When you hear or think of the original Land Rover Defender, you automatically think of two engines that absolutely belong to this vehicle: the diesel and the Rover V8. These two engines are iconic staples for the vehicle and are still its most popular engine choices today, albeit with totally new advancements that meet the times.
As some may know, the Land Rover Defender followed its predecessor, The Land Rover Series III, closely in terms of wheelbase, style, and specifications. Like the early versions of the Series III, the first Defender 110s (earlier known as the One Ten) included 2.25L gas and diesel engines (68bhp for the diesel), and then the 3.5L V8 engine option from 1983 – 1984. In 1986, Land Rover introduced its first 2.5L “Turbo-Diesel” engine option to match with competitors. By the 1990s, when the Defender finally earned its name, it launched with the 2.5L turbo-diesel 200Tdi, which was later upgraded to the 111bhp 300Tdi.
By the late 90s, 122bhp five-cylinder Td5 engine was the first standard engine for the Defender, marking the start of the love for the Defender/turbo-diesel combo in Defender enthusiasts everywhere. As improvements to technology and engine blocks continued, the turbo-diesel in the Defender also became more powerful, compliant, and capable, making it a true force for both enthusiasts and SUV lovers alike.
Today, turbo-diesel continues to be an engine option outside of the US for the new 2020 Land Rover Defender with Land Rover’s Ingenium 3L 6-cylinder 249 HP Twin Turbocharged Diesel engine. If you’re wondering, why diesel? It is often seen as one of the most efficient fuel options, and its likeness to an old “workhorse” fits the profile and personality of the Defender perfectly. There have been talks of whether the choice would be given for the new 2020 Defenders sold here in the US, but sadly, it doesn’t seem like it was meant to be. As Motortrend put it, it looks like certain beloved Defender options are forever meant to be “forbidden fruit” for us Americans. But also true to American fashion, where there is a will, there’s a way.
With brands like ECD rebuild and restore the vintage Defender from the ground up, there is an option to get a turbo-diesel engine here in the US in the classic Defender style. In late 2017 the company introduced the 2.8L Cummins turbo-diesel engine to its lineup. The 4-cylinder engine produces 160hp and 267 lb-ft @ 1600-3200 rpm of torque as a reliable diesel option.
The engine option is a great way to bring two classics back together and transformed for a modern daily driving option. While ideally paired with a manual transmission to meet proper nostalgic requirements, the Cummins Defender can also be paired with an automatic transmission. If you love turbo-diesel and the original Defender and you’re looking to get the defender diesel combo here in the US, ECD is a great place to start.
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