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Land Rover Defender 110 Double-Cab

Van test review: COLIN DAWSON

Much improved Defender Double-Cab does the business off-road
The imposing Defender Double-Cab lives up to its rugged appearance


What is it?

It’s unmistakeably a Land Rover. If you were driving a 110 in 1983 when the model was introduced, you’d be hard pressed to notice too great a difference in the 2012 model-year version.

But in fairness, improvements have been made since 2007 and they are more than just superficial, transforming the Defender’s on-road refinement and comfort. The new facia is based on a single, large moulding, supported on a steel rail said to help eliminate squeaks and rattles. The instrumentation has been improved with clear, concise information for the driver, and details such as all-LED illumination.

Nevertheless, with the exception of the new heater and ventilation controls, the switchgear would be familiar to the driver of a 1983 model. The heating and ventilation system itself has been greatly improved and employs aluminium plate-and-fin heat exchangers.

Also on the plus side, the new interior provides versatile stowage shelves for both driver and front passenger. Two console options are available: a practical open-tray design that keeps contents to hand and a large, lidded design offering 14 litres of stowage.

Cabin comfort has been greatly improved, too, with tall front seats and robust, supportive second row seats. Three occupants can be accommodated on the asymmetrically split second row. A spring-assisted mechanism helps when folding the seats for carrying large or awkward loads.

Much improved Defender Double-Cab does the business off-road
Cabin comfort has been greatly improved although some aspects of the Defender still feel somewhat ‘agricultural’

Seat trims include durable all-vinyl and cloth specifications; a half-leather option is also included in the XS specification available on Station Wagon and 110 Double Cab Pick-Up derivatives to add a touch of luxury to the cabin. Three-point safety belts are specified for all seating positions.

A new EU5 2.2-litre diesel engine replaced the EU4 2.4-litre diesel in 2011, bringing greater levels of performance and refinement to the 2012 Defender. Despite its smaller capacity, the engine delivers the same power, torque and economy as the unit it replaced, but makes this the cleanest Land Rover Defender yet produced. In EU5 markets, the new engine comes with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to ensure the lowest possible levels of regulated emissions.

With 360Nm of torque, it has plenty of oomph, despite the Defender having the aerodynamics of a house brick. And for vehicle with beam axles on long-travel coil suspension it handles remarkably well.

It’s an enduring product that also has a certain individual cachet about it. Unlike some 4×4 pick-ups, it oozes ruggedness. But why would you buy one for your business?

The cargo tray on the 110 Double-Cab test model is fairly small with a load length of 1,020mm (40.8in). The space is hampered by the spare wheel. The largest box size dimensions it can accept are 690mm (27.2in) in length and a width of 800mm (31.5in), which is too small for a standard Euro pallet. Payload is good though, at 1,400kg.

Much improved Defender Double-Cab does the business off-road
For really serious off-road use, mud-terrain tyres are an optional extra

In practical terms, some of Land Rover’s biggest customers are utility companies with a real need for the ability to get off the beaten track and back, so if it’s off-road capability you require above all, then the Land Rover is a good prospect.

It’s long-travel suspension and dual-range transmission with deep low-end gearing give it impressive performance away from paved roads, especially when fitted with the optional Goodyear Wrangler mud-pattern tyres.

Two options packs are available: the Comfort Pack provides air conditioning, CD Player with auxiliary input, electric windows and remote central locking and costs £1,650; the Off-Road Pack provides ABS, heavy-duty rim and mud-terrain tyres, tow ball and under-ride protection bar and costs £1,500.

Much improved Defender Double-Cab does the business off-road
Load space is limited and also hampered by the position of the spare wheel


What’s hot?

  • Serious off-road capability
  • Six-speed gearbox with high top gear for cruising and deep low transmission for crawling capability over difficult terrain
  • Improved interior enhances passenger and driver comfort and drivability
  • Rugged looks turn heads and underline its off-road credibility

 What’s not?

  • Fuel consumption
  • Limited load area
  • Still has an ‘agricultural’ feel about it

 Business Vans verdict

If your business van requirements demand competent off-road ability, then the Land Rover Defender is a serious prospect. The interior improvements make it much easier to live with than earlier models, although certain aspects retain a decidedly ‘agricultural’ feel.

Keep up to date with developments in our Business Van News section.

 What you need to know

On the road price (with optional extras as tested) ex VAT: £29,495
Load length: 1,020mm
Load width: 800mm
Load height: 1,160mm
Load capacity: n/a
GVW: 3,500kg
Towing capacity braked/unbraked: 3,500kg/750kg
Engine: 2,198cc 4-cyl diesel
Power/Torque: 122.4hp/360Nm
Economy (combined): 25.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 295g/km

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