Old Defender passes modern emissions regs with new JE conversion

EcoBoost engine makes the Defender cleaner than ever - and it's no slouch!

Defender emerging from a ford

by Theo Ford-Sagers |

A new engine conversion by JE MotorWorks enables traditional Defenders to meet the most up-to-date Euro emissions regulations, while delivering considerably more power than any production Td5 or TDCi.

Using 2.3-litre petrol Ford EcoBoost GDiT engines, JE is able to make the Defender Euro 6c compliant, allowing entry to certain urban low-emissions zones where more polluting engines are currently banned, or charged heavily.

This should appeal to some owners of Defender-based specialist vehicles, including ambulances and pick-ups, which will be banned from London’s Low Emissions Zone from March 1 this year unless they are Euro 6 complaint. Other LEZs are arriving in the UK over the next couple of years; for example, from the end of next year, diesel cars needing to enter Glasgow’s LEZ must be Euro 6 compliant.

Jonathan Douglas, owner of Coventry-based JE MotorWorks, says: ‘At a time when a vehicle’s environmental credentials are becoming increasingly significant as a measure of performance and when calculating the subsequent cost of ownership, we anticipate that owners of more-seasoned Defenders are likely to welcome the latest news surrounding our engine replacement programme. The 2.3 GDiT unit is smooth, willing and much quieter than a diesel, so we are sure our customers will be proud to drive the least-polluting version of the Defender ever!’

How the numbers compare

Land Rover’s Ford Puma engines (which powered the Defender during its final years) were originally Euro 4 compliant in 2.4-litre form, and Euro 5 when changed to 2.2-litre capacity in 2011.

Just as impressive as the emissions figures of the EcoBoost conversion is its power output of up to 310bhp, depending on the market, enabling a top speed of ‘well in excess of 125mph’ – not something that should be attempted on most Defender tyres!

2.4 TDCi: 120bhp, 265lb ft, Euro 4

2.2 TDCi: 120bhp, 265lb ft, Euro 5

2.3 Ecoboost: Up to 310bhp, 319lb ft, Euro 6

Although the EcoBoost is apparently compatible with Land Rover’s MT82 manual gearbox (and not the earlier R380), JE also offers the conversion with a Ford-derived six-speed automatic.

The EcoBoost engine conversion is available for 300Tdi, Td5 and TDCi Defenders, priced from £16,600 to £26,200 + VAT (the lower cost being for later vehicles, with 300Tdis costing the most). More info on pricing and other JE MotorWorks options can be found here.

We look forward to getting behind the wheel, to see whether a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol really can offer the driving characteristics of a traditional Defender engine.

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JE MotorWorks Ecoboost 2.3 GDiT in Defender engine bay
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JE MotorWorks Ecoboost 2.3 GDiT in Defender engine bay

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