The four-cylinder diesels have been dropped from the Defender line-up, leaving a choice of three straight-six Ingenium oil burners in 200, 250 and 300 guises, all with mild-hybrid tech. We tested the mid-range version with its 249PS (183kW) and 570Nm (420lb ft) of torque matched to the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed automatic. Despite shaving 100kg from the long wheelbase model the 90 still tips the scales at over 2.2-tonnes, so it was never going to move that briskly off the line regardless of the number of ratios or help from the hybrid set-up. The 0-62mph standard takes 8.0 seconds which will be as much a surprise to the owner of a modern performance SUV as it will be to an old Defender owner, albeit from diametrically opposed viewpoints. Both will be familiar with a heavy combined fuel consumption of 30.4mpg.
The gearbox also has a habit of making lurching downshifts at junction negotiating speeds as it decides what to do with all the mass it has to move. Once in gear and on the move though the straight-six provides a strong shove at virtually any speed up to and beyond the motorway speed limit. This explains why the natural habitat of the Defender now seems to be bullying its way up the outside lane, where it tracks straight and true, rather than wobbling along like a Jeep Wrangler.
Despite the optional air suspension and Adaptive Dynamics, the Defender remains an off-roader as opposed to a Sport Utility Vehicle. The nose rises and squats in response to acceleration and braking, the body rolls and leans on its tyres through bends. None of that is a bad thing, however, thanks to progressive and smooth weight management, accurate steering and supple suspension. We only dabbled in a bit of dry weather off-roading in our time with the Defender, but we know from old that its all-terrain abilities will far surpass what almost any owner will ever ask of it.