Land Rover Defender (1983-2016) review – performance and 0-60 time

An all time classic

Evo rating
Price
from £25,000
  • Utilitarian icon that demands every bit of your attention to drive
  • Utterly exhausting to drive, ancient, leaky and hopeless on road

Land Rover dropped a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine borrowed from the Ford Transit under the bonnet of the Defender in 2012. To fit, that bonnet needed a bulge on top, but don’t go thinking it’s a power one. The maximum output is hardly heady at 120bhp, which, given you’re hauling around something akin to a Victorian iron bridge, doesn’t make for rapid progress. Unsurprisingly then, Land Rover keeps quiet about the acceleration time, which is 15.8 seconds (0-62mph) in the shorter '90' model, or 17 seconds in the 110.

Torque is more important here, the Defender’s four-cylinder turbodiesel producing 265lb ft at a usefully low 2000rpm. That torque doesn’t hang around for long though, meaning you’ll be busy with the gearbox to keep it moving. Barn-like aerodynamics, iron-laden weight and a fair amount of mechanical drag mean the Defender is all out of ideas by 90mph, though you’ll need a very long straight and have to be fairly brave to wind it up to its maximum.

Refinement and that fear will temper your enthusiasm for any high-speed attempts and despite Land Rover’s claim of putting acoustic dampening under the bonnet, the diesel four’s a percussive unit. Factor in excessive wind roar, transmission whine, road noise and vague responses from the steering and brakes and you’ll be happy it’s not quick. Indeed, the only way you could make it any slower is to add a horsebox or boat, as many do, as the Defender is able to haul about 3500kg (braked) - if you’re happy to drive around causing a mobile roadblock. 

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