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  • Black-Ops styling; Luxury leather seats and trim; superb off-road ability; more compliant suspension for decent ride comfort; better steering feel; doggedly strong engine; noise insulation.
  • Woeful ergonomics; slow in passenger car terms; cramped cabin;

6 / 10

Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive

Land Rover’s new Defender LXV Special Edition is likely to represent the model’s swansong, bookending the Defender’s singularly utilitarian history with the most luxurious version ever built.

Tracing its roots back to the original Land Rover series launched in 1948, this is not only a last hurrah for the British off-road icon but also a celebration of 65 years of the Land Rover badge itself.

The desire to create a vehicle that would tackle any terrain was at the forefront of the Land Rover psyche since its foundations were first sketched in the sand by Maurice Wilks.

Luxury and comfort were never part of the formula.

But the Special Edition LXV is a decidedly different take. With a mere 605 in total to be built, Land Rover is treating the diehards to a touch of indulgence.

With its blacked-out windows and mostly all-black livery, the LXV looks more like a specially prepared black-ops version than any poshed-up Land Rover Defender.

The effect is grounded by a set of striking 16-inch Sawtooth alloy wheels in Santorini Black gloss or Fuji White – contrasting with the LXV’s Corris Grey roof, grille, headlamp surrounds and facia.

Inside you get Land Rover’s ‘exclusive’ all-leather sports seats boasting LXV-embossed headrests, orange contrast stitching on the seats, thick-rimmed leather steering wheel and centre cubby compartment to complement the various LXV decals positioned around this Defender.

Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive

And for the Land Rover traditionalists there’s the obligatory (but optional) Union Jack decal for the tailgate.

Unfortunately, for all the glamour the ergonomics haven’t improved – at all. The cabin is woefully cramped, offering zero elbowroom for the driver along with a ludicrously positioned handbrake lever that requires body-builder-size biceps to engage.

The centre stack hasn’t improved much, either (not since 1948, apparently) with its still cliff face-vertical only bolstered by a metallic-look plastic surround.

However, with all the extra bling it’s a more exciting proposition than most previous-model Defenders, albeit something of an acquired taste for anyone but a true believer.

Fortunately, Land Rover isn’t really going after the 4X4 diehards with the Defender LXV; they see it more as a status symbol for the upwardly mobile who want a stylish urban runaround rather than anything humdrum or practical.

That’s not to say the LXV is any less capable than any other Land Rover Defender in the marque’s off-road lineage.

Available in five different body styles, the LXV is based on the standard Defender that is powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission producing 90kW and 360Nm of torque.

This engine is noticeably quieter than previous Defenders, with none of that nasty truck-like clatter finding its way into the cabin even when pressed.

Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive

The current 90-series Defender received a significantly upgraded NVH package for 2012, with more efficient soundproofing and seals that seem even more effective on the LXV Special Edition.

Requiring all of 14.7 seconds to go from zero to 100km/h, the Defender LXV is certainly no firecracker, but it does have plenty of pulling power.

The ratios are suitably well placed to take advantage of the engine’s grunty low-down torque, with third being a particularly versatile gear on road and off.

Again, though, the six-speed ’box requires a bit of manhandling at times, but at least it’s clean-shifting and positive.

Despite what the acceleration times might suggest, the LXV never feels deprived of pace. It all feels well matched and more planted than earlier Defenders we drove.

There’s more weight and feel in the steering, too, but it’s still a vehicle that requires your full attention on the bitumen. There’s just an inherent nervousness to the Defender, even with this more refined version.

Armed with a single variable-vane turbocharger and Land Rover’s ‘Stall Control’, it’s possible to crawl along in difficult off-road conditions with your right foot completely off the accelerator.

Off-road comfort is also surprisingly good. The suspension effectively absorbs the largest ruts and potholes without any reverberation through the cabin.

Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive

With permanent four-wheel-drive and dual-speed transfer case, the Defender LXV proved enormously capable and breezed through the test run’s off-road trail without the slightest challenge – crossing fast-flowing rivers effortlessly.

