The Land Rover Defender is an institution and unbeatable off road, if crude on it
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What is it?
Nothing to do with Subaru’s long-defunkt SVX coupe – this SVX is a special edition of the iconic Land Rover Defender, introduced to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the generic British 4x4. The original Land Rover made its debut at the Amsterdam show in 1948 – but the family resemblance between it and the modern Defender is still evident.
The SVX is available as both a station wagon and a soft top (tested here), offering British buyers the first opportunity to choose an open-skies Defender for two decades. The SVX shares its mechanical layout with the standard Defender, including the same recently revised 2.4 litre four-cylinder Ford turbodiesel engine, but it gains Recaro seats, big wheels and distinctive brightwork, including a silver coloured grilled and headlamp surround.
What’s it like?
Pretty good, actually. Like all Defenders, it’s not quick. But it is easy to drive thanks to the flexible power delivery of the ex-Transit 2.4-litre four-cylinder direct injection diesel engine that has replaced the old five-pot unit.
It’s also flatter-riding than any previous Defender courtesy of some subtle, SVX-only improvements to the damping, and much more comfortable.
The new seats support occupants far better, but they also transform the driving position from the usual Defender olden-days compromise into something close to ideal. Firmer cushioning improves comfort, too.
The interior also gets some other small but well considered trim changes, iPod connectivity, satnav and a decent sound system – although it still struggles to make itself heard over road and engine noise at cruising speeds. The mighty silver rollcage looks good, too.
Like any Defender it performs brilliantly off-road thanks to good ground clearance, excellent axle articulation, a locking centre diff and clever traction control.
Should I buy one?
The SVX will have a small and select following among those seeking the ultimate incarnation of the Defender. All versions of the Defender hold their value well, and the green-and-white 50th anniversary model is now highly prized by collectors.
Only 90 (of 300) SVX soft-tops and station wagons will be sold in the UK, so rarity is assured. That said, the starting price looks steep – but Land Rover no longer sells anything cheap.