You may find this difficult to believe but the Land Rover Defender has quite a bit in common with the Porsche 911. Land Rover and the Porsche 356 each started life in 1948. Fast forward to 2013 and the latest Land Rover Defender and the Porsche 911 are immediately identifiable from the shapes of those 65 year-old predecessors.
Neither Land Rover or Porsche mess too much with the Defender or Porsche 911 shape for fear of buyer backlash. These random thoughts ran through our mind as we collected a 2013 Land Rover Defender 110 for our weekly road test and review.
Defender is a vehicle that you will either like or hate. There is no middle ground. It is built for a purpose and that is to provide transport to places not normally accessible to people in any soft roader or even some of the genuine 4WDs. Compromise is not part of the Defender DNA.
Land Rover has done a great job of making the Defender 110 as refined as possible for running on the black top. The ride is good given the vehicle's real purpose.
The gearchange is stubborn, but once underway you just leave it be, relying on that surfeit of torque. Driving a Landie at speed is a lesson in restraint; anything much over 50mph and the 4x4 bounces around, needing constant steering correction through the huge, spindly wheel like you're playing BA Baracus from the A-Team. The 90mph top speed is best left untouched, the 110 preferring a more leisurely pace.
And once you accept the Defender's dynamic deficiencies - on road, at least - everything clicks into place. This car is loved by people who admire its different qualities: the fact that it'll run forever (buy one of the last models and it'll likely 'see you out'), its practical load-lugging abilities, the fact that you'll never get stuck in bad weather ever again. Not to mention the sheer charm of it.
It'll also tow a 3.5-tonne braked trailer, you can stack up to 150kg of clobber on the roofrack and you get a full-sized, hilariously-profiled Continental CrossContact AT 235/85 R16 spare wheel on the side-hinged back door. Praise too for the delightfully rugged rubber floor; how many other cars can you simply hose out nowadays after a muddy family walk?