This 90 has evolved since we got it in 2000 as a 200Tdi. Written-off in a collision, it was rebuilt on to a galvanised chassis and now has a 300Tdi and auto box. It’s set up for greenlaning and off-road comps, but has to be good on-road – it covers 1500 road miles a month.
● Engine: 2495cc 4cyl 300Tdi
● Gearbox: Four-speed auto
● Front diff: Quaife ATB
● Rear diff: Ashcroft locker
● Suspension: +2in Extreme 4x4 Evolution ● LRO RWT mpg: 23.6
● Approx value: £7500
380 MILES TO GET THE FULL LOWDOWN...
What’s it like on greenlanes?
The progressive springs soak up bumps that would have unsettled vehicles with stiffer suspension. Visibility is great, and the BF Goodrich tyres are hardly troubled.
How does it cope with twisty stuff?
The 2in suspension lift makes it handle more like a 2CV than a sports car, but it’s predictable – you know there’s going to be body roll, so you lean in yourself. And if you try to brake hard when cornering, you end up fighting the Quaife ATB. Best practice is to brake before the corner – and this suspension/drivetrain set-up really enforces that. If you keep a steady pace, rather than accelerating/braking, progress is just as quick.
The fuel consumption’s not that bad, is it?
The overall figure of 23.6mpg is a bit disappointing, but I was driving it hard. The mud-terrain tyres and suspension lift would also have affected it.
Is the automatic conversion worth it?
You wouldn’t convert to save fuel, but overall it’s worth it. Off-road it always selects the right gear and you’ve got to be doing something really wrong to stall it. On-road you just leave the box to it. I don’t like the creep during urban driving – you either put the handbrake on and knock it into neutral each time you stop, or you blind the drivers behind with your brake lights.
How about hills?
The long drag out of Pateley Bridge is always a test for engines – and flooring the accelerator to get maximum speed after the town makes the Defender fly up the hill. But it’s at a cost. The exhaust smoke switches to black and the temp gauge needle tilts towards red. It doesn’t overheat, but I’m just throwing away money – it means the fuel’s being turned into heat, not power. Better just to drive a bit slower and save cash.
What's the point?
LRO’s Real World Test gives an independent, ‘real world’ fuel economy figure based on a varied and enjoyable 380-mile route, rather than sitting on a dyno.
It’s a big drive to do in one day, so we get up early and start by brimming the fuel tank at a garage on the A1 in Lincolnshire.
By doing the same at the end, it’s easy to get a precise ‘combined mpg’ figure – meaning a blend of motorways, fast A-roads, country roads, a couple of long greenlanes and a rush-hour city crawl. And, we find out more along the way!
Our test route
Bloody Oaks services, Stamford > A1 north Knaresborough > Arncliffe > Kettlewell > Middleham > Bainbridge > Stalling Busk (byway) > Hubberholme > Cam High Road (byway) > Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes > Settle > Silsden > Bradford > M62 east > Ferrybridge > A1 south > Bloody Oaks services, Stamford