There is now a world of difference inside. The dashboard features new instruments in the Discovery style, and a new ventilation system brings fresh-air eyeball vents to the cockpit and crude-looking switches and dials to make them work.

As ever, hard black plastic is the predominant theme – no attempt at all has been made to gentrify the Defender. Moreover, the driving position remains appallingly cramped despite the fitment of new, more supportive seats. Elbow space is notable for its absence and legroom is right on the limit of comfortable.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Turbocharging comes from a Honeywell-Garrett variable-nozzle turbo which can direct the flow of exhaust gas at different parts of the turbo’s induction wheel

In the back, where you’ll now find just two forward-pointing seats that, perhaps uniquely, you can access only through the rear door, headroom is at a premium. Adults will be able to stretch their legs, but you sit perched so high above those in the front that taller occupants will find their head becoming unusually well acquainted with the headlining. The seat backs tip forward and the seats themselves can be folded easily into the side of the car to leave a vast boot, but they don’t slide, tumble, recline or come out. An MPV it ain’t.

The lack of a rear bulkhead in this 90 means that the seats (which seem to be more generously padded) will just about go back far enough for a six-foot driver, but the narrow cabin requires elbows to be tucked well in during low-speed maneuvering. The centre console is laid out clearly and backlit effectively at night. The heater is volcanic, but its old-school water-valve technology makes it very hard to regulate.

Ergonomic madness abounds – especially the upright handbrake and a key that can’t be turned when the headlamp switch is in the ‘on’ position. The column stalks date back to the original Austin Metro, the headlamps are weak and the wipers clear just a tiny part of the screen.

Top 5 Sports SUVs

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster 2017
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    It's the slower and cheaper of the two AMG GT Roadsters, but these adjectives are harsh given this excellent open-top's broad range of talents
  • Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster 2017
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster arrives with an upgraded chassis over the Coupé and tweaks that make it even more thrilling to drive
  • First Drive
    29 March 2017
    Sporty GT Line styling gives Kia's city car the visual lift it needs to go toe-to-toe with its European rivals, and the 1.2-litre engine does a power of good for its drivability
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110 SE Navigation
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    This is a first UK drive of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf, which comes with an updated infotainment system and a lower price. What's not to like?
  • Volkswagen Golf R
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    A facelift for the fantastically capable all-rounder delivers more power and new tech to the cabin, improving on an already exceptional formula