The 2007 Defender has lost none of its off road capabilities
The iconic shape of the Defender remains intact
America Calling – Send Us the ’07 Defender
By Jeffrey Aronson
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will shortly arrive for the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown colony and the Kentucky Derby. I’ve already requested that they include a 2007 Defender in the royal baggage.
Their last trip was in 1991; within two years, we had the Defender 110 NAS. Just in case history should repeat itself, put your order in now.
Consider grant theft auto. Think about illegal importation. Find a good lawyer now. Whatever it takes, this car is worth the risk. My shameless display ofillegal behavior was matched only by the mewling and whining I undertook in a failed effort to get Rovers North to send me to England to test drive the latest Defender. Neither groveling nor begging moved the cold hearts of Westford. That’s forced me to drool over my laptop’s keyboard as I’ve gathered information on this latest incarnation of the iconic vehicle.
Sixty years ago the Wilks brothers led the team that set down the basic elements of the Land Rover, a “stopgap” vehicle meant to bring in some cash while Rover geared up for postwar car production. Rover created an impressively strong frame underneath, lightweight aluminum alloy panels above, long-travel and rugged suspension, mated to an high torque engine and strong transmission with a two-range transfer case. It would go anywhere and accomplish most anything that you needed a machine to do. Over the decades, leaf springs gave way to coil springs, disc brakes replaced drum brakes, Panhard rods and radius arms secure the live axles. The wheelbase has grown all of 12 inches for the smaller model, and up to 23 inches for the longest wheelbase models. As a mobile tool, no other vehicle proved as rugged and long-lived. The Defender has long ceased to be treated as a car, regardless of what legislators think, but as a vehicle unique to itself.
England’s Channel 4 commented that “'Heritage' is a much-abused term in the motor industry, but the Defender is one of the few cars that can lay claim to it. It's also strangely classless: though generally associated with the huntin' and shootin' set, the Defender's also a true working-class tool, especially in pick-up form. Green wellies, tweed caps, corduroy trousers and black Labradors are optional, but it does look out of place in the city.”
The 2007 Defender remains true to its marque values but continuous improvement make it even more delectable than before. Changes have been modest since the model took over for the Series III in 1983. For 2007 the stylist’s eye will note a taller bonnet line and the absence of the name “Defender” on the front. The newest one says proudly “Land Rover.” Under the new aluminum bonnet is a new 2.4 liter diesel, a Ford-based commercial unit adapted for the extreme off road use common to Defenders. It’s the only engine available on any Defender. It’s a common-rail, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that puts out similar horsepower (122 hp) to the Tdi5, but virtually all of the torque comes on between 1,500 – 2,700 rpm. Farmer’s Guardian did the calculations; they claim that 90% of the “grunt” is available through 60% of the rpm range. There’s 266 lbs ft available at only 2000 rpm!
The new engine enjoys a new Getrag 6-speed manual transmission, so you can take advantage of this wider torque curve. The new transmission also permits a lower first gear and a higher 6th gear for highway driving. First gear is now 5.44:1, fifth gear is now 1:1, and 6th gear is a true overdrive at 0.74. The final drive ratio is an ideal 3.54. Engine electronics limit the engine to 85 mph, but you’ll get there faster and quieter than ever. When it comes time to stop, your pedal foot will operate 4 disc brakes, vented up front, for more secure on road operation.
A jaundiced eye might also be cast at the scuttle on the top of the bulkhead; the much-beloved vents are gone. This is made possible by the vast improvements in the interior fitments. First off, the facia and dash comprise one piece of injection-molded plastic. The squeaks that always had you searching for mice, and the rattles that convinced you that loose tools rolled around your feet, are also gone. The heat really works now and there’s even an optional, truly functional air conditioner. You may not need it because the Defender finally has eyeball fresh-air vents, just like cars from the 1960’s. Instead of putting instruments in the center of the facia, Land Rover has placed large, easily identifiable switches and buttons where you would expect to find them. Optional packages include a center console, cupholders [!], an upgraded audio system, even MP3/iPod compatibility. Given the improved interior insulation, you can truly hear the music.
It’s still a narrow vehicle so your seats, which adjust a bit more than before, still rely on the door and electric window to help position you in cockpit. Autocar.UK noted that “the driving position remains appalling…elbow room is notable for its absence and leg room is right on the limit of comfortable.” In the Defender 90’s rear, EU regulations have forced the twin rear jump seats to face forward, not sideways. The seats will tip forward and fold sideways so as to leave plenty of room for work tools or play stuff. Again, EU regulations mean that you can’t have more than 7 seats; gone are the 10-seat and 12-seat possibilities of yesteryear.
