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Land Rover Defender Heritage Edition: For the serious adventurer!

05.09.2016

So the Land Rover Defender has finally kicked the bucket and although this wouldn't be the first time the British company has made that claim, I think this time it's for real. As a tribute to the Defender's passing they released this, the Heritage Edition and what it is exactly is a near replica of the very first model they ever introduced.

That's quite a claim, in fact it more closely resembles a modern interpretation of the famous HUE 166 Land Rover - the first pre-production Series I vehicle, nicknamed 'Huey', which dates back to 1947. Traditionalists will appreciate the Grasmere Green metallic paintwork, Alaska White roof, heritage style grille, headlamp surrounds and heavy-duty steel wheels. Other nostalgic additions include the silver front bumper with black end caps while clear indicator lenses and Indus Silver door hinges also set the Heritage Edition apart.

My way of paying tribute to what is a legend of motoring history was to take it to a place the Defender calls home; the bush. I then proceeded to do what most Defender Heritage Edition owners will never be - and probably never dream of - doing; tackling an off-road course.

There's something distinctly humorous about a Defender. It bounces about almost uncontrollably, has a steering wheel the size of the titanic's and if you aren't the driver, nothing to hang on to. There's no sound insulation, the gearbox is - at best - from a tractor as is the engine and both rumble and grumble accordingly. An aircon and a radio are about as modern as the touches get and even then the radio is something you're likely to find in a tricked out 80s Opel Kadette.

But all that said, the true triumph is that any trip in a Defender is an adventure. Be it your trip to get a pint of milk, or an actual overland adventure you'll find yourself smiling all the way.

Anyway let's get back to that off-road course. The Defender Heritage comes with the normal 4x4 equipment the others do, so there's a locking centre differential, traction control and low range. The 90kW and 360 torques will tug you along nicely in low range - and the short wheel base '90 edition' shows it mettle when overcoming taller obstacles. But honestly that's about it. Traction control does little to direct power across either axle as you need it, so picking the correct line to keep rubber touching dirt is everything. If you do that you're golden.

On the road the Defender is predictably awful because of everything mentioned earlier.. But then what do you expect from an off-road machine that hasn't changed significantly in 60-odd-years. If you're after a comfy road going SUV look elsewhere.

So, what's my overall verdict here? I think this one is undoubtedly for the collectors. At R740 000 odd you'd have to be mad to buy one for any other reason - and that said you can't actually buy one new because only 180 came to SA and they're all gone. Should you rush out and buy a normal Defender? If you have a spare parking spot and are serious about adventure, then hell yes.

Article written by Miles Downard
05.09.2016
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