It’s no doubt that Land Rover will have little trouble selling all 605 Defender LXV Special Editions – the UK alone will be taking 10 per cent of the LXV 90s.

This is a model that may have retained its quirks, but after all it remains an automotive icon that may well be the last of its generation – a first and only generation.

Land Rover Australia is yet to decide if it will take on the LXV for local sale.

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Land Rover Defender LXV Review: Quick drive
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  • Phil

    the remarkable thing about this is not that you can trace it back to its 1948 origins, but that in its natural environment, all the criticisms amount to precisely zero. No less suitable for its task now than when it began 65 years ago is surely a monumental achievement.

  • MisterZed

    Give me a Jeep Wrangler any day.

    • Chris

      Never in a million years! Less capable off-road, and about as iconic as a grey pavement block… no thanks!

      • MisterZed

        Er, the Wrangler is one of the most iconic vehicles ever made. It’s heritage dates back to WWII – you can’t get more iconic.

        • Audie-tron

          I think your missing the point. Where the Jeep Wrangler has changed so much over the years (more of a show pony now), the Defender has stuch to its DNA and changed very little. This car looked almost the same over 20 years ago but the Jeep looks different from only a few years back. Just looking at the jeep, you can tell it is aimed more at the SUV class rather than a fully fledged off-roader.

          • Phil

            The Rubicon comes with Dana 44 axles, sway bar disconnect for greater articulation and has lower gearing. It’s a serious 4×4. Could use the CRD motor, but even the Land Rover diehards acknowledge just how good they are off road. And there’s more aftermarket gear for them than I can poke a stick at.

          • Tony Abbotts No1 Fan

            If you’re saying the Wrangler is aimed at the SUV class, that would be a clear indication that you have never driven one.

            SUV class it ain’t, fully fledged it is..live axles both ends, availability of diff locks for both axles & disconnects, is not the realm of SUV’s

            Better still, go onto anyone of heaps of Jeep forums & they will all tell you, if you’re looking for an SUV type of vehicle, then don’t buy a Wrangler, it’s not designed for that market

        • lorus

          It dates back to 1978.

      • delcotexas

        Chris take a trip to the USA, and travel the RUBICON TRAIL only vehicles that have endured and completed the trail unmodified off the showroom floor is the Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee
        Less capable explain ………..or is just about looks.,
        and I suggest to you that 1 million buyers are not wrong that’s right Jeep has just produced its one millionth Jeep Wrangler JK since production stated at the Toledo plant 2007 !!!!!!

    • F1orce

      I like your style.

    • Igomi Watabi

      Okay, so now they’ve had the back-and-forth, tell us why you’d have a Wrangler “any day”

      • pro346

        Wrangler has a better choice of engines…both highly capable off road

        • Phil

          shame the diesel isn’t a choice in the most capable off-roader, though. Can’t understand why the Sport gets it but the Rubicon doesn’t.

  • Markus

    I like these but only for the country home. And for traditional folk.

    I hate all these inner city design morons who buy them…you clearly just couldn’t afford the evoque you wanted for the Land Rover badge.

    Great cars but hate how theyve been co opted by the stylish new money set.

  • Samson

    If you care about 0-100 in a Defender; you probably shouldn’t be driving one.

    • Phil

      I do. As long as you are talking elevation change on a very steep hill… 😉

  • poo

    jeeps sux

Land Rover Defender Specs

Car Details
110 (4x4)
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$33,220 - $37,750
Dealer Retail
$33,210 - $39,490
Dealer Trade
$25,800 - $30,200
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
360Nm @  2000rpm
Max. Power
90kW @  3500rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
11L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:3500  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
235/85 R16
Rear Tyres
235/85 R16
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
Beam axle, Coil Spring, Hydraulic shock absorber, Anti roll bar, Panhard rod
Rear Suspension
Beam axle, Coil Spring, Hydraulic shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Power Steering
Engine & Transmission
Diff Locks
Radio Compact Disc Player
Power Windows Front
Anti-lock Braking
Central Locking, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Front Driver Side Chassis
Country of Origin
United Kingdom