Land Rover Defender

The Essentials

  • Price from £21,410
  • What Car? says: 2 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 28.3mpg
  • What is it? Old-school 4x4 that's happiest out in the rough - just the thing for delivering hay to the flock.

Great

  • Off-road ability rivals tanks or sheep
  • Strong diesel engine
  • Driving position is just like that of a truck

Gripes

  • Vague handling
  • Horrible ride
  • Cramped and noisy
  • Drive

    Amazing ability when the going gets rough, but Tarmac is best avoided; deafening on the motorway

  • Inside

    Form loses out to function in a big way, but only truck drivers get a better view of the road

  • Safety

    No airbags unless you splash out, but it's built like a tank

  • Reliability

    Everything is super-simple so it won't let you down

  • Space

    Bags of room for just about anything and you choose the number of seats

  • Standard and extras

    For an expensive car, there isn't much thrown in; airbags, air-con and alloys are all extra

  • What's it like to drive?

    The Defender has been around pretty much since time began so, as Tarmac is a relatively recent invention, the car isn't brilliantly suited to driving on the black stuff. On motorways there's roar from the chunky tyre treads and the wind as it crashes into the cars brick-like profile, but avoid cornering at speed at all costs. However, show it a soggy Welsh hillside and nothing can touch its off-road ability. The strong diesel engine provides plenty of pull too, so towing trailers double its weight is a doddle.

  • What's it like inside?

    The utilitarian roots show up on the inside too, with a hose-down interior that's very farmer friendly. All of the controls are well laid out and easy to use. Behind the non-adjustable wheel, getting comfy isn't easy, but once you manage it there's a great view out. Versatility is this car's middle name, so passenger and luggage space can be big as you need: you choose depending on what you need the car for.

  • How reliable is it?

    With a proven Ford engine and very simple construction, the Defender is built to last. Tank-rivalling off-road ability is matched by a bulletproof build that means Defenders just keep on going, no matter what stands in their way. The interior quality is certainly a long way off the standards we've come to expect from the Range Rover and Discovery though, but at least there are no complex electronics to go wrong.

  • Should I buy one?

    Despite being a simple design, the Defender is expensive to buy and the level of standard kit is just plain mean. Like all 4x4s, the Defender's block-like aerodynamics don't help the fuel consumption either. These off-road workhorses are in demand though, so it'll keep its value better than more luxurious and road-friendly competitors.