On the Road: The new Land Rover Defender 130 V8
On the Road: The new Land Rover Defender 130 V8

Ian Lamming discovers bigger is better in Land Rover’s new Defender 130

IT’S the holidays so it’s time for a treat.

Ordinarily, for the day-to-day running around, I wouldn’t choose a vehicle that is juicy on fuel. But I’ve wanted to get behind the wheel of the Land Rover Defender V8 since I saw the bad guys hoon about in them in the last Bond movie.

The introduction of the 130 provides the perfect opportunity as does the fact the commuting is reduced during the holidays. On paper this 500PS V8 bad boy only gets 19 miles to the gallon. So when I manage 22mpg I’m really pleased with myself. Perhaps I could have done the school run after all.

The 130 completes the triumvirate. So there’s a short wheelbase 90, a longer 110 and the truck length 130, which comes with eight seats; yes eight! I don’t think I’ve ever driven a car with eight seats before.

No surprise then that it is huge. I park my Ducati motorbike next to it and it looks like a mini moto. Just look at the official measurements. It is more than 17.5ft long, almost 7ft wide and nearly 6.5ft tall. It weighs in at 2.75 tonnes and it will wade through 3ft of water.

It is vast and the view from the driver’s seat is epic. From that lofty vantage point you gain a view of the world previously unseen. You can see over walls and hedges, you get glimpses of vistas you have not seen in the past.

But the most impressive thing about the behemoth is how easy it is to drive on the road. Even the single carriageway stuff fails to be daunting because the Defender is incredibly maneuverable. Vison all-round is superb and as the driver you fully appreciate where its extremities lie. If you can’t fit on the road with other road users then you can head off the asphalt with the confidence it has the ability to get you back on once they have driven by.

I thought the V8 might have come with more bling, though the accessory catalogue is legendary should you want or need to pimp up your ride. Little separates it from the others in the lineup save the four exhaust pipes that poke menacingly from the rear.

On start up the Defender is blessed with the glorious burble unique to the V8 block. Nothing sounds as exquisite as a V8 with its soft melodious wuffle. It’s such a relaxed motor and it chugs away completely unstressed unless you floor the throttle to unleash its 500PS of strength, at which point there is a hard edge to the cacophony that sends tingles down the spine.

Air suspension takes care of the ride which is magic carpet smooth. It also stays remarkably level through the bends for such a gargantuan vehicle and overall its road manners are car-like not bus.

Inside, the designers have run riot and know their market well. There doesn’t seem to be an over-reliance on tech and while there is the usual touchscreen, there remains and healthy number of switches and dials which make it more familiar and usable for the mature owner.

It is all solid and serviceable inside with bags of room and a high degree of comfort. There’s also a great infotainment centre with which to rock your favourite sounds and all manner of luxuries to keep you happy and fatigue-free.

As you would expect the 130 is a very easy car to live with on the road but with the Land Rover heritage you know it is a serious contender off it as well. Defender remains a genuine go-anywhere vehicle with all those mud-plugging traits benefiting users to the full on our pothole-strewn, increasingly flooded asphalt as well.

So was the Defender 130 V8 a holiday treat to remember? You bet it was.

Fact File

Model: Land Rover Defender 130 V8

Engine: 5.0 litre, V8 supercharged petrol

Drivetrain: eight-speed auto
Power: 500PS
Top speed: 149mph

0-60mph: 5.4 secs

MPG: 22

CO2: 325g/km

Price: £117,375.00 (including options)