Motoring and Property Editor
1:00 AM 10th February 2024
Land Rover Defender 130 – A Yorkshire Test
It has been a while since I got behind the wheel of the Land Rover Defender and I had forgotten how good they are. I’ve tested both petrol and diesel engines, in both 90 (short wheelbase) and 110 (long wheelbase) guises.
However, if biggest is best, then the latest 130 model will take some beating. The extra length is immediately obvious, and it turns the Defender into a people-carrier par excellence, with seating for eight adults.
However, there is also an ‘Outbound’ variant which currently sits on my driveway, awaiting collection. It eschews the extra row of seating for an enormous load space, almost 50-inches in length from the rear door to the seat backs. The rear glass is replaced by metal panels which is the biggest giveaway.
So, let’s get all the facts and figures out of the way first:
Land Rover 130 Outbound
Carpathian Grey metallic paint
Price from £78115 (£93,175 as tested)
300hp MHEV diesel engine
8-speed automatic gearbox
0-60mph in 7.1seconds
Top speed 119mph
Combined economy 32.1mpg
Emissions – 231g/km CO2
On one of the days the Defender was in my custody I had engagements in the North East, which meant a 300-mile day would be on the cards. Not only was the ‘130’ a refined and capable motorway cruiser, but it also handled the twisty stiff with aplomb. Body roll is modest, and the raised driving position allows for millimetre positioning on some of the narrow lanes that made up much of the journey. Ride comfort is excellent too, with only the very deepest craters catching the suspension out on occasions.
Considering the Defender is no lightweight, performance from that powerful diesel engine was somewhat exhilarating and using that power was certainly addictive. Excellent traction, a given of course, and a smooth automatic gearbox add to the driving experience. The trip computer showed 28mpg, a fair result from one so large, though admittedly with only two passengers on board.
The Defender boasts plenty of space for five adults to travel in comfort and wide opening rear doors means easy access to the rear perches. They are comfortable too, and with the panoramic glass roof, there is plenty of natural light.
Boot space is simply massive, this Outbound version being ideally suited perhaps for the working owner, or someone who regularly slings mountain bikes and the like on board. Personally, I would choose the eight-seat version for more flexibility.
Ensuring that rear visibility is not compromised, the ‘ClearSight’ interior rear-view mirror uses a camera to show what is behind. It gives a wide-angled view but does take some getting used to.
Whilst not exactly a hose out interior, wipe clean plastics and rubber floor mats should be easy to clean. The 14-way heated and cooled memory front seats proved to be extremely comfortable, with many long hours at the wheel being accomplished without complaint from my ageing body.
All the latest tech is fitted as standard in this top model, with the 10-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen proving intuitive to use and quick to respond. The adaptive cruise control helped take some of the strain out of the long motorway slogs and proved to be less nervy than some systems.
I have recently spent some time with the Ineos Grenadier, a vehicle which clearly set out to replace the old Land Rover Defender. It is extremely capable off-road but is undoubtedly less adapt on it. It is less techy, preferring levers and buttons to set the vehicle up for the terrain.
The modern Defender is just as capable in difficult conditions, ably demonstrated by some heavy snow that fell during the recent test period. All that is required is a simple twist of a dial and clever electronics do the rest (rather well in fact).
However, on the road the Grenadier and latest Defender are poles apart. The former has vague steering and too much body roll to ever be any fun, whilst the Land Rover’s sharper dynamics allow the driver to press on and cover ground really quickly, whilst cossetting up to eight people on board. It is a class act and in my opinion Jaguar Land Rover’s best product.
If I was looking for a replacement for my elderly Toyota Landcruiser, I could easily see myself behind the wheel of a new Defender. It strikes the right note and manages to be bang up to date, yet with a definite nod to what has gone before. Clearly now aimed at an affluent clientele who lead an active life, the new Defender in any guise will doubtless please and is undoubtedly the rural 4x4 to be seen in.