What is it?
This is the substantially modified 2012-model year version of the car that won’t lie down and die. Tracing its roots right back to the original 1948 Land Rover concept, the new Land Rover Defender has been given a new engine that meets stringent EU5 standards and a significant overhaul to improve refinement. This overhaul could keep the Defender in the showrooms until at least 2015.
Replacing the old Transit-sourced 2.4-litre diesel is a new 2.2-litre unit, which gets a single variable-vane turbocharger and a new Continental high-pressure (1800 bar) fuel injection system. The engine gets updated fluid seals and a robust single-mass flywheel. (Most modern road cars use dual mass flywheels for refinement, but these can be fragile). Despite all this, the power and torque of the new unit are identical to the outgoing engine.
A bespoke anti-pollution system was also designed for the Defender. The catalyst and particulate filter are mounted close together and the whole assembly is squeezed into the engine bay - ensuring that the expensive and vulnerable equipment is not destroyed by serious off-roading.
The upshot of the re-engineering is that ‘virtually every component in the engine bay has been re-located’. The 2012 Defender also gets a significantly upgraded NVH kit, including a new acoustic hood for the engine, more efficient sound-deadening and improved seals.
There are new option packs for the Defender range, including a £1650 Comfort Pack (including air-con, CD player, electric windows and remote locking) and a £1500 Off-Road Pack (which includes ABS, heavy duty rims and MTR tyres, tow-ball and under-ride protection bar). The whole Defender line-up covers three wheelbases and up to 14 different body styles.
What’s it like?
Better than the old model, but still something of an acquired taste for anybody but the true believer. This Defender is more planted than the outgoing model, still requires some concentration on tarmac. To a driver used to a modern road car, it radiates a nervousness and unpredictability not least through the indirect steering feel.