Land Rover Defender (1983-2016) review – design

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

Unquestionably the Defender is iconic and it’s easy to love on looks alone. Formed from utility it’s an exposed rivet and screw, wavy panelled old tool with girders for bumpers that’s as simple as a hammer and as useful as one, too. We’re all familiar with it, but with it going out of production soon there will be no more to replace those that have been crashed or thrashed to the point of destruction, or merely rotted to the point of uneconomical repair.

Its successor has gone some of the way to recreating the charm of the original, however its shared architecture with other Land Rover models has kept it from being a direct reference to the original like a Jeep Wrangler or the new Ford Bronco. 

For most non-farmer customers, the Defender's charm is derived from its design, or rather lack of it. There's something undeniably attractive to a machine that's been deftly designed, but is far from being considered styled. It's something the new Defender can't get away with suggesting, and while it has it's own definite appeal, for most a classic Defender will be the only Defender. 

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