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Car Review

Land Rover Defender 130 review

810
Published: 11 Mar 2024
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Have you driven a Defender 110? Great news! No real need to read the rest of this page then. 

We jest of course, please do read on. There are some subtle differences when comparing the 130 to the smaller Defenders. Parking is the most obvious one. This thing is just under 2m tall, just over 5m long (not including the spare wheel) and 2.1m wide with its boxy wing mirrors included. It’s absolutely massive. 

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How does it cope with all that size on the move?

Well, air suspension is standard on even the entry-level 130, and it perhaps feels ever so slightly firmer than a 110’s to cope with the extra weight, but you’d really have to be nitpicking to notice. In general, the 130 has excellent road manners and remains fantastically comfortable. It controls its size remarkably well and corners unbelievably flat too, particularly for something with this much heft. We put a 130 V8 on some scales and it was comfortably over 2.7 tonnes. Yikes. 

Woah that’s heavy. Presumably that means it’s slow? 

The only six-cylinder 130 that we’ve driven so far is the D300. That’s Land Rover speak for a 3.0-litre diesel engine with twin-turbos and mild-hybrid assist to produce a total of 296bhp and a stonking 479lb ft of torque. It’s a great engine that’s remarkably refined for a diesel. Quick too – it’ll easily shift the big 130 to 60mph from a standstill in just 7.1 seconds.  

We’ve also had a go in a 130 V8, which probably won’t be a massive seller in the UK but will no doubt go very well in parts of the world where fuel is cheap and eight-cylinder engines are a way of life. Thing is, this is an engine we absolutely love. It’s JLR’s big 5.0-litre supercharged V8, and although it sounds a little more muted and makes slightly less power in the 130 (493bhp here versus 518bhp in the 90 and 110), it’s still every bit as intoxicating. Given the weight it doesn’t actually feel that fast and the quoted 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds actually seems quite ambitious, but its smooth, unrelenting delivery mates perfectly with the eight-speed ZF gearbox and there’s a wonderful rumbling soundtrack to match.

Talk to me about off-roading.

Again, like the 110 the 130 is remarkably competent off-road. You get all the standard Defender systems and abilities, including a twin-speed transfer box for low range gear ratios, a wading depth of 900mm and Land Rover’s excellent Terrain Response wizardry.

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We took the 130 into some very rough stuff at JLR’s Eastnor experience centre. It copes remarkably well, with the different Terrain Response modes adjusting things like the traction control, the diffs, gear changes and the throttle mapping to get you through just about anything. Just remember that the extra row of seats is hanging out the back there, so your departure angle is compromised compared to a 110. We’re not sure that’ll impact too many buyers, however. 

Some might need to tow though, in which case it’s worth knowing that the 130 can pull 3,000kg. 

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