Land Rover Defender (1983-2016) review – engine and gearbox

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

There was just one engine and one gearbox at the end of its life, including the low-ratio transfer case that helps the Defender do its stuff in the rough. It’s all very agricultural and, aptly, it's likely that a good number of Defenders will use farm-only red diesel too. The 2.2-litre four-cylinder unit just about manages to haul the Defender around, but it’s far from cultured, which, given its ancient situation, isn’t so out of place.

The gearbox at least has the modernity to offer six ratios, but that’s about where the civilised world's influence ends. Shifting across the gate is lengthy, while the whole process is pretty vague and reliant on patience and guesswork. Add a clutch that needs farmer’s weight wellingtons to push it and driving the Defender is a physical, tiring effort that rewards with very little in the way of brisk forward progress. It’ll get you anywhere, admittedly, just not in a hurry, or comfortably.

 Find used Land Rover Defender's for sale on the Classic and Performance Car site here.

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