an enviable off-road ability and selling 23,000-plus per annum worldwide.
Beneath the bulging pressed aluminium bonnet — the only external panel to have changed — lies a four-cylinder 2.4-litre common rail turbodiesel taken from the Transit; Ford owns Land Rover. In Defender trim it produces 122hp and develops 361Nm of peak torque, most of which is available between 1,500rpm and 2,700rpm. The 2.7-litre V6 from the Discovery 3 won’t fit.
This engine is much more refined than the TD5 unit it replaces and the high torque output endows Defender with a substantial off-road ability. It retains a manual shift dual range permanent four-wheel drive transmission, but gains a six-speed manual gearbox. It hits the 82mph speed-limiter — to match the speed rating of the tyres — in fifth and sixth gear.
The really big change, however, is to be found inside the Defender. For the first time ever it gets a heating/ventilation system that actually makes for a more comfortable life for those in the cab. The dashboard is borrowed from the Discovery and there’s a four-gauge instrument binnacle with a revcounter and digital odometer on all models.
Storage space is still at a premium, however, and the driver remains somewhat wedged up against the door.There’s even a premium Radio/CD player with dash-mounted tweeters. The line-up, as before, includes 90,110 and 130 derivatives, with a choice of Hard Top, Pick-up, Double Cab Pick-up and chassis cabs.
The venerable Defender has been dragged into the 21st century and not before time. It still has some way to go in the in-cab comfort department, but it remains refreshingly mechanical in this hitech age. It’s still not for whimps.