Land Rover Defender 130 review: Worth the Stretch?

    With more space for passengers and luggage, and the same rugged appeal and ability, this could be the best Defender yet.

    Published on Mar 15, 2023 09:00:00 AM

    49,752 Views

    Make : Land Rover
    Model : Defender
    We Like
    • A proper eight seater
    • Unstoppable off road
    We Don't Like
    • Expensive
    • Interior not as plush as rivals

    This is not the first ever Land Rover Defender 130. No, that was the name given to the extra-long wheelbase version of the old Defender, and the numbers 90, 110 and 130 represented the three models’ wheelbases, in inches. The new Defender 130 doesn’t have a longer wheelbase (it’s the same 3,022mm as that of the 110), but it pays requisite homage to its utilitarian namesake by being the largest and most spacious model in the range.

    2023 Land Rover Defender 130 exterior dimensions, styling

    Yes, at 5,358mm including the spare wheel, the 130 is 340mm longer than the 110, but this added length has come entirely behind the rear axle, and that has its advantages and disadvantages. On a subjective note, some have found it a bit slab-sided or bulky looking compared to the far more truncated 90 and 110 body styles, and in truth, most large SUVs do have a long rear overhang (just look at the Range Rover). In the metal, the 130 more than delivers that imposing Defender presence.

    Dark chrome styling pack on test car; Accessories include roof rack, storage box among other items.

    It's got the boxy shape, the big wheels and tyres – seen on our test car are a set of 20-inch wheels wrapped in blocky Goodyear Wrangler mud-terrain tyres – the retro-futuristic headlamps and tail-lamps and the spare wheel bolted to the side-hinged tailgate. The test car was also fitted with a dark chrome styling pack and the accessories pack that includes a ladder, storage box and roof rack that holds, amongst other things, a shovel, which was actually put to use on our day in the dunes outside Dubai.

    As for the other downside, serious off-roaders might lament the fact that the departure angle, as a result of the longer tail, has reduced from 40 degrees to 28.5, vis-a-vis the 110. But then if pushing the absolute limits off-road trumps carrying eight passengers in comfort, then, perhaps, the 130 isn’t the Defender for you.

    2023 Land Rover Defender 130 interior space and features

    The Defender 130 is the first 8-seater SUV in its segment.

    The upside, of course, is inside, where you’ll find a brand new third row of seats, which Land Rover says can accommodate three adults. Of course, it’s not as spacious or plush as the second-row bench, but because it’s located above and slightly behind the rear axle, it’s far better than the optional ‘plus two’ seats you can get in the 110.

    With 2nd and 3rd-row seats folded, the Defender 130's boot space is a humongous 2,516 litres.

    As it’s not wedged between the wheel arches, you get the full cabin width for three passengers, and it’s placed high enough that your knees don’t meet your chest. At this price, though, other luxury SUVs do offer better second-row comfort. Knee room is really good, head room could even be described as generous, and this could very well be the most spacious and comfortable third row of any SUV on the market.

    The Defender 130's third row offers generous leg and headroom.

    It even gets a dedicated glass roof. The best part is that boot space hasn’t been compromised, and with all three rows up, you still have 389 litres of space. Fold the 40:20:40 last row and that increases to 1,232 litres, and with the second row down too, you get a van-like 2,516 litres.

    That aside, the cabin is the same, with a design that continues to reflect its rugged capability, while also being built from materials befitting a Rs 1.3 crore SUV, and a crazy amount of in-cabin storage. However, the look is relatively understated.

    The Pivi Pro infotainment is crisp to use and provides loads of information while off roading.

    So if your idea of luxury is colourful ambient lighting and lots of chrome, you’ll have to look elsewhere. It has a huge number of cleverly designed storage spaces and a battery of tech dedicated to keeping you comfy, entertained and moving effortlessly off road.

    2023 Land Rover Defender 130 engine, performance, off-road ability, comfort

    In India, the Defender 130 skips the four-cylinder P300 and goes straight to the six-cylinder D300 diesel and P400 petrol, the latter of which we’re driving today. The 2,996cc turbocharged mild-hybrid straight-six produces 400hp and 550Nm, which is delivered smoothly through all four wheels via ZF’s brilliant 8-speed automatic.

    The 3.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol powertrain smoothly delivers 400hp to all four wheels.

    It feels right at home on Dubai’s massive highways, but we suspect the added length might prove a little cumbersome on smaller Indian back roads. It’s refined when you need it to be and has a satisfying growl to it when you rev it out, and while there’s more than enough torque to haul this 2.6-tonne 8-seater, we suspect Indian buyers will prefer the 650Nm diesel version.

    Over the dunes, the Defender 130 manages its weight well thanks to the standard air suspension.

    With standard air suspension, it manages its weight well, and doesn’t feel too floaty over an undulating surface. Despite our test car running on those knobbly M/T tyres, even on the road, the ride never felt compromised, although as the last row is placed slightly behind the rear axle, it’s probably best to take things easy when it is loaded up.

    The Defender 130 tackles most obstacles easily via a great combination of hardware and software.

    For instance, don’t take seven passengers off roading, because the Defender 130 remains near-unstoppable in the rough, and you’ll want to do crazy things with it. With the suspension raised to off-road height and Terrain Response set to Sand, it’s almost fool proof out on the dunes, requiring you to simply flatten your foot and let the hardware and software do the rest.

    2023 Land Rover Defender 130 price and verdict

    At Rs 1.30 crore-1.41 crore (ex-showroom), the Land Rover Defender 130 is about Rs 11 lakh more than the equivalent Defender 110. Moreover, as it’s restricted to two engines and two trim levels (HSE and X), your choice is much simpler than most other Land Rover models, whose variants run into the dozens. The prices, however, are on the high side – similar money would get you a BMW X7 or Mercedes-Benz GLS.

    The Defender 130 is the logical, historical completion of the Defender family.

    While a proper comparison test will reveal how the Defender 130 matches up to those popular large SUVs, we can objectively tell you that its interior doesn’t quite have the bling or in-your-face wow factor of either of them, nor the second-row comfort. You need to turn to Range Rover for that. What the Defender does offer is a more spacious third row (and yet more boot space too), as well as a go-anywhere ability that few can match. It still has quality, and lots of tech too; it’s just not as in your face, opting for a more functional, rugged look instead.

    The bigger conundrum buyers will no doubt have is whether to stretch to the 130 over the 90 and 110 models, because for all its capability, it’s really the Defender’s cool factor that buyers want, and all three variants deliver that. For many, the 110 will be big and practical enough, and you can even specify the aforementioned ‘plus two’ seats. So then who is the 130 for? It's for those who put function over form and want the most practical luxury SUV there is. The 130 is the logical (and historical) completion of the Defender family, and simply adds more utility to the most utility-focused sub-brand of the Land Rover portfolio.

    Tech Specs

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