Land Rover Defender 2007 Test Drive
This test drive was done by
Autocar.co.uk - we don't have these in SA yet, although they are
expected in show rooms by September 2007.
From the outside youíll tell it
from the car it replaces only from its raised bonnet
(required to clear the new engine) and the fact that the
vents beneath the windscreen, one of the most iconic
signposts of Landie design, have been deleted.
Itís happened because they could
not fit into the new interior package and the new
ventilation system means theyíre not needed, however much
they may be wanted. Inside youíll find not only new eyeball
vents, but a whole new dash, new seats, Disco-derived dials
and, at last, reasonably sensible switchgear. The short
wheelbase Defender will now only sit four (it used to house
seven) and the long one has lost its congestion
charge-busting nine seat layout and is now limited to seven.
Mechanically thereís a
121bhp, 2.4-litre four cylinder engine new to the Defender
but very familiar to Ford Transit drivers, complete with its
six speed gearbox and spring and damper changes to improve
ride and response on and off road.
Whatís it like?
Better at all the things a
Defender needs to be good at, namely getting you places
youíd otherwise need some combination of a machete, rope
ladder, crampons, Sherpa and pith helmet to reach.
The new engine has no more
power than the five cylinder motor it replaces, but it now
has so much torque, it actually has to be electronically
restricted during extreme downhill descents off road to stop
the car going so slowly the tyres start to lock. A first
gear some 32 per cent shorter than the old one helps too.
All the old ground clearance and axle articulation remains
and it will still wade through half a metre of water without
the need for a raised air intake.
Land Rover has also paid a
lot of attention to improving ride and refinement on and off
the road so that now it not only offers a more comfortable
vantage point from which to view the mountain youíre
scaling, it is also rather less wearing on the journey from
base camp back to the local town.
Do not, however mistake it
for a car youíd do long distances in by choice. For comfort
and quiet, a Discovery has more in common with a Rolls-Royce
Phantom than this Defender. Yes itís no longer
excruciatingly crude at speed (with a top speed of 82mph, I
use Ďspeedí as a relative term) but it will still take you
longer to reach your destination and deliver you in a more
frazzled state than almost any other car on sale.
Should I buy one?
If youíve always wanted an
original Landie, this is your last chance. Sometime between
2010 and 2014, forthcoming legislation will kill the
Defender (it already canít be sold in the US) and one of the
longest lived, and globally loved and iconic cars will cease
Designed as a short-term stop
gap to combat the Willys Jeep, its iconic angular shape came
from the fact that its life expectancy was so short it was
not worth investing in tools that made curves. And that
aluminium body which ensures that, even today, 70 per cent
are still on the road, came about not through thoughts of
corrosion resistance and light weight, but because, after
the war, there was so much scrap around it was the cheapest
material to hand.
This car will, of course, be
replaced. Land Rover already sells 25,000 a year without
having to try very hard, but however good is the new one, it
will not be a Defender.
Buy it also if you need an
SUV but donít wish to be targeted by the off-road haters.
Sian Berry, who speaks on matters motoring for the Green
Party, spends a sizeable chunk of her time slapping fake
parking tickets on SUVs, but sheíll never put one on a
Defender. Even the greenies understand this car and its
unimpeachable place in the nationís heritage.
Itís not cheap, some of the
interior materials are still shocking, itís slow, noisy and
not very comfortable but, to my eyes at least, itís still
the greatest off-roader of them all.
of the Land Rover Defender 2007/2008
New Land Rover Defender 2007 in SA
Top Gear -
Land Rover Defender Reviews