LAND ROVER DEFENDER
It’s a great ad for not only its maker but the forgotten fuel, too.
Diesel: so much maligned these past years that it’s now on the cusp of becoming the minority powertrain of new car sales, long eclipsed by electric cars, soon to be eclipsed by plug-in hybrids and heading for the file labelled ‘history’. Yet here I am, driving around in a car powered by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine – and I couldn’t make a case for anything more suitable.
It’s powerful, smooth, refined, relatively economical (at around 30.0mpg) considering the Defender’s 2.2-tonne weight and, dare I say it, while acknowledging the life-threatening shortcomings of what it emits, relatively clean, given the toughest-ever emissions tests that it must now pass. everything almost every owner could ever want, and any improvements, in terms of performance, economy, emissions or suchlike, can only be delivered with serious compromises from one to the other. In my view, the petrol or PHEV variants are likely to suit only very specific use cases. You might make a case that, living on the outskirts of London and commuting regularly into a built-up area, a PHEV would suit me better.
Maybe, just maybe, some of the time that could be true – but even my short commute would probably be a challenge for its all-electric range, and my occasional 100-to-300- mile trips further afield would be catastrophic in terms of economy. In a car of this size and with such bluff aerodynamics, I can’t believe petrol would be a strong choice for anyone but the lowest-mileage drivers, either. And if you are going to drive low miles,I’d suggest the Defender mightnot be the car for you at all, unless you’re a total show-off with an ego only the V8 can satisfy.
So diesel it is, and diesel I’d recommend. Aside from a short pause at step-off (a Land Rover characteristic), it offers layers of power and torque, taking the Defender from 0-62mph in a scarcely believable 8.0sec, but more crucially also giving total flexibility in tricky conditions(yes, Matt Prior has been offroading, of which more anothertime) as well as keeping fuel bills manageable. It’s even pretty refined – certainly more so than you might expect from something paired to a car with such humble roots. Do I expect all buyers to follow suit and opt for diesel? No, I don’t. But for those who are wavering, despite still being less than 2000 miles into my time with the car, I have no hesitation in recommending feeling at ease with going against the wider trend. Diesel isn’t dead yet, and this car is the perfect example of why