Land Rover Defender of the Faith
The Land Rover Defender, absent from the U.S. for a quarter of a century, has made its return in both a 90 and 110 super size. Available from 296 HP mild to 518 HP wild, there’s one available in just about any configuration you’d want.
Looking at Land Rover’s current availabilities, their locator tells us that despite the just-right size of the 90, you couldn’t get a ’21 model in anything but a 110. Should my fortunes or luck change, the 2022 Defender 90 most appealing to me would be the 90 V8, that .44 magnum of an SUV closest to what I’d consider the classic Defender. Perhaps it’s the 5.0-liter, supercharged V8, with its 518 HP and 461 lb-ft. of torque that tempts me, or its the shape of the 90 that’s vaguely reminiscent of the 1979 Stage 1 Defender V8 that captivated me upon its arrival at Four Wheeler magazine, where I sold ad space.
Maybe it was riding in the Defender 90 that the late Eddie Van Halen drove everywhere, despite having more vehicles than his nearly full-time mechanic, Bill Smulo, could handle. With plenty of room for guitar cases and small amplifiers, it was nearly ideal. The 3.9-liter V8 that came in the Defender of the early ’90s was no comparison to the blown big block in Eddie’s ’55 Chevy, but the Vortech supercharger that Smulo installed on the Defender did make it a decent runner up Mulholland Drive.
Zero-60 in 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 149 MPH, those are the numbers reported by Land Rover for the Defender 90 V8. Yes, there are other models available, such as the X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE, and top-of-the range Carpathian Edition, and reasons why the MSRP will swell to beyond what it costs to import and restore an original Defender. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Land Rover noted all the companies in the U.S. that are scouring the earth for Defenders that can be brought into the country, and once restored or modified, resell them for six-figure sums.
The height of personalization, different accessory packs as Land Rover refers to them, are supposedly purchased by a great many Land Rover customers. Having not been among that rare breed, I should have to take Land Rover’s word for it and assume they are correct in their assertion as to how many packs are sold to their well-heeled clientele. You should also know that the touchscreen has grown by over 60 percent, from a 10-inch display to an optional 11.4-inches, with Pivi Pro infotainment availability. We are now all well aware that watching something on the screen, or attending to it in any way while driving, is an absolute no-no, one that might lead to an unfortunate accident like the one sustained by golfing legend Tiger Woods, although at this time we’ve not heard the cause of that incident.
Suspension tuning with revised spring and damper rates, and a new electronic active rear differential to deliver greater agility and handling, the Defender V8 is said to have heightened body control. A Defender V8-exclusive Terrain Response system will enhance the performance of the Defender, and provide a new level of driver appeal, according to Land Rover. What is undeniable is the look of the 22-inch alloy wheels in a dark gray powder coat, Continental Cross Contact tires, and the Xenon Blue-painted brake calipers. Yeah, we like the new 2022 Defender V8.
[Images: Land Rover]