The reason I ask is because I’ve spent the weekend in the venerable Land Rover Defender, Britain’s 60-year-old go-anywhere hero and by far the quirkiest vehicle I’ve driven to date. It arrived at our office unannounced last week and carries the firm’s new EU5-compliant 2.2-litre diesel engine for 2012.
But enough of the news, the Defender’s much more than that. It’s a brilliantly spirited machine and one, which, according to His Hilton of Holloway, is attracting increasing numbers of Chelsea yuppies as owners on a daily basis.
Apart from the obvious benefits that come from driving such an extreme 4x4 – such as complete right of way at all times and the feeling of invincibility – it’s the little touches that make the Defender so rewarding. These range from the sense of pride you’ll get from conquering the Everest that is hoisting yourself (unceremoniously) into the driver’s seat, to locating the ignition (on the left of the steering wheel) and tracking down the handbrake, which pretty much sits at your left ankle.
Other quirks include not being able to turn the ignition off if the lights are on (the light stalk butts up against the key when the lights are on) and the sight of a knobbly off-road wheel every time you look in the rear-view mirror.
Driving the Defender’s just as interesting. Thanks to numb steering you constantly fidget with the wheel to keep it in a (vaguely) straight line and the lazy brakes take some getting used to as well.
Off-road, as I’m sure many of you can testify, the world suddenly makes sense again. Point the Defender in any direction (like the deceptively steep public footpath pictured) and it’ll devour it without a second thought. And should you ever run out of talent and get stuck, there’s always the handy winch ready, which is nice.