I fully admit that I’m the last person in the world to deliver an objective opinion of the Land Rover Defender – a car I’m on record as preferring to pretty much any other.
But while my W124 Merc has been having some of its growing crop of electrical issues ironed out (more details to follow), I’ve spent the last few days in the Defender 110 XS that’s just joined our fleet. And I’ve been won over, again.
It’s not that the Defender is a particularly good at the sort of things we expect modern cars to excel at. Even the recently-installed Transit engine hasn’t done much to diminish the industrial forge noise of a motorway cruise, performance could be politely described as adequate (wrung out it just about keeps up with modern traffic), and the recent interior makeover means there are now fewer than a dozen edges in the cabin sharp enough to draw blood.
So why do I still love it? First and foremost, because it turns every journey into an adventure. No modern car delivers a better feeling of momentum than a rolling Landie, the towering seating position gives occupants a bird’s eye view over proceedings and the heavy, precise controls reward smoothness.
But the full-on 110 is also an unarguably useful thing, capable of swallowing three adults, one baby, a folded pushchair and a trip to Ikea without breaking sweat. The skyscraper dimensions make you think it’s enormous, but it’s actually impressively space-efficient by modern standards, being a whole 20cm shorter than my Mondeo.
Yes, it’s a deeply flawed gem – not least when you start to thinking what else you could buy with the £30K-ish optioned price of this one. But we’ll miss it when it’s gone.