A hoot. Flawed, certainly - as you might expect at this stage - but easily likeable enough to confirm that Twisted is probably onto something. The key feature here is burliness; the bigger engine, tightly squeezed under the Defender's bonnet, is heavier, noisier, keener and manifestly tougher than even the Twisted-fettled version of the 2.2-litre motor.
With the firm’s attentions it idles with a roaring, impatient five-cylinder thrum. Predictably, given its provenance, first and second gear feel short enough to get a concrete horse-box underway, and can almost be bypassed completely should you wish.
Third and fourth are hardly what you’d consider long either, although both are rambunctiously propulsive. Really, as it’ll pull cleanly from 30-70mph in the next ratio, it’s fifth and sixth where you spend most of your time though - and where the car announces itself as something different.
Instead of easing into 60mph like it’s been winded at the effort, the 3.2-engined Defender uses its almighty, largely unhindered twist to surge well beyond the familiar chug.
Outright quick, by modern standards, it probably isn’t, but for Land Rover’s pop-riveted lackey it feels incredibly enthusiastic beyond 70mph. Overtaking, instead of being limited to rounding cyclists, is now credible even on a fast A-road.
Exploring its potential however is not a quiet or relaxing business. Twisted’s impeccable soundproofing can only do so much; this is an unapologetic workhorse of an engine, and from the weight of the gear change to the low geared, Transit-like power band, it shows everywhere.
The firm may yet choose to somewhat lengthen the ratios of the six-speed gearbox for a bit more usability in the lower gears, although Twisted is keen not to rob the model of its towing prowess at higher road speeds.
Certainly there are few other applications where such an obviously industrial power source would be acceptable. But the Defender is obviously a class apart in that sense, and as a long-term recipient of such engines, the five-pot’s fitment doesn’t inordinately pervert the established formula.
It does, at the moment, make for a slightly different breed of Twisted though; without the added compliance of the progressive springs, the prototype is a more insistent prospect to drive than its other offerings.
Not uncomfortable or unlikeable for it however - especially as the elimination of that initial body roll has endowed it with a newly aggressive turn-in that suits the extra grunt.