Text and photos by Neil Pagulayan
The legendary Land Rover Defender hasn’t changed much in its many years of production. Even when fresh from the showroom with no modifications, this full-sized SUV can go anywhere, which is what endeared it to so many off-road enthusiasts. Unfortunately, that comes with a trade-off such as a rough ride some lack of refinement, and equipment designed to be more rugged than comfortable. Only a true lover of this vehicle —a Rovernut as they’re called — will pay for, and put up with it. Nonetheless, if Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II, can drive her corgis around their estate in a stock Defender, then I guess they’re in distinguished company.
So how do you improve upon a 2015 Land Rover Defender 110? We take around an example spruced out by Britpart to find out.
On the outside
The vehicle is two tone, dark grey, with the roof sprayed black with a rubberized peelable glossy P1 coating. Wrap around tint makes this Defender 110 look menacing, the original bumper was replaced with a steel black bumper with white LED daytime running lamps and Lynx LED headlamps which put out a brighter beam than the stock headlights. Bonnet vents and a side air intake vent was added to bring more air into the engine compartment, paired with a new grille for good measure.
It’s had its original shocks replaced for a set of Super Gaz Shock Absorbers and Suspension Kit which improved the ride immensely, giving it a better planted feel, and less body roll, which was helped further with wide 275/65 Pirelli Scorpions on 18-inch aluminum Sawtooth rims mounted on 30mm spacers for a wider stance with the additional benefit of giving it a better turning radius.
Under the bonnet, it has a 2.2L Puma four-cylinder Turbo Diesel engine that puts out a humble 122-Hp at 3500rpm with 361-Nm of torque at 2000rpm in stock form. A larger aftermarket intercooler was installed along with a Peak air filter for better airflow into the engine. Add to that a Britpart tuning box which, when plugged in, bumps up power with an additional 27-Hp and 71-Nm. Now that power has to get to the wheels and instead of a six-speed manual transmission, this one had an Ashcroft four-speed automatic transmission. This tranny was specifically made for the Defender and not a conversion. It slots right into the space vacated by the original manual transmission and also comes with an OE-looking center console for the cabin with a large storage box.
Getting behind the wheel was easy as the stock steering wheel was replaced with a Momo Jet-style which was much smaller, leaving more room between my left hand and the door when I grip the wheel. It also made it easier accessing the ignition which was on the lower left side of the steering wheel. That was pretty much what changed inside, everything else remained as it did from the factory.
From the start, I knew I was going to enjoy the drive in this vehicle. I’ve always liked the Defender and knowing what it’s capable of doing in its stock form just means it’s going to get better when aftermarket upgrades are installed on it. We took it up to Antipolo to get a feel for the automatic transmission and found that the four-speed eagerly shifts up as soon as it can. Although it’s not the fastest auto gearbox, you will thank it when you get into a traffic jam. The automatic transmission works with the 4WD system and you’ll still be able to rock the trails.
The spacers, wider tires, and suspension upgrades all helped on the way up and down, reducing body roll and even taking corners at considerable speed with confidence. The additional horsepower was very pronounced and helped get the engine to shift up easily. We proceeded to Palos Verde subdivision where we came up on some very steep inclines and, as expected, the Defender had no trouble negotiating them.
The Defender, though already quite capable, still can be improved, thanks to upgrades from Britpart. They may no longer be sold as new, but the lucky few that already have one will find that there are many ways to keep it competitive with against newer vehicles.
Britpart is located at 2295 Jannov Plaza, Pasong Tamo Ext., Makati City. Email them at [email protected]