Tuesday, 21 August 2012 13:32

Final defence of a mighty realm

Written by 

WHEN DRIVING a genuine motoring icon you tend to forgive shortcomings, especially when you are driving the last of the breed.

The Defender, Land Rover’s brand touchstone, has fought a good fight, but time has almost overtaken the old girl. To meet tough EU emissions standards Land Rover has dropped a modern turbo-diesel engine under the hood to extend its life; modern safety standards will be harder to meet with what is fundamentally a 60-year old design. A replacement is in development.

The cleaner engine is a 2.2L 4-cylinder – an honest toiler, though not particularly refined, which produces ‘power’ of 90kW @ 3500rpm and torque of 360Nm @ 2000rpm. Not quick but it gets the job done and does not exceed the limitations of the chassis as a more powerful engine might.

The rest of the mechanicals are old school and rugged: beam axles at both ends, heavy-duty suspension, high/low range transfer case and permanent 4WD, augmented by modern technology in the form of anti-lock braking and electronic traction control. Suffice to say, it will drive over almost anything off-road.

The interior is more liveable than older Defenders and equipment levels attempt to support the $71,500 price. The 110 Station Wagon we drove had electric windows, partial leather trim, air con, central locking, etc – all stuff you’d expect as standard in most vehicles these days. You’re paying a premium for the badge, let’s face it.

We could write screeds about the shortcomings of this vehicle if we were to judge it by modern standards. As we said, it’s an icon, so let’s judge it on its own merits. 

The overriding impression left by the big white Defender is that it’s a huge amount of fun. Every trip is an adventure. There are few ‘new’ cars left in which you have to be so fully involved in driving – as opposed to just sitting and steering. Every gear change is a deliberate effort, every corner must be considered in advance. 

It’s no hardship though. Driving the last of the old Defenders is a glorious affair, rich in nostalgia, and yet the car functions well enough in the modern world if you avoid tight urban environs. 

And did we mention fun? Just ask all the other Defender drivers that waved enthusiastically when we passed by; they understand.

More like this

Land Rover range going electric

Jaguar Land Rover has announced a new global strategy that will see the Land Rover brand release six pure electric variants through its Range Rover, Discovery and Defender families, with the first all-electric variant arriving in 2024.

Early pick for car of the year!

As I'm writing this review in early December, I’d like to make a prediction – the new Land Rover Defender should win the New Zealand Car of The Year title.

Sure to blaze a UK trail

News noted last year that the price of the Land Rover Discovery 6 was right up there, perhaps too high to get the vehicle out onto farms. 

Defender designed with NZ in mind

Can-am off-road vehicles' reputation for performance and durability stems from its heritage of building snowmobiles for the Arctic Circle and the wildernesses of Canada.

Still turning many heads

The saying goes “the only good thing to come out of Birmingham (UK) is the M6 motorway”, but just a few miles down the road in the heart of the Industrial Revolution, is Solihull, the home of the Land Rover.


Deer farmer's roaring success

Southland elk farmer Tom May is no stranger to producing top quality velvet and believes that his Mayfield Elk Farm,…

The beginning - not end!

After seven years, the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) came to an end on 31 March, yet chair Malcolm Bailey…

Machinery & Products

SIAFD wins punters' plaudits

After celebrating its 70th year last month, it looks like the South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD) has hit its…

Opens up blindspots

Traditionally blind spots caused by large buckets or front mounted loads on wheeled loaders have been a major safety concern.

She's one big feeder

Feeder specialists Hustler has released a maxi-sized multi-feeder aimed at large scale farms in New Zealand and further afield.

Roots out problems

Austrian manufacturer Pöttinger has introduced the new Durastar narrow share for its Synkro and Synkro-T, mounted stubble cultivators.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Blue murder

OPINION: Your old mate recently read an off-the-wall suggestion, by some boffin, that deliberately staining meat blue will lead to…

Foot in mouth - again!

OPINION: This old mutt reckons Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor too often suffers from 'foot in mouth' disease.

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter