If you’re into the 'rough and tumble' then there is arguably no better vehicle on the market than the Landrover Defender. Landrover may be up for sale but that hasn’t stopped them introducing a raft of changes to the 2007 Defender.
Greater ability both on-road and off-road plus increased comfort, performance and refinement are among the major improvements. A new 2.4 litre diesel engine offers increased torque and improved driveability while a new six-speed gearbox provides a lower first gear ratio, for better off-road control, and a high sixth gear for improved cruising refinement. Inside the vehicle, a new facia improves ergonomics, whilst new seating improves comfort for all occupants.
Defender’s new 2.4 litre, four-cylinder engine draws on parent company Ford’s acknowledged diesel engine expertise. Based on a cast-iron block, the engine features an alloy, 16-valve cylinder head with Denso common rail fuel injection. Combustion noise is dramatically reduced, thanks to new solenoid-driven fuel injectors, while a new Garrett variable geometry turbocharger helps ensure throttle response is improved over the outgoing engine. The new engine is fully compliant with EU4 emissions legislation.
Peak power output of the new 2.4 litre is 90 kW, with more than 90 percent of peak power available from less than 2200 rpm to over 4350 rpm - over 60 percent of the usable rev range. Torque output is higher than the outgoing engine right across the usable rev range, and the 360 Nm peak is delivered at only 2000 rpm; over 315 Nm of torque is available from 1500 rpm to 2700 rpm.
The new GFT MT 82 six-speed gearbox provides a much wider ratio spread than before; the lower first gear offers a reduction in crawl speed and combines with the engine’s increased torque output to make towing on-road and off-road easier. The increased engine torque has allowed the new sixth gear to be set 20 percent higher than the outgoing model’s top gear, benefiting fuel economy and cruising refinement.
Adopting the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra, changes to the Defender’s rugged exterior have been kept to a minimum, with a revised bonnet profile being the only clue to this being the new updated Defender.
“Defender’s timeless exterior has become synonymous with functional design. Every line and surface seems to be linked to the vehicle’s extraordinary capability, so we deliberately changed very little,” said Dave Saddington, Defender chief designer.
On the inside, the new Defender benefits from a revised facia, based on a single, large moulding supported on a robust steel rail to help eliminate squeaks and rattles. Instruments from Land Rover’s Discovery 3 provide clear, concise information to the driver, and details like all-LED instrument illumination help ensure high standards of reliability.
Ergonomic improvements include a new passenger-side grab handle that provides robust, two-handed support during extreme off-road driving. Landrover claims that the process of modernising Defender’s facia hasn’t sacrificed its usability, with versatile stowage shelves conveniently located for both the driver and passenger.
In-car entertainment systems have been upgraded to take advantage of Defender’s improved refinement. For the first time, high-mounted tweeters are available in Defender and work in conjunction with the new speaker installation for significantly improved clarity and sound reproduction.
Defender’s new facia also houses an all-new heating and ventilation system. Cabin airflow is up almost 50 per cent, with new aluminium plate and fin heat exchangers helping deliver improved performance.
The air-conditioning system can cool the cabin in half the time of the old unit, and achieve cabin temperatures 7°C lower, while the addition of side window demist vents helps maintain visibility.
Seating has also been improved with new taller front seats designed to improve back support and head restraint ergonomics. Robust, more supportive second row seats have also been introduced. Both the 110 Station Wagon and 130 Crew Cab models can comfortably accommodate three occupants on a new, asymmetrically-split second row seat. A spring-assisted fold mechanism helps when folding the seats for carrying large or awkward loads.
The Defender's third row occupants benefit from a pair of individual, full-size, forward-facing rear seats, providing significantly increased comfort and space over the outgoing model. Accessed either through the rear door or by folding the second row seats, they can be easily folded and stowed sideways in the loadspace. The seat trims are made from durable all-vinyl and cloth. Three-point safety belts are specified for all seating positions.
Upgraded sound insulation, the common rail engine’s excellent combustion control and the significantly higher top gear all contribute to a substantial overall improvement in cabin refinement. In the words of Gary Taylor, Defender’s chief programme engineer, “For many customers, the step change in Defender’s refinement will be one of the most welcome advances; not only are noise levels significantly lower, but sound quality is transformed too.”
Defender 110 Station Wagon $48,990
Defender 130 Crew Cab Chassis $50,990
Metallic Paint $900
7 Seats (110 model only) $2,000