Slot the Getrag gearbox into first, raise the heavy clutch and, at first, you’ll be impressed by the performance of the new motor. Its 121bhp at 3500rpm may not sound much, but it’s blessed with 265lb ft of torque at 2000rpm, and in the lower gears, you’ll not struggle to keep up with the traffic.

Flat out around the test track, our test car reached a mighty 83mph, and did so suspiciously quickly. Just like a BMW M5, its top speed is restricted. Unlike the M5, however, the Defender’s electronics are meant to call it a day at 85mph. It is, apparently, for ‘operational’ reasons, from which we infer that the Defender becomes difficult to operate above such speeds.

Steve Sutcliffe

Editor-at-large
New bonnet is steel rather than aluminium; not only will it rot in time, but it’s also heavy.

The engine refinement, while still quite vocal, is clearly a big improvement and the motor’s muscular low-down torque helps make the Defender more driveable. The six-speed ’box needs a firm hand but is clean in its shifts and positive.

The brake specification is one of the areas where the Defender has changed not at all. There are discs all round, with ventilation for those up front, and they offer good feel and reasonable, fade-free retardation.

Off road, the Defender is enormously capable, but it takes much more effort from the driver than is needed in a modern, electronically controlled off-roader, not least in finding – and selecting – the right gear in difficult conditions. One thing that has made it much easier to drive in extreme situations is the engine’s stall control. At crawling speeds, it is possible for the driver to lift off the pedals altogether and let the stall control inch the vehicle forward.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Sports SUVs

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Land Rover range

Driven this week

  • Vauxhall VXR8 GTS-R
    The VXR8 GTS-R is a limited-edition model that marks the demise of the V8-powered Vauxhall… probably forever
    First Drive
    22 August 2017
    There will only be 15 made, but is the GTS-R the final hurrah for the infectious Vauxhall VXR8? We've had an exclusive drive
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio
    The new Alfa Romeo Stelvio. We've tested it on UK roads for the first time
    First Drive
    18 August 2017
    First tilt on UK roads reveals a chassis almost as absorbing as the Giulia’s, though the Stelvio’s comfort and quality levels may disappoint SUV clientele
  • Car review
    18 August 2017
    Amid a broader vRS refresh, Skoda has built its most powerful Octavia yet to take on the established order
  • Jaguar F-Type Convertible 2.0 i4 on the road
    First Drive
    16 August 2017
    Having been previously impressed by the agile four-cylinder F-Type, now is our chance to try it in the UK and in open-top form. But can this entry-level Jaguar sports car hold off the impressive Porsche Boxster?
  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR
    The Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR is a swansong for the Vantage - but the first model to sport the AMR title
    First Drive
    16 August 2017
    Aston Martin's swansong for its venerable Vantage sports car allows it to bow out with its head held high, yet the performance AMR sub-brand's first outing leaves you feeling short-changed