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In-depth reviews

Land Rover Defender review – an icon reborn

The Defender isn’t a typical evo car, but it's something we’d gladly have sat in the garage next to one

Evo rating
Price
from £63,585
  • A clever, forward-looking reboot of the original
  • Heavy; expensive; petrols are thirsty

It’s not the car that will appear on many, if any, evo reader’s list of dream cars for a dream drive, but we’ve always said that the thrill of driving comes in all shapes and sizes, on and off road. The new Defender might share a name and lineage with Land Rover’s iconic workhorse, but its technical make-up is very different this time around, ditching the old-school ladder-frame chassis for a thoroughly modern aluminium-heavy monocoque. 

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It’s available in 90, 110 and 130 guise, the Defender range has expanded since it was first introduced in 2021, and and there's pretty much a model for every use case. Fancy a straight-six diesel load-lugger, or an eight-seater with an unhinged supercharged V8? The Defender has you covered.

The result is a versatile, capable and pleasant SUV to roam around in. A perfect example of what’s achievable when you set out to design and build a car fit for the purpose it’s meant for. 

> Best performance SUVs 2024 – the only evo-approved off-roaders

Land Rover Defender: in detail

  • Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > Ingenuim petrols and diesels make up the core range, with a stonking supercharged V8 topping the tree
  • Performance and 0-60 time > Performance is typically blunted by mass, but all engines have enough shove. The V8 version can hit 60mph in less than 5sec
  • Ride and handling > Its brilliance lies in off-road capability and on-road comfort, but it’s come at a cost of dynamism
  • MPG and running costs > Diesels all sit between 28 and 30mpg, petrols are more like 20-24mpg. Plug-in models will do 109mpg – if you believe the spec sheet
  • Interior and tech > Rugged, capacious, versatile and stylish all at once
  • Design > A clever interpretation of a classic Land Rover design

Prices, specs and rivals

Having had time to bed into the market, the Defender range is now as diverse as the terrain it’s able to tackle. There are no less than eight different engine options and fifteen different trim levels, and three body styles.

Pricing between the different specifications covers a vast range. A Defender 90 D250 with steel wheels is priced from £51,745, and expands to an eye-watering £117,750 for the V8-engined Carpathian Edition. Adding extra kit like deployable side steps, bodywork protection and an electric winch can easily add another £5000-10,000 on top of the basic price. 

With so many models available, natural rivals could be anything from a mid-spec Toyota Hilux right through to the £131,335 Mercedes G-class, not to mention more traditional family SUVs such as Land Rover’s own Discovery 5 or even an Audi Q7. When considered against the G, the Defender feels light years ahead, despite the transformational driving characteristics Mercedes instilled in it following its comprehensive overhaul in 2018. While many conventional SUVs beat the Defender for in the luxury stakes, very few do for off-road performance or outright charm. 

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