Land Rover Defender special Heritage and Adventure editions
Square lines and bustling with a go-anywhere attitude, the Land Rover Defender has become an icon since first released in 1948.
Post-war, it was tank-like in durability and aptitude. The English workhorse quickly became loved and respected and a common ally for explorers, scientists, farmers and anyone with a sense of adventure.
From the early days it remained largely unchanged and surpassed the VW Beetle on the way to being the world’s longest continuous production vehicle. Some two million were produced at the car-maker’s Solihull plant.
Land Rover Defender Heritage - true to its origins. Photo / Supplied
Throughout it retained the same nomenclature, 90, 110 and 130 (which stands for inches). While maintaining the styling and ability has pleased the pundits, it hasn’t kept pace with modern safety or environmental expectations.
The last Defender has now rolled off the production line, but sales went gangbusters over the past year, which included Heritage and Adventure special editions.
While the Heritage is minimalist and designed as an interpretation to the first offering, the Adventure has some serious mod-cons and extras designed to make the most of its hardcore mud-plugging prowess.
Land Rover Defender Adventure. Picture/ Supplied.
The Alpine stereo and front electric window buttons are modern beacons amidst old-school operations. For anyone who has been driving for more than decade, there will be no confusion surrounding the dash operations and manual window winders in the longer wheelbase variants.
Yet for newcomers to the automotive game they may well struggle coming to terms with the minimalist approach.
One button for air-conditioning, horizontal sliding controls for fan speed and a circular dial for temperature mix. That’s about it.
The 90 has only two doors up front, so getting in the back means climbing through the rear door, yet the seats are regarded only as “occasional use”.
Climbing inside can take some effort. The 250mm clearance can mean a climbing battle for skirt wearers or those with limited flexibility.
Heritage editions come with a green dash fascia to match the external colour scheme, whereas the Adventures get some groovier finishes and even plush leather trim. Leather in a Defender — who would have thought?
Land Rover Defender Adventure special edition. Picture/Supplied.
Rarely these days do you find an operation manual thinner than the Old Testament. Not in the Defender, but corner with extra enthusiasm and you’ll soon be saying “oh God”.
Especially in the short wheelbase 90 Heritage, it can feel somewhat unwieldy until you become comfortable with its ability (or lack thereof).
Steering the Defender can take some effort. You are at the helm of a small truck, and it feels like it. Parking can be challenging and it takes some practice to get the approaches spot-on.
Providing the power is a 2.2-litre diesel which can muster only 90kW, but has a useful 360Nm of torque. You won’t be entering any quarter mile contests, but the Defender does a reasonable job on the highway and is reasonably thrifty on fuel courtesy of the six-speed manual box. Off road is where the Defender does its best work. The Heritage edition is almost too pretty to be sullied, but there is no doubting the ability of both offerings.
Outstanding entry and departure angles, low range and the sizable ride height make easy work of the road less travelled.
The Land Rover Defender Adventure special edition, in orange. Picture/Supplied.
The Heritage gets the “Grasmere green” metallic paintwork and white roof, old-school grille and headlamps, HUE 166 graphics on the side which are a tribute to the inaugural registration (hence its nickname Huey), almond cloth upholstery with vinyl sides and backs, CD stereo with Bluetooth connectivity and Heritage logo rubber floor mats.
Adventure models come in orange, white or grey, with a black grille, wheel arches, bonnet, roof, and rear door, special bonnet, gloss black alloys, leather trim, extra underbody treatment and Ebony Alston headlining.
The doors take some effort when closing, climbing in and out becomes part of your daily exercise regime, and even the station wagon doesn’t have much leg and knee room in the second row.
The 110 does have excellent boot space, and when rolling the rear seats forward we fit two adult bikes standing upright.
Invoking smiles and attention from onlookers young and old, it was the Heritage which proved crowd favourite.
Driving the Defender was nostalgically enjoyable. Unlike most cars nowadays, you really have to drive. Concentrate on the steering, time the gear shifts and corner with precision.
They are not for everyone, but Landie lovers will be frothing at the concept.