What is it?
It’s yet another special-edition Defender. There have been countless since its introduction in 1990, featuring everything from exterior cages and custom colours to unique alloy wheels. There was even one that made you look like Tomb Raider.
The final three are arguably the most notable, largely because the Defender’s 67-year run, which started with the original Land Rover, is coming to an end in January next year. Those are namely the back-to-basics, rose-tinted spectacles Heritage, the luxurious (for a Defender) Autobiography and this, the rugged Adventure.
Only 600 Adventure Defenders will be produced, in a combination of 90 and 110 Station Wagon forms. Neither is cheap, because both cost a considerable £43,495, despite being based on XS trim which costs closer to £30,000 in both regular forms.
For that you get the choice of grey, white or orange paint all with contrasting black bonnet, unique interior and exterior Adventure badging, leather seats, LED headlights, a snorkel, roof rack, rear ladder, diamond-cut alloy wheels and some serious underbody protection. The 90 version also gets a power and torque upgrade from 120bhp to 148bhp, and 226lb ft to 295lb ft.
What’s it like?
Not quite like climbing into HUE 166, the original Land Rover, but not far off. True, the cabin materials and home comforts have moved on somewhat since 1968, but when compared with today’s SUVs, even from Land Rover itself, the Defender feels frankly ancient.
There’s a tiny amount of fore and aft driver’s seat adjustment and the steering wheel is set solid, so you either fit or you don’t. If you fancy giving your right elbow a rest, you’ll need to open the window, while the clutch pedal has the feel of a gymnasium’s weights machine.
The second row will sit two children in comfort, but not two or three adults. Weirdly, further back in the third row, the sixth and seventh seats are arguably the most comfortable of all. The Adventure’s leather surfaces, perforated leather steering wheel and floor and roof lining do at least create a sense of quality.
Driving a Defender quickly on the road requires nerves and large biceps. The steering gives some feedback but it’s extremely heavy and its lack of self-centring can catch you out at T-junctions if you’re not paying attention. So too can its leaning body.
The Ford Transit-derived 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine is better news. It pulls hard from low revs, and the six-speed manual transmission – aside from its short first gear – gives you room to build speed quickly in its lower gears. The gearshift itself is stiff and notchy, though, while the noise and vibration at high revs are something to behold.
Ride quality is far from comfortable, but the 110 manages to feel more composed than its shorter-wheelbase counterparts due to its axles having slightly more time to regain composure between lumps and bumps at a cruise. Even so, its old-school chassis still takes no prisoners on particularly rough surfaces at low speed.
There it is, then. Not surprisingly, given that this car that has barely changed mechanically in decades of being sale, it isn’t particularly fast, dynamic, refined or comfortable. But for the people that use them properly, use them for what they were and are designed to do, that simply won’t matter. Those are the people giving you a knowing smirk and a nod from their Defender as they bounce past.
More importantly to them, for traversing moors, collecting feed, transporting animals, rescuing climbers and pulling trailers off-road, few 4x4s will provide the sort of strength and assurance that a Defender will. The Adventure’s upgraded protection and practical Accessories will only make it even more useful in this respect.
Should I buy one?
As mentioned, you’ll have to be quick. But I’d wager that if you’re in the market for one and you’re aware of the downsides of running a Defender, you won’t give a hoot. If you intend to use it properly, the Adventure will be a faithful servant, and throw in a little luxury for good measure.
Even so, of the three Defender run-out editions, the Adventure seems to make the least sense. While the Heritage offers a possible future collectability, and the Autobiography a level of luxury never before seen in a Defender, the Adventure is essentially a Defender with leather seats and some accessories thrown in.
It might make more sense to buy a standard XS, add the relevant accessories, stop pretending this is anything other than an honest, simple workhorse and skip the leather seats, and save yourself a heap of cash in the process. Of course, for the 600 people who’ll inevitably clamber over each other for one, that would be missing the point.
Land Rover Defender 110 Adventure Station Wagon
Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £43,495; Engine 4 cyls, 2198cc, turbodiesel; Power 120bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 266lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 2125kg; 0-60mph 14.7sec; Top speed 90mph; Economy 25.5mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 295g/km, 37%
What is it?