However, anyone who’s ever tried the new Defender off-road knows that, if anything is going to be the SUV’s undoing out in the wild, it’s not the lack of traction. With a good set of tires, the new model can hold its own next to any other vehicle, but it’s actually finding those tires that can prove more difficult than one might expect.
With the top engine (a turbocharged straight-six with a hybrid system) you get on the P400 line, the new Defender is forced to wear large-diameter wheels, drastically reducing the choices for more rugged tires. As you start to look at other powertrain options, however, the possibilities grow, and even though you can’t fit 35s or larger without lifting the suspension, you’ll still feel spoilt for choice compared to P400 owners.
The Defender 90 featured in the clip below uses a straight-six turbodiesel that, strangely enough, only generates 250 hp. The only reason we find that peculiar is because the older Land Rover V6s used to make (slightly) more than that, but it’s probably a tradeoff worth having for the lower weight and improved fuel efficiency.
It does, however, make more torque than the older V6 with 420 lb-ft (570 Nm), so it’s not all downhill in terms of output. And it’ll need it because, despite being the short-wheelbase 90 version, the Defender still weighs a hefty 4,911 lbs (2,228 kg). In 99 percent of situations, too much weight is going to feel like a liability, but in a tug-of-war, it’s actually a plus.
Considering its opponent for the day is also a Defender – albeit slightly older – and an electric one to boot, it’s kind of surprising that the diesel-powered SUV is the heavier of the two. Then again, the body of the classic Defender does completely lack any sort of superstructure, so most of the two tons it does weigh comes from the 100 kWh Tesla battery pack and central-mounted electric motor.
Unlike most other AWD EVs, because it has just one motor, this Defender actually uses drive shafts and no fewer than three torque-sensing limited-slip differentials. However, it still doesn’t have a multi-geared transmission so, unless the drive has a light right foot, it’ll deliver that torque as violently as the phrase “full instant torque” suggests.
Speaking of torque, the EV-converted Defender is second in terms of output with 332 lb-ft (450 Nm), but it does have significantly more power (with 450 hp to the new Defender’s 250 hp, that’s 80% more, to be exact). It also has bigger and better tires, which should prove an advantage considering the tug-of-war is going to be held on grass. Wet grass, no less.
No matter how you look at this, with pros and cons on each side, it’s very difficult to predict which way this will go. And you know what, we’re not going to spoil it for you either. But since we mentioned it in the title, we are going to talk about the surprise at the end.
The winner of the first bout gets to fight another very special opponent. It’s another one of Land Rover’s special 007 editions, a predecessor of the V8 Bond Edition that was just introduced less than two weeks ago. This one, however, was launched back in 2015 when the “Spectre” movie came out and features very similar specs to the electric one. Actually, they’re identical: 450 hp and 332 lb-ft (450 Nm), because the two share the exact same powertrain. However, it’s the heaviest of the trio at 2.6 tons (5.7k lbs) and has even more aggressive tires than the electric one, so it’ll pose a significant challenge to either of the other two.