Since the debut of the Land Rover Defender 63 years ago at the Amsterdam Motor Show, the Defender quickly earned a reputation as one of the most rugged and versatile off road vehicles in the world. A reputation that the Defender still carries today, even as the vehicle has evolved with time.
Earlier this month in Gaydon, Warwickshire, Land Rover unveiled the 2012 version of the Defender which will feature two new individual option packs as well as a new 2.2 litre diesel engine. It is claimed to be the cleanest diesel engine ever fitted to the Defender.
The new engine features a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to ensure the lowest possible levels of regulated emission, a new full acoustic engine cover which replaces the previous splash cover. This reduces radiated engine noise and improves driving refinement while meeting EU5 regulations. The lower levels of the regulated emissions, NOx, CO and HC are thanks to an improved combustion system and sophisticated engine management system.
Despite the smaller capacity and reduced emissions, the new engine produces the same power, 90kW at 3500rpm and torque 360Nm at 2000rpm, as the outgoing 2.4 engine. Performance remains similar too, though the top speed has been raised from 132 kmh to 145 kmh.
The GFT MT 82 six speed gearbox with its excellent ratio spread, high top gear for cruising and low speed for crawling capability has been retained for 2012. The lower first gear offers low crawl speed making towing on road and off road so much easier. Whilst low down engine torque also helps in gear acceleration and the tall sixth gear ensures excellent real world cruising, refinement and fuel economy. Ground gears in both the gearbox and transfer box help contribute to the refinement of the transmission.
Defender 2012 also has two new option packs added. The Comfort Pack consists of Air Conditioning, CD player with auxiliary input, electric windows and remote central locking and an Off Road Pack with ABS, Heavy Duty Rims and MTR tyres, tow ball and under ride protection bar.
In response to customer feedback, a plain black Pick Up hood will be available as an option, whilst a plain beige hood will be introduced for the 110 Double Cabs. Both options are an addition to existing styles. Another enhancement for 2012 is the inclusion of tinted glass for all models .
The Defender’s facia is based on a single, large moulding supported on a robust steel rail to eliminate squeaks and rattles. All the instruments provide clear, concise information to the driver and details like all – LED instrument illumination helps ensure high standards of reliability. Versatile storage shelves are conveniently located for both the driver and passenger and two console options are available – a practical open tray and a large, lidded design that provides an impressive 14 litres of storage.
A powerful heating and ventilation system is designed to cope with the most extreme climates and features aluminum plate and fin heat exchangers to deliver impressive performance.
Tall front seats are designed to improve maximum back support and head restraint ergonomics in the most demanding driving conditions and there are robust, supportive second row seats too. 110 Station Wagon and 130 Crew Cab models can comfortably accommodate three occupants on an asymmetrically-split second row seat. A spring-assisted fold mechanism helps when folding the seats for carrying large or awkward loads.
Defender 90 Station Wagon second row occupants benefit from a pair of individual, full-size, forward-facing rear seats. Providing excellent comfort levels, these seats are also available as a third row option on the 110 Station Wagon. Accessed either through the rear door or by folding the second row seats, they can be easily folded and stowed sideways in the load space.
Seat trims include durable all-vinyl and cloth specifications; a half-leather option is also available to add a touch of luxury to the cabin. Three-point safety belts are specified for all seating positions.
Defender's unique vehicle architecture has been retained for 2012. The chassis frame is available in three different wheelbases and in both standard and heavy-duty guise (for even greater load-bearing capabilities). A total of 14 separate body styles - from pick-ups and soft-tops to crew cabs and station wagons - are produced on the mainstream production line. Beyond this, Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations team offer a range of products from standard drop-side or box-body conversions to bespoke design and build adaptations for ambulances, mobile hydraulic platforms and even airport fire tenders - all of which are covered by Land Rover's extensive warranty.
The 2012 Land Rover Defender will be arriving in South Africa towards the end of October.
Roy Griffiths - Land Rover Experience Gerotek & Inchanga
Please note that model specifications might differ from country to country