This website works best using cookies, which are currently blocked. Find out more


Land Rover Defender – Iconic Vehicle for Great Experiences - 30 August 2012



Leader of the Pack


On the 26th of August I visited the 2012 Land Rover Show at Eastnor Castle, which has been the main off-roading testing ground for LR since 1961. The Landrover Experience is also located at Eastnor and has been teaching Off Road Driving Skills for the last 20 years. At the event there were hundreds of Land Rovers and their owners celebrating 60 years of engineering heritage. However the majority of the cars were the iconic Defender 90 and 110’s of all levels of customisation.

Around the Land Rover event people from all around England took part by showing off their pride and joy. Some even paid £45 to test their car to its limits by going round the Eastnor off-road track.  I was fortunate enough to crib a lift in the latest Defender 110 2.2D XS Station Wagon 5 Door.

For my off-road experience I was allowed to sit in with Team Leader Alfie Bates who is a Senior Instructor and has worked at Landrover Experience for the last 10 years. Alfie a former member of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (M) had spent plenty of time in Defenders in UK and abroad. Alfie is a confessed petrol head having owned four souped up Mini’s. His current cars are a Defender 90 and a Mercedes 350SLK. In addition to the latest Landrover portfolio Alfie occasionally gets to drive some of the competitor vehicles all of which make an interesting comparison. Alfie has also been engaged in the Landrover Dynamic Driving Program and gets the chance to Instruct on tarmac on the Test Tracks at Gaydon. He says it is an absolute thrill driving the Supercharged Range Rover Sport and putting it through its paces. The performance in jaw dropping (500+ BHP), by the way it aslo has the most incredable Off Road capability.


We are leading a convoy of 10 cars including several classic Series Landrovers,Discoveries, a Jeep and a Mitsubishi Shogun all are up for the challenge of steep and muddy terrain. The two millionth Land Rover is projected to come of the production line in 2012. Of all the LR’s ever produced, an estimated three-quarters are still in regular use. The latest Defender retains the original simple, honest and distinctive design. The Defender has a unique stance, which is fit for hard work or a trip to Harrods. Our vehicle had a few key options including steering protection plate, winch and Goodyear Wrangler all terrain tyres. The interior of the Defender has been modernised but retains its agricultural heritage of being rugged in appearance and mud friendly.

The guided convoy lasted two hours across the “Intermediate” Circuit. The Defender simply ate up the steep muddy tracks and water features. Being “leaders” we had to regularly stop for drivers on non Land Rover vehicles that got grounded or lost exhaust pipes or bent side running boards. The new 2.2 litre engine seemed well suited to the Defender. The engine has a anti-stall device that works in 1st ,2nd  and Reverse gear in Low Range, this allows the Defender to crawl up the steepest slopes.  


Alfie remarked that some owners were not making best use of their vehicles being unaware of the advantages of the Low Range and Differential Lock selectable options and when to use them. Walkie talkies were used to pass on 'set up' tips to the drivers of the convoy vehicles and exchange jokes between instructors.

In summery,  the Land Rover Experience is good fun for passengers and much better for drivers. The Defender is an iconic vehicle. The intermediate circuit seemed impressive. I guess the advanced circuit is nearly vertical and awesome. Half and Full Day adventures range from £195-£365 which is a bit steep as when you have been once you need to go back for more. A tip is to see what late bookings are available as discounts of 40% are possible on the website At Gaydon and Solihull there are one hour taster drives at £75 per driver, £7 per adult passenger and £6 per child which may suit the pocket better.

Land Rover Defender  - a  real TOPCAR


Want to see how the new Defender  DC100 and DC100 SPORT are developing? click here


Read other articles