Land Rover Defender
1 Nov 2009
The re-release of the Defender 90 short-wheelbase in late-2009 was not a continuation of the ‘retro’ vogue so much as it was the past re-occupying the present. In looks, this car had changed very little from the 1948 original.
Its antiquated design ensured the polarising nature of the Defender 90. On one hand, its legendary toughness and its charm, on the other its lack of modern tech – no airbags, for instance – and not insubstantial starting price of $44,990.
The 90 sat on a 2360mm wheelbase, shorter than the 2794mm for the 110 models and 3225mm for the long-wheelbase Defender 130 models released in Australia at the tail end of 2007.
Standard features included a dual-range gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive, a locking centre differential, anti-lock brakes, traction control, an anti-stall system and power steering.
Luxuries ran to a CD player, air-conditioning, rubber floor mats, electric front windows, remote central locking, a heated rear window, a rear wiper with washer, cloth seats, a cubby box with cupholders, a folding rear step, mud flaps, headlight levelling and a perimetric alarm with an immobiliser.
Based on the heavily re-engineered L316 Defender launched in November 2007, the 90 wagon gained all of the interior and drivetrain refinements of the biggest update of the 1948 Land Rover design to date. Power came courtesy of a 2.4-litre 16-valve common-rail four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit derived from Ford’s VM Transit van range.
Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox (the only transmission on offer), it delivered 90kW of power at 2200rpm and 360Nm of torque at 2000rpm – with 315Nm of the latter available from 1500 to 2700rpm.
The combined fuel consumption average was 10 litres per 100 kilometres, while the carbon dioxide emissions rating was 266 grams per kilometre. The tank held 60 litres.
The 90 wagon’s suspension system was a live beam axle with single rate coil springs, telescopic hydraulic dampers and a Panhard rod, holding up alloy wheels shod with 235/85 R16 tyres. Its length/width/height measurements were 3894/1790/2021mm front and rear track width were 1486mm ground clearance was rated at 323mm the wading depth maximum was 500mm the approach/ramp breakover/departure/traverse angles were 47/147/47/35 degrees and maximum braked/unbraked towing capacity was 3500/750kg.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
When it was new
Land Rover models