When we enter our sixth decade, retirement, a bungalow in Eastbourne and plenty of time for hobbies loom large – but try telling that to Land Rover Defender SVX.
The Land Rover Defender SVX is celebrating it and the firm’s 60th birthday by refusing to grow old gracefully. In fact, the firm is hitting back at suggestions that it should pension off the Defender by revealing the most thrilling version yet!
The SVX is essentially a standard Defender 90 with some cosmetic updates. It’ll be offered as both a station wagon and the soft-top version seen here in prototype guise. This is the first time the roofless model has been sold in the UK for 20 years, and Land Rover has come up with an all-new hood that’s made from the sort of cloth you’d expect to see on a drop-top Jaguar, and stows in a solid box beneath the boot floor.
But the most obvious difference between the SVX and a regular Defender is the metallic black paint. Combined with a silver rollcage, tubular side steps and unique five-spoke alloy wheels, it gives the 4x4 a tougher look. Arguably the best bit of the makeover is saved for the front, where there’s a restyled grille with clear light lenses.
Inside, Land Rover has given the SVX new seats in an effort to address the Defender’s perennial problem of limited elbow room. It’s a minor improvement and the one-piece Recaro chairs are certainly supportive, although taller drivers will still feel too squeezed for comfort in the utilitarian cabin.
This anniversary model also comes with Garmin sat-nav and an iPod connection, while there’s a new audio system with a subwoofer in the centre console. It’s a nice touch, but a little redundant once you’re under way, because road, wind and engine noise will drown out the sound system.
On-road, the SVX is like other new Defenders. It’s noisy compared to modern SUVs and vibrates like a car from another era. The new six-speed manual is easy to use, and other controls, particularly the clutch, require less effort than previous models – only the high/low ratio transfer box remains awkward to use. And let’s face it, if you’ve bought a Defender you’ll be using it, because this car is at its best off-road, and effortlessly covers terrain that would defeat most modern vehicles.
A £30,495 price tag ensures the SVX will appeal to a rarefied group of customers, but Land Rover shouldn’t find it difficult to sell the 300 cars
it’s planning to build.