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First drive: Prindiville Land Rover Defender. Image by Max Earey.

First drive: Prindiville Land Rover Defender
Prindiville Design rethinks the Land Rover Defender, creating an icon with far fewer compromises

   



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| First Drive | London, England | Prindiville Land Rover Defender |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

The Defender is long past its best, but Prindiville Design's Limited Edition shows there's life in the old bus yet with an extensive overhaul and detailed enhancements. It's the best Defender we've driven, Land Rover should take note...

Key Facts

Pricing: 52,000
Engine: 2.4-litre TDI turbodiesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: two-door off-roader
Rivals: Nissan Patrol, Range Rover Sport, Toyota Land Cruiser
CO2 emissions: 266g/km
Combined economy: 29mpg
Top speed: 110mph
0-62mph: 10.0 seconds
Power: 190hp at 3,250rpm
Torque: 460Nm 2,470rpm

In the Metal: 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Land Rover's Defender is an icon, and Prindiville recognises that, its styling overhaul of the off-roader being remarkably subtle. Effective though, the changes to it including LED lighting in the bumper, cool new front lights and housings and a new grille, revised rear lights, running boards, five-spoke 18-inch wheels and less aggressively treaded Michelin road (rather than off-road) tyres. There's a slight drop in the suspension height too - between 1-2 inches depending on what you specify - which alone enhances the Defender's looks.

Though based in this case on the hardtop '90' model Prindiville can accommodate pretty much any request you desire. The interior is where the biggest changes are obvious, featuring new seats, leather trimming and more serious in-car entertainment. It'd be wrong to ever call a Defender luxurious, but the Prindiville is about as close as you'll get. Manoeuvring it is easier too, thanks both to a reversing camera and a smaller steering wheel - making getting lock on much less of an elbow-to-door bruising experience.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

Land Rover Defenders are the automotive equivalent of a hammer: simple and tough. The Prindiville Design version retains that, yet finesses the entire experience. More than a mere engine and suspension job, Prindiville has worked hard on the details. There are new engine mounts to help reduce vibration and harshness, while soundproofing also helps calm the clatter from the 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine. The unit itself has been extensively tweaked, with a remap, a larger turbo, new intercoolers and radiator and a bespoke stainless steel exhaust. The result is 190hp and 450Nm of torque, though more than anything it's the new found refinement that's key to the Prindiville's appeal.

For all the additional performance on offer (plenty of it, even if the gearing could do with being a bit longer) it's the quietness that's so surprising. Creator Alex Prindiville wanted the occupants to be able to 'hold a conversation inside' and at town speeds that's certainly possible, the smoothness on offer being the Prindiville Defender's biggest selling point. Relatively of course, as it's still far from whisper quiet, but it's significantly less noisy and harsh inside, which adds enormously to its usability.

The corresponding increase in comfort is tangible, and the greater luxury of the interior thanks to the extensive re-trim adds to its appeal. Simple, but clever, touches like a smaller steering wheel make steering and getting in and out easier, even if the turning circle remains comically bad. The ride remains fairly bouncy, but Prindiville's own springs, damper settings and new anti-roll bars do enhance the handling; this a Defender that can take a corner with some expectation of getting around it at a decent speed. Six-pot brake callipers and 'sport' discs also mean the Prindiville Defender actually stops, which is no bad thing.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

52,000 for a Land Rover Defender might seem preposterous but Prindiville's changes do rather transform it into a more useable day-to-day proposition. If you're sold on the Defender's looks and utility, yet want something a bit more bespoke, much more refined and comfortable then the Prindiville is worth a look. This or a Range Rover Sport? We'd have the Prindiville Defender.

Worth Noting

Only 25 Prindiville Limited Edition models will be produced. Each is likely to be subtly different, with Prindiville offering a number of options and happy to fulfil any customer requirements. There's an automatic option, which sounds like a winner to us, though Prindiville is building a petrol V8 version too for a customer located where fuel prices are less of an issue.



Kyle Fortune. Photography by Max Earey - 13 Apr 2012



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2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.



2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.
 

2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.
 

2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.
 

2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.
 

2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.
 

2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.
 

2012 Land Rover Defender by Prindiville. Image by Max Earey.
 






 

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