The legend lives on
Visitors to Auto Africa 2006 will get a first taste of what to expect when the 2007 Land Rover Defender goes on sale next year.
The iconic off-roader has set the benchmark in extreme 4×4 capability for well over 50 years and remains a core member of the Land Rover model range. A comprehensive package of improvements for 2007 provide an even greater depth of dynamic ability, together with enhanced comfort and refinement levels.
What has not changed is the styling: the Defender’s trademark chunky body is as much part of the 4×4 legend’s personality as its uncanny ability to overcome even the toughest obstacles. However, Defender connoisseurs will spot the revised bonnet profile as a subtle visual clue to the vehicle’s revised status.
Primary among the under-the-skin changes is the presence of a completely new 2,4-litre common-rail turbodiesel engine. The new power unit offers better driveability, refinement and sheer pulling power compared to the outgoing Td5.
The 2 401 cc in-line four-cylinder unit produces 90 kW of maximum power at 3 500 r/min, together with a torque peak of 360 Nm at 2 000 r/min.
More than 90 percent of the power maximum is available across a broad power band from 2 200 to 4 350 r/min, while some 315 Nm of the torque total remains on offer from 1 500 to 2 700 r/min, ensuring exceptional tractability.
The engine complies with the latest EU4 emissions standards when running on high-quality diesel fuel, but will also tolerate high-sulphur diesel, in line with its status as a global product.
The new engine is linked to a new six-speed manual gearbox, which allows a wider range of ratios: first gear is lower to reduce crawl speeds, while top gear is 20 percent taller to boost cruising refinement and fuel economy. The increased engine torque boosts in-gear acceleration and allows brisker dynamics.
Land Rover engineers have customised the response map of the electronic throttle for each individual gear to optimise throttle progression and control, while an improved anti-stall control extends the Defender’s ability to traverse seemingly impossible terrain even further.
The interior execution extends the theme of significant improvement set by the revised drivetrain. An all-new fascia looks more attractive, but also vastly improves ergonomics, while still reflecting the inimitable Defender character. It’s also built to last, employing a one-piece moulding mounted on a robust steel rail.
The new fascia allows the installation of a new ventilation and heating system that significantly improves cabin airflow and performance. The system offers much better heating and cooling capabilities, and operates far quicker and more efficiently than before.
The 2007 Defender is equipped with redesigned front seats with a taller backrest for better support and comfort, while the rear seats are also new. Defender 90 second row occupants are now accommodated in two individual, full size front-facing seats, while Defender 110 and 130 models come with a new, asymmetrically split second row seat.
An optional third seat row, comprising two, individual forward-facing seats can be installed in Defender 110 models. The seats fold up and are stowed along the sides when not in use.
On the move, the most significant improvement to the Defender is the overall gain in refinement, thanks to improved noise insulation and the quieter operation of the new common-rail turbodiesel engine.
However, enhanced performance on and off the road, including vastly improved cruising capability, also sets the latest Defender apart from its predecessors, and will do much to cement its legendary status.
“These changes represent a significant vote of confidence in a product which is the foundation of Land Rover’s reputation for off-road excellence,” says Land Rover managing director
Phil Popham. “We believe these enhancements will win the hearts and the minds of new
and existing customers alike.”