Road tests

Land Rover Defender 130 D300 2022 review

We get to grips with the new Land Rover Defender 130, the largest model in the range

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Does the world need an eight-seat Land Rover Defender when a seven-seater already exists? Perhaps that’s the question we’re still struggling to answer, but one thing’s for sure: the Defender 130 does provide a generous dollop of additional practicality over the already cavernous 110 variant, and it does this without sacrificing any on-road or off-road manners. For an admittedly niche buyer, it’s a well thought-out vehicle.

A sprawling Land Rover Defender line-up has emerged since the vehicle’s launch three years ago. But here comes the big one – literally: the eight-seat Defender 130.

It stops short of seating nine because the three-seat front bench offered on the Defender 90 isn’t available in the 130. At 5,358mm long, it’s 340mm longer than the seven-seat Range Rover in long-wheelbase form. Up front, there’s nothing to tell the 130 apart from the 110, and the cars share the same wheelbase. Instead, the rear is elongated from the C-pillar onwards.

Here, we’re testing it with the mild-hybrid twin-turbocharged, 3.0-litre straight-six diesel powertrain. A 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds is as quick as you’d want in a car of this size and weight, and the electrified, turbocharged diesel is responsive enough at any speed thanks to a significant 650Nm of torque being available from 1,500rpm.

You might expect the 130 to flounder at the sight of a corner but, just like smaller models, it flows through bends surprisingly well. The brakes have to be applied slightly sooner to contain the extra momentum, but there’s a lovely progressive feel to them, and the feedback through the steering wheel is good, if you’re gentle with your inputs.

The air suspension (which can raise the ride height by 72mm), delivers excellent comfort at higher speeds, but it fidgets a little over ruts and bumps around town.

We drove the 130 on Land Rover’s Eastnor Castle off-road course. And despite the extra weight, the 130 seemed as adept in the rough stuff as its smaller siblings. It also has the same approach and departure angles, plus a maximum wading depth of 900mm.

Even urban driving in the biggest Land Rover isn’t too intimidating either, because it has plenty of standard driver-assistance systems. The X-Dynamic HSE comes with blind-spot assist, traffic-sign recognition and, once you find a space large enough, the 360-degree parking aid really helps.

In mid-level X-Dynamic HSE trim, utility and luxury are very well balanced. The exposed screwheads, chunky grab handles and angular design are all bespoke to the Defender and give a utilitarian alternative to the more premium Discovery. There’s also lots of storage, with huge door bins up front and a large area under the centre console.

The third row in most SUVs is usually good enough only for small children, but the 130 can happily fit two adults and a child.

The low window line and panoramic sunroof (standard on all 130s) let plenty of light in so it doesn’t feel dark back there. But a middle-row or front-seat occupant will have to give up some legroom should an adult sit at the back. Even with the middle row tilted all the way forward, getting into the back also requires some effort, given the height of the floor and the protruding wheelarch.

Thanks to the extra length, boot space has improved over the seven-seat Defender 110 with all three rows in place. The 130 has a family hatchback-rivalling 389 litres, whereas the 110 makes do with 231 litres. 

The number of people who really need the 130’s practicality and off-road prowess will be few and far between. Plus, in this X-Dynamic guise, it also costs a significant £83,435, which is £9,855 more than the equivalent 110 model. There’s not much this side of a minibus that can match the 130’s people-carrying ability, however.

Model:Land Rover Defender 130 D300
Engine:3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel MHEV
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:7.5 seconds
Top speed:119mph
On sale:Now
Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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