It’s easy to underestimate the Defender from the outside. It looks like a big, boxy truck, and you would almost expect it to drive like one. But only it doesn’t. The 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine features twincharging, with an electrically powered supercharger for the lower half of the engines range and a turbocharger for the upper half. It’s a mild hybrid powertrain, where a battery pack is used to power the electrical accessories in the car, taking some load off the engine.
There’s 400 horsepower available from the engine, and the peak torque of 550Nm is available from just 2,000rpm to 5,000rpm. By comparison, a base model Porsche 911 Carrera has just 385hp.
An eight-speed automatic and Land Rover’s clever all-wheel drive system gives the car plenty of traction, and for slower, precision offroad driving the car’s final drive ratio can be shifted to a low-range with a button press. In the old days, you’d have to manually wiggle a second gear lever to do that.
It’s given up the solid axles of the original, which were tough but did not always offer a smooth ride, for fully independent suspension, and the monocoque chassis ensures that even though the Defender may look somewhat truck-like, it doesn’t feel and drive like one.
It’s very impressive on the road, and the adaptive suspension is very good at judging the car’s movements. It almost seems like the harder you drive it, the better the car gets. It’s not as dynamic as a Porsche Cayenne, but it’s a lot more agile than its size and shape suggests.
There’s practically no lean as the car dives into a corner, with the suspension dampers firming up to keep the car tracking true without feeling like it’s going to tip over. You can actually fly through corners very quickly in this car and it never loses its composure. There’s a lot of range in the engine, and it will outpace many mid range sports cars with ease. The driver’s view of the road is commanding, and the ride on the highway is as good as any other luxury SUV you can find now.