Driving report: Land Rover Defender 130: Desire for length

You don't have to know the Land Rover Defender's long line of ancestors to guess that the previous model variants did not exhaust the full spectrum of possibilities.

Driving report: Land Rover Defender 130: Desire for length

You don't have to know the Land Rover Defender's long line of ancestors to guess that the previous model variants did not exhaust the full spectrum of possibilities. There is the normal model, called 110, and the short, two-door version called 90. The fact that there was already a long 130 at the time of the venerable "Landy" caused speculation back in 2019 at the premiere of the New Defender. They are now over, because with the 130 there is now actually the third body variant.

The long version is an eight-seater, at least it is advertised as such. But when the third row of seats is occupied by three halfway grown people, it gets uncomfortable. If, on the other hand, there is only two places at the back, the Defender 130 surprises with a decent amount of space and a lot of comfort. Even those who are taller than 1.80 meters and have long legs can easily cope here. There are even heated seats and USB ports. That is not a matter of course. In any case, it is clear that these seats should be taken seriously and are in no way comparable to the two emergency seats that are available for the Defender 110. It is also clear, however, that in practice the third row of seats is seldom permanently occupied. Those who opt for the 130 simply want more space - whether in the USA, in the Arab world or in China, where large vehicles are particularly popular. But be careful: With the third row of seats up, there is a paltry 290 liters of luggage space according to the German VDA standard. That's not very much. The situation is different when the rear row of seats is folded almost flat: then it is over 1,000 liters. And if that's still not enough, the folded second row of seats provides a capacity of almost 1,900 liters.

However, the space available for boarding is not nearly as plentiful. If you have to go all the way to the back, you can expect a few contortions. Among other things, this is also a consequence of the fact that the gain in space compared to the Defender 110 was not achieved through an extended wheelbase. Like the new Defender 130, this has a distance between the axles of three meters. The increase in length from 5.02 to 5.36 meters was achieved by extending it to the rear. This has tangible advantages: There is no difference in agility between the 110 and 130 – at most due to the additional weight of the long version of a good 120 kilograms. But when it comes to quick changes of direction, precision in curves and mobility in busy stationary traffic, the long version, which costs around 100,000 euros, is no hesitant.

Because the Defender name is inextricably linked to off-road driving and adventurous expeditions, a perfectly legitimate question arises among lovers of this scene: the rearward extension means a larger rear overhang, which inevitably results in a worse departure angle. Defender chief engineer Stuart Frith admits: "We knew that this would be a special challenge and paid close attention to it - and found solutions." At just under 29 degrees, the angle is of course smaller than the Defender 110, but larger than the many other off-roaders. In general, the 130 doesn't show any weaknesses when sand instead of asphalt, boulders instead of curbs or endless morass instead of puddles. Its intelligent all-wheel drive system, standard air suspension and sophisticated Terrain Response control system take it effortlessly where others have to give up.

But of course the life of the Defender driver mostly takes place in an orderly manner. As expected, the 130 does not show any weaknesses on the road either: it inherits updated and adapted infotainment, comfort equipment and driver assistance systems from the 110. The situation is similar with the engines: In addition to the two diesel six-cylinders with 183 kW (249 hp) and 221 kW ( 300 hp), the petrol six-cylinder with 294 kW (400 hp) is the star. The smooth-running 3.0-liter engine pushes the 130 with its 550 Newton meters from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds if necessary - but at least half a second slower than in the 110.

However, the three mild hybrid units are the only approaches towards electrification. The plug-in hybrid drive available with the Defender 110 is not available for the long version. In principle, it would also be interesting for many customers there, but there is a space problem: the retractable third row of seats takes up too much space to accommodate the high-voltage battery. "And we didn't want to place it on the roof rack either," laughs Frith.