Customised luxury Defenders are becoming big business. Bespoke Cars (bespokecars.co.uk, 01423 888888) aims to retain the Defender’s character while knocking-off a few of its rough edges with its version. This 110 GTS-R started life as a 2013 XS-spec Station Wagon.
● Engine: 2198cc 4cyl TDCi, 160bhp
● Gearbox: Six-speed manual
● Suspension: Lowered by 2in, with electronic switchable dampers
● Combined mpg: 25.5 (standard)
● LRO RWT mpg: 22.6
● Price as tested: £65,000 approx
380 miles to get the full lowdown...
What’s it like on greenlanes?
The 2in lower suspension causes the 285/65 R18 tyres to scrape a wheelarch occasionally, and the custom exhaust bangs the chassis, but it’s still a capable greenlaner.
How thirsty is it?
Considering how gently I drove versus my 185bhp Bowler 90 RWT (July issue), 22.6mpg was surprising – the 90 did 23.
But a standard 110 is 10 per cent thirstier than a 90, while chunkier 285/65 tyres and a tall roofrack add drag. I did have aircon on this time too. Pretty good!
Does my wallet look big in this Defender?
Pretty much every option box has been ticked. I like the 18in wheels, and the uprated brakes with AP Racing calipers have a nice, firm feel. With the TDCi remapped to give 160bhp it goes well too...
It’s smart inside, but I’d lose the gangster glass as it gives confusing reflections through the rear-view mirror. And the door mirrors didn’t adjust upwards enough for me.
How does it handle fast driving?
I’ve driven a few lowered Defenders before, but not for this long. As a well set-up standard-height Defender can be made to corner well, I’m still not convinced about the need to lower one. This 110 was good fun with its switchable dampers in Sport mode, but its huge tyres kept catching the bodywork on high-speed compressions, such as those on the B6255 from Gayle. Would that have happened at normal height, or with more modest boots?
So, what's that silver button for?
Electronic dampers are the latest gizmo for tuned Defenders, letting you choose from soft or firm damping at the press of a button. In ‘comfort’ mode the rear of this 110 was very bouncy on road and I was only comfortable using that on greenlanes. I’m not the first person to report that says Bilstein, who claim the soft setting on the B6 Ridecontrol set up is only meant for off-road use. It is investigating a road-only switchable option.
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