The Twisted Land Rover Defender offers tasteful and considered mods which do the right things to improve the eccentric old Brit 4x4

Our Verdict

Land Rover Defender
The chassis and body are hugely strong and should last a lifetime. The detailing, such as the interior trim, is dreadful

The Land Rover Defender is an institution and unbeatable off road, if crude on it

What is it?

The Twisted French Edition Land Rover Defender 110 County Station Wagon. Or, to put it another way, a new long-wheelbase Landie, modified by a little-known company in North Yorkshire, to the tune of £80,000.

Why spend that much on something intended for battering across fields and up wintery hillsides, and to be used and generally abused? Because the Twisted Defender is a bit of a rarity among tuning-house makeovers: an unpretentious and entirely justified improvement on a creditable but undeniably flawed standard product.

What Twisted does, in essence, is address the yawning gap between the appealing theory and not-so-appealing practice of real-world Defender ownership. There are plenty of reasons you might like the idea of owning a proper Land Rover, after all. Whether or not you buy into the gentrified, anti-consumerist, singularly English image that the car has come to project, anyone can see the appeal of a full-sized 4x4 with such abundant practicality. One that’s cheap and easy to maintain, super-durable, holds its value better than most, and that really will go pretty much anywhere you point it – come what may.

For so many, it’s the reality of owning one of these old-school off-roaders that spoils the picture.  Defenders are everything that large modern SUVs aren’t: they’re not luxurious, nor refined, nor comfortable. And though they can be fun, they’re never particularly easy to drive.

Through Twisted, you can put a few new-age manners on your old-fashioned Landie. The firm has been offering packaged upgrades for Defenders since 2007, but has recently released several of its own modified ‘editions’ of the car. They’re available from about £45k, and amount to much more than a paint job, an ECU re-flash and some bull-bars.

What's it like?

Maturity isn’t a trait you usually find in a tuned special, but Twisted’s ‘French Edition’ 110 is a much more civilised machine than a standard Defender. That’s mostly because the firm’s work is so thorough.

It starts by stripping each ‘rebuild’ of cabin fittings, plugging the alarmingly large panel gaps that Defender owners often find in their cars, resealing the entire thing, rust-proofing the underbody and adding water-repellant sound deadening inside to keep the wind and road noise out. Leather goes on the fascia and doors, too, and Alcantara lines the roof. In the back, you can even have handmade oak gun boxes – should you need them.

Under the bonnet you get a new turbocharger, intercooler and ECU map, which turns 120bhp into 168bhp and 266lb ft into 316lb ft, and knocks about four seconds off the otherwise very sedate 0-62mph sprint. The resulting performance isn’t sporting; in fact, it isn’t even close. But it does transform the Defender from a slow car into an acceptable one.

The suspension makeover is more remarkable. Progressive-rate Eibach springs and Bilstein B6 dampers make a big improvement to the car’s body control and low-speed ride, without sacrificing any ground clearance. They don’t turn this live-axle warhorse into a Porsche Cayenne, nor even the equal of an average monocoque 4x4 for ride and handling. But they do make the Defender that critical bit more tolerable on a typical UK road. It fusses and fidgets much less on bad surfaces, and rolls less through corners than a standard car might. Dynamically, its act – while still not quite relaxing – seems less antiquated and more assured. And the Twisted car is also just as capable off-road as the standard car, with axle articulation unaffected by the modifications.

Should I buy one?

If you thought you could never live with a proper Landie, Twisted’s take on the car won’t change your mind. The company can do nothing about the Defender’s shortage of leverage space for your right arm, for instance, nor its imperfect pedal positioning. And they don’t change the emphatically rugged character of the car, either. If you don’t like the sound of that, stick to an X5.

But if you do like what the Defender represents and reckon you could almost get on with one on a daily basis – perhaps if you’ve had one before and you’ve given it up, or still have one and just want to make it more livable – there really is something interesting to investigate here. You’ll need a generous budget, and an indulgent disposition, but the end result could justify both.  

Twisted French Edition Defender 110 CSW

Price £80,000; 0-62mph c.12sec; Top speed c.100mph; Economy tbc; CO2 tbc; Kerbweight circa 2200kg; Engine 4cyls, 2200cc, turbodiesel; Power 168bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 316lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
19

11 October 2012

Having watched a well known car show recently,this is 30K dearer and does less,the show? (FIFTHGEAR,last episode).

Peter Cavellini.

11 October 2012

... but it is the 'real deal' and, LED Runing Lights aside, looks to be tastefully executed - unlike anything that Overfinch now produce.

But I'd have to stck it up against JE Engineering products... 

R32

11 October 2012

Ok, £80k to drive around in an "acceptable" Land Rover.  This is a joke, right?

Or you could simply buy an all-new Range Rover for the same money, which is clearly vastly superior.

11 October 2012

Yes it's eye-wateringly expensive. But it is £30K less than a G-Wagon.

R32

11 October 2012

Well a G350 costs £82,945 so it's not really £30k cheaper than a G-Class.

289

11 October 2012

....Quite right R32, I was going to say the same thing...and the G Wagen is in a different league to the Defender in engineering terms.

G-Wagens generally do 30 years service before looking secondhand....Defenders look scruffy and rusty within 3 years.

Agreed neither will win a beauty contest!

I get great amusement from these city types who want to create some illusion of grandeur (country Estate owner) to their neighbours...they are also the same plonkers who waddle into Cordings or Purdeys to get tucked up by the adoring staff (barely able to keep a straight face) with some garish shooting tweeds..." just the thing sir -suits you sir", which no self respecting real countryman would be seen dead in!

The Defender is basically a tractor able to travel quicker and carry more people...no amount of alcantara or leather will change that or the hideous driving position or lack of somewhere to put your right arm when the window is closed (real farmers never close the windows anyway), or the turning circle of a supertanker either.

A more ridiculous vehicle to use in London is hard to imagine, but Land-Rover and 'bits' companies like Twisted are making money out of these idiots....good luck to them, 'a fool and his money are soon parted'.

I can see the irony in the name Twisted now!!!  "oooh, suits you sir"

12 October 2012

289 wrote:

G-Wagens generally do 30 years service before looking secondhand....Defenders look scruffy and rusty within 3 years.

 

While in no way condoning expensive landrovers, you are unlikely to "see" a rusty defender unless you are laying on the floor inspecting the chassis as the bodywork is aluminium isn't it?

289

12 October 2012

exactly....rusty (chassis) if you want to be specific. Red with rust in 2 years...door hinges too, great rust stain streaks down the paintwork.

Actually the Aluminium degrades too making the paint peel...especially where it meets steel, and the bulkhead rots out.

12 October 2012

289 wrote:

exactly....rusty (chassis) if you want to be specific. Red with rust in 2 years...door hinges too, great rust stain streaks down the paintwork.

Actually the Aluminium degrades too making the paint peel...especially where it meets steel, and the bulkhead rots out.

I've seen Defenders with rusting door handles whilst brand new in the showroom. In addition, any salesman who tells you they don't leak, is a liar.

However, my family owns a 18 year old Defender 90 300TDi, which still runs and looks amazing. Mainly because it's been looked after; rust treated, paintwork touched up when needed etc. etc. It's car care in the traditional sense, much the same a Defender needs to be actually driven rather than just ridden around in.

Would I spend £80k on a Twisted French Edition? No chance. I'd rather spend a tenth of that and still get all the fun of owning a normal Defender, without the nouveau riche image.

11 October 2012

it may be that the suspension and power tweeks are worthwhile, and extra rust proofing cant be a bad idea, but none of the visual alterations appeal. 

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