Land Rover Defender long-term test: report 2

Huge waiting lists underline how popular the Land Rover Defender is, but does it have the all-round ability and feel-good factor to justify its high price? We're living with one to find out...

Land Rover Defender on road

The car Land Rover Defender 90 D300 HSE Run by Jim Holder, editorial director

Why it’s here Can Land Rover’s reinvented icon really live up to the hype?

Needs to deliver Capability and practicality on and off-road as standard, plus enough wow factor to justify the £66,000 price tag

Mileage 1901 List price £58,875 Target Price £58,875 Price as tested £66,450 Official economy 31.1mpg Test economy 29.3mpg

11 February 2022 – It must be love

Smitten. If there’s one word to describe how I feel about the Land Rover Defender, that’s it – for good and bad. It is in oh-so many ways utterly beguiling, chiefly to look at, drive and live everyday life with. But it's also impractical because of the step up to get in, its dimensions and my choice of three doors rather than five. Finally, there's the fact that it comes at an eye-watering sticker price. And yet… smitten.

One of the highlights has been learning to live with this Defender's three-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine. It was a controversial choice given the reputation of diesels these days, but one I would struggle to argue against given its performance, the environmental credentials of modern engines in the face of toughest-ever legislation, and relative economy. (And it is 'relative', because I’ve yet to eke out more than 30mpg, even now its mileage is firmly into the ‘run in’ territory.) 

Land Rover Defender long-termer

Yes, it has its quirks, none more so than the seeming pause between revs rising and the car moving away from a standstill. It’s a pause that can feel unnerving at first, but which in a short space of time you forget was ever there, as you learn to anticipate it. When it goes, it really goes too. A 2.2-tonne car hitting 62mph from a standstill in 8.0sec is faintly absurd, but the engine and automatic gearbox provide surging power seemingly effortlessly.

Little wonder that, for now, all I want to do is drive it. All cars have limits, but so far I’ve yet to expose many that have permanently dented my enthusiasm for the Defender. Clearly I need to do more miles, in towns, on A-roads and motorways, and even down green lanes and in quarries, to give it a harder test – and I can't wait. 

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