The 2007 Defender offers 14 different body styles in wheelbases of 90 [actually 92.5”], 110, and 130 inches. You can enjoy a hard top [with or without side windows], the venerable station wagon, a double cab [crew cab], and pickup model. Land Rover Special Vehicles will still create or authorize ambulances, lifeboat haulers, tippers [dump bodies], or most anything else you’d want.
On or off road, the Defender will haul up to 3,500 kg while climbing steep or slippery hills. There’s no automatic transmission option nor does the Defender come with airbags, anywhere in the car. You can’t loll about in cruise control or watch a DVD player. Reflecting the popularity of Defenders amongst auto thieves, an alarm, an immobilizer and central locking is standard. The optional sunroof is manually operated. The exterior mirrors move only when you grab them with your hands and yank them in the right direction. The rear windows on the 90 still slide open and shut, just as they do on my ’66 Series II-A. For the UK market, you can still order rubber mats and take a hose to the interior. The clutch is reportedly as heavy as ever and the turning circle still rivals that of a Kenworth attached to a semi. Interior noise at 70 mph is 73 decibels, ____, but you can hear the standard audio system.
Autoinsider.com summarized the off road capabilities well. They wrote “The test course covered some of the toughest terrain – so steep, deep and undulating that you’d think twice about covering it on foot. Yet the Defender lapped it up, rocking from side to side over tree roots but plodding on unmoved. When it eventually came unstuck it was down to a lack of driver technique – it scaled the muddy slope on the forth attempt, despite each previous go making it more and more slippery. If you reach the limit of the Defender’s abilities, you’re either mad or very lost indeed.”
Autocar.uk observed that “off road, the domain it has ruled for nearly 60 years, the Defender is now more mind-meltingly able than ever. This is a car that will tackle a 45-degree slope going forwards or backwards. It will wade through water half a metre deep without modification and traverse a 35-degree hill. Its approach and departure angles are both an astounding 47 degrees. A Jeep Wrangler, perhaps its closest conceptual rival, offers just 38 and 32 degrees respectively. These extraordinary stats combine with its huge ground clearance and compact wheelbase to give rock-hopping qualities most alleged off-roaders simply couldn’t imagine. Low range, unswitchable traction control (optional with ABS) and differential locks complete the picture.”
The 2007 Defender is “a vehicle for farms, outbacks, jungles and deserts that, for all its flaws, has a very real role in the world today. It is better than ever at those things it needs to be good at, and as useless as it has always been at everything else.” Oh, yes, it still has a rear external power take-off.
Hello, Ford – this is America calling. Send us the Defender!
Here are the specifications for the Defender 90 (source – Autocar.UK):
How much ?
Price when new £26,135
Price as tested £26,220
0-30mph 4.5 sec
0-60mph 15.1 sec
0-100mph no data
0-150mph no data
0-200mph no data
30-70mph 17 sec
0-400m 20.2 / 68.3 sec/mph
0-1000m 37.7 / 79.4 sec/mph
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 5.5 / 7.2
40-60mph in 4th/5th 8.4 / 10.4 sec
50-70mph in 5th 12.8 sec
60-0mph 3.48 sec
Top speed no data
Noise at 70mph 73 dbA
Test average 19.3 mpg
Test best/worst 27.6 / 15.6
Combined/urban 28.2 / 23.7 mpg
CO2 emissions 282 g/km
Length 3883 mm
Width 1790 mm
Height 1963 mm
Wheelbase 2360 mm
Weight 1797 kg
Fuel tank 60.0 litres
Layout 4 cyls In Line , 2401 cc
Max power 120 bhp at 3500 rpm
Max torque 265 ft at 2000 rpm
Specific output 50bhp per litre bhp per litre
Power to weight 71bhp per tonne bhp per tonne
Installation F Longitudinal
Bore/stoke 89.9x94.6 mm
Compression ratio 17.5:1
Valve gear 4 per cyl
Ignition and fuel Common-rail injection. Variable geometry turbocharger. , Diesel
Type 6-speed Manual
1st 5.44 / 3.6
2nd 2.84 / 6.8
3rd 1.72 / 11.3
4th 1.22 / 15.9
5th 1 / 19.4
6th 0.74 / 26.2
Final drive 3.54
Front live beam axle, single rate coil springs, telescopic hydraulic dampers
Rear live beam axle, single rate coil springs, telescopic hydraulic dampers
Type power assisted, worm and roller
Lock to lock 3.40
Front no data
Rear no data
Wheel & tyres
Size front 5.5J x 16 in
Size rear 5.5J x 16 in
Made of no data
Tyres front 235/85 R16
Tyres rear 235/85 R16
Here are the specifications for the Defender 110/130 (source – Land Rover UK)