Since Land Rover discontinued its iconic Defender model in 2016, fans of the workhorse vehicle have been eagerly waiting to see what sort of vehicle would replace it. While nothing has rolled off the line yet, Defender lovers have been gifted a limited production version of their old standby. For just under $200K, Land Rover will source a Defender for you and completely refurbish it, complete with a few upgrades. The team at the plant in Solihull, UK built 150 of the reworked Defenders by hand, and they’ve all been claimed. But, if you can find someone willing to part with one, here’s what you’d be getting:
Are these just the same old Defenders with a facelift?
Not at all. The team at Solihull had very strict standards for the Defenders that they used for the project. Each one had to be a 2012 or newer, with less than 20K miles, so with this refurb, it’s way more than a cosmetic job. The base vehicles had to be in nearly pristine condition, so the team could strip them down to their base components and execute a complete rebuild.
So it’s got a V8?
Yes! And it's not just any V8. Each Defender Works comes with a Jaguar 5.0 liter V8 that delivers 400hp and 380 lbs of torque. The dual-speed transfer box deploys 90% of that available torque to either the front or rear axle as needed, so you’ve got a lot of power to work with.
But does it go fast?
Now, the top speed is only 106, but owning a Defender isn’t about going fast. Defenders are utility vehicles, meant for hard work and durability. One major improvement, though, is in the shifting time. An 8 speed ZF automatic transmission gives these new Defenders 200 millisecond shifting time, a huge improvement on their predecessors.
How does it handle?
Well, suffice to say, it won’t be doing the Indy 500 anytime ever. Then again, you don’t buy a Defender for its cornering ability. Taking turns at high speed isn’t for the faint of heart. Test drivers say that it’s best to slow before heading into the turns and accelerate out of them. Keep in mind, though, if you’re too aggressive on the throttle, it’ll try to spin all four wheels.
So no racetrack, but what about the ride?
Here’s where test drivers note a huge departure from the original Defenders. These refurbished models are quiet and smooth, even with the F-Type shifting. The F-Type normally makes its presence known, but in this case, the shifting is like a hot knife through butter. When it’s in semi-auto mode, it’s capable of executing hard, quick shifts.
What about safety?
That’s a little more mid-century, and we mean mid 20th century. There are no backup cameras, airbags or side impact safety features. As far as safety goes; you’ve got a seatbelt, mirrors, ABS, and your judgment. Of all the things to keep 100% retro, Land Rover chose the safety features.