Land Rover Defender new vs old off-road battle

The original Land Rover Defender is one of the most iconic off-roaders ever – it’s right up there with the likes of the Jeep Wrangler, the Mercedes G-Class and the Suzuki Jimny. But how does it compare to the all-new Defender? Well, Mat’s planned a devious off-road battle to find out… 

Tap the video to watch the challenges.

Despite sharing a name, these two Defenders are drastically different under the skin. Sure, they both have four-cylinder diesel engines, but the new car’s 2.0-litre unit produces 240hp, while the old car makes do with just 122hp.

It’s a similar story when you check out the torque – the measure of pulling power that’s more important than raw horsepower when you’re hauling a car up steep slopes. The old car produces a fair 360Nm while the new model pumps out 420Nm.

In both cars this torque is sent to all four wheels through a locking centre differential, but only the new Defender comes with a clever traction control system that can brake individual wheels to stop them spinning on slippery surfaces. It also gets an automatic gearbox instead of the old Defender’s six-speed manual.

Both cars come with a low-range mode to help them deal with very steep climbs, but the new Defender can muster a few centimetres more ground clearance.

There is one area where the old-school Defender might have the upper hand – and that’s when Mat tests the chassis and suspension on some tricky off-camber crests. See, the new car has fully independent air suspension, which is great on the road, but can’t match the old Defender’s solid axles and coil springs for sheer articulation.

The new car also tips the scales at a portly 2.4 tonnes, which is around 300kg more than the old Defender. It’s also quite a bit more expensive – you’ll need to part with £44,000 for an entry-level model, but the car Mat’s driving will set you back £56,000. The old Defender we have here is currently for sale for £33,000.

So, are you better off saving a bit of cash and getting the old-school off-roader, or are its proven old-school underpinnings no match for the tech-laden 2020 model? Watch the video to find out.

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