The last Land Rover Defender rolls off the production line next month. After 68 years one of the most loved vehicles in the world is going to slip into history.
The Defender has suffered from the same disease that the Mini I reviewed had; they’ve forgotten to stop making it. Except this has been going on for even longer…
Flaws in the modern day have included the inability to fit airbags, making this illegal in America from 1997 onwards. Incidentally, that’s when this model originates from; Turn 10, as Americans, are America-centric but the Defender has gone on after that blow in Europe.
And now petty bureaucrats running emissions regulations have done it in finally here. But to be fair, the Defender never got out of the 1950s. You could fit something from the 1958 model onto this, and by all accounts it is pretty hopeless in the real world today – slow, draggy, uncomfortable, the heater still not really working and you having to shout so your passenger could hear you.
Naturally, being out of whack in Forza terms as well, it does nothing to change this. The V8 makes plenty of noise but ultimately doesn’t have the power to shift the considerable weight of the Defender, which in turn also leaves the car with very little real cornering prowess.
Unfortunately, the Defender does not get to show in this game the reason it has the fanatical fanbase that it does – invincibility. Specifically, invincibility in the worst of conditions.
Forza 6 does not have anywhere the Defender can show its true prowess, which is off the road entirely. The Horizon games may give us such an option, but at some point I want to see the main series get some proper dirt, mud, gravel and snow action in so we can put not only more cars in for a good reason, but to also put some cars in a completely different light. The Defender would be one of these, without question.
But if they wanted to go full on historic with this particular piece of significance, then they should’ve gone with either the newest one – effectively the model of the last edition coming to an end – or the first one from 1948. They went that way with Willie’s Jeep, so surely a bit of light rivalry was there for the taking…
Instead though we’ve just been left with one from a time when even the Range Rover, which had long overtaken it in 1970, had gotten a new model itself. Even the Discovery had been knocking around for a long time by then.
However, while the Defender might cease production, it’s unlikely to be killed off. Hundreds of companies make components for it, and the army owns many thousands of Defenders, so parts will not run short in our lifetimes. Land Rover is discussing a replacement — a “lifestyle” 4×4 to carry on the great traditions of the Defender. But is the Defender replaceable?
Well when you look at Land Rover when the Defender started being a thing and compare it to what Land Rover is now, it’s not really gonna return to its roots.
However, whilst a technological Range Rover goes further through the rough these days than a Defender, when a part of it breaks, you’re not likely to find someone who can fix it…where you are. Whereas earlier this year an AA patrol fixed a classic Land Rover’s broken condenser with a potato and cable tie.
But none of this has much to do with Forza. Because sadly you can’t do here what it was meant to do.