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Iconic Defender matures.

Byline: By Robin Roberts

The iconic Land Rover Defender is definitely maturing with age. Some 59 years after the original was created, to raise much-needed funds for Rover and help British agriculture get back on its feet following the Second World War, the new 2007 Land Rover Defender goes on sale in the UK on April 16 with upgrades to make it better-equipped to meet modern day needs.

Under the distinctive bodywork is a new 2.4-litre common rail diesel engine, six-speed gearbox with wide ratio spread, fully integrated fascia, new seating configuration and high output heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system ( a luxury touch in a vehicle designed to champion the most inhospitable terrain imaginable.

These enhancements ensure improved on and off-road performance, comfort and refinement. There is also a new utility pack which enables the rear side windows to be filled with panels in the Station Wagon to create a commercial version with five seats. Prices start from pounds 18,645 for the Defender 90 Pick Up and rise to pounds 26,605 for the XS Double Cab Defender 110. Compared to the previous model, that is an average price increase of only pounds 400. The higher powered Defender 130 starts from pounds 22,655 and will be available from Land Rover dealerships in July.

"Defender remains a significant contributor to our business, with on average 6,000 units sold year on year in the UK. We already have over 800 pre-orders for the 2007 model," says John Edwards, Land Rover UK managing director.

"It is also a symbol of our 4x4 heritage, a reminder of our roots and plays a vital role in the lives of the 25,000 customers from all corners of the globe who buy one.

"Farmers, aid-workers, NGOs and explorers the world over value Defender's versatility, its extraordinary strength, robustness and capability. The unique combination of these attributes helps account for the model's high levels of customer loyalty."

In spite of the improvements, the Defender's unique vehicle architecture remains the same. The chassis frame is still available in three different wheelbases, and in both standard and heavy-duty guise ( for even greater load-bearing capabilities.

A total of 14 separate body styles ( from pick-ups and hard tops to crew cabs and station wagons ( are produced on the mainstream production line. Beyond this, Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations team offers products from standard drop-side or box-body conversions to bespoke design and build adaptations into ambulances, mobile hydraulic platforms and even airport fire tenders ( all of which are covered by Land Rover's warranty.

As with all models in the range, a cost for off-setting the carbon emissions for the first 45,000 miles is included in the on-the-road price. Administered by independent provider Climate Care, the programme ensures that the average amount of CO2 produced by a Land Rover is offset by investments in a mixed portfolio of projects, including renewable energy, technology change and energy efficiency initiatives.

Trying the new Defender on and off-road, the additional power and responsiveness of the engine was immediately apparent. It's livelier, smoother and quieter, especially on main roads, while its extra urge and lower ratios off-road give added ability in heavy going. Clutch effort is less and the gearchange direct.

The turning circle is still quite big and the brakes lack feel but have plenty of power underfoot.

The fascia is compact and clear with better located instruments and controls. The stadium layout of the forward-facing back seats is a huge boon to visibility and the vehicle retains excellent load bed properties.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2007
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