2012 Land Rover Defender review

  • Rugged off-roader gets new engine
  • Three wheelbase sizes, 14 bodystyles
  • On sale now from £20,995
What is it? Land Rover's workhorse, the Defender, has been updated for 2012, with the main changes concerned with ensuring it complies with Euro V emissions regulations.

A new 2.2-litre diesel engine replaces the 2.4-litre in the current Defender. Power, torque and economy remain unchanged, however, and the 2012 Defender won't be up for any eco awards, with CO2 emissions starting at 265g/km for the 90 wheelbase models.

The new engine and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) enable the car to meet EU5 emissions regulations for Nitrous Oxide, Carbon Monoxide and Hydrocarbon emissions.

While many modern diesel particulate filters require the car to be run regularly at high speeds to prevent them from clogging, Land Rover's DPF has been designed to remain clear even with consistent low-speed running – handy if your Defender is plugging around the farm or country estate.

What's it like to drive? Take the Defender into the roughest of rough and you'll be amazed by what it can do.

On the road, it's a different story. The engine is noisy, but still only just manages to drown out the din kicked up by the tyres.

The Defender bounces around all over the place, and has to take corners at a fairly pedestrian rate. The steering is slow and you'll need Popeye-like biceps to change gear.

What's it like inside? Basic. You have to adjust your body to the Defender's driving position, when in most modern cars it's the other way around.

At least the dash is simple and instinctive to use, with the heating and ventilation controls placed together.

The Defender is an incredibly versatile car, because you can tailor it to your specific needs. The three wheelbase sizes (90, 110 and 130) come with a range of 14 bodystyles, including pick-ups, station wagons and soft-tops. They can be specified with between two and seven forward-facing seats, depending on which version you choose. All provide terrific boot space.

A new option pack is available for 2012, which includes luxuries such as air-conditioning, CD Player with auxiliary input, electric windows and remote central locking. The Comfort Pack costs £1650.

Should I buy one? If you need a rugged 4x4 that will take you into the wildest of wildernesses, yes. If you require a modicum of refinement, comfort and economy from your vehicle, then the answer's a resounding no.

The verdict below may seem harsh to those who do use the Defender to the maximum of its capabilities regularly, but there are any number of more-modern 4x4s that will make better buys.

Rivals
Jeep Wrangler
Land Rover Discovery

What Car? says…


Iain.Reid@whatcar.com
 
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