What's the Story?
No matter what the sales rep may tell you in the showroom, the current 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel is far from the perfect power unit for every single Defender.
Okay, it’s fine for most of the stuff that’s asked of it in a 90, especially if remapped and liberated from its ludicrous speed limiter. But if you drive a 110 in tough off-road conditions or on a challenging overland expedition, or if you tow with a 130, you’ll soon find that it lacks sufficient grunt and power.
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When the Discovery 3 burst on to the scene in 2004, its brilliant 2.7-litre TDV6 engine was praised to the heavens by just about everyone who drove it. And almost every Land Rover admirer asked the same thing: any chance of a Defender version? It’s a fair question, especially bearing in mind that every other diesel engine in all the earlier models of the Disco – 200Tdi, 300Tdi and Td5 – had a Defender equivalent.
Bell Auto Services turned out a one-off TDV6 90 using Simtek’s Body-Logic management system (July 2010 issue), but no one has ever come close to conceiving and selling a TDV6-engined Defender. Until now.
And the Verdict from LRO?
In fact, the 130 feels lighter on its feet than my own TDV6 Discovery 3 auto, especially when pulling away from rest. Can you imagine that? The vital stats reveal all: the 24-valve Jaguar V6 boasts 245bhp and 424 lb ft of torque. That is a serious achievement: to put it in perspective, that’s very close to the performance you get from the new, 3.0-litre TDV6 Discovery 4, which puts out 244bhp and 442 lb ft.
JE has added a charge cooler along the engine intercooler, allowing the lowest-possible temperature of air to enter the system, adding reliability in the extreme conditions that this particular workhorse is destined for.
The Saluki has every inch the feel of a factory vehicle: if Land Rover listed a Defender 130 TDV6 in its model line-up it would, surely, look and feel exactly like this. It’s not only me who thinks that. Richard Stanton was so bowled over by the quality of this one, that he immediately placed orders for another two to join his company’s fleet. That means you’ll need to join a queue if you want one – but at least that’ll give you time to start saving up the 30-odd grand for the conversion.
While that tremendous price tag is the only drawback, you do usually have to pay handsomely to get the ultimate in anything. And this is the ultimate Defender, period.
This feature appeared in the April 2011 issue of LRO. Current and Back issues are available to download on digital devices here. Please note, we only hold stocks of the the last three back issues.