Since 1990, the name Defender has stood for one of the most original and indestructible off-road vehicles that Land Rover have ever produced. Over a total of almost 70 years, the model, previously known only by its brand name, was only ever cautiously developed further – until issues with pedestrian protection finally sealed its demise at the beginning of 2016.
In the meantime however, Land Rover launched the completely new successor last year which, with its distinctive design and first-class off-road capability, honors the legacy of its legendary ancestor. With the Defender DP 500, which has been extensively modified both technically and visually, we at MANHART Performance show that the new off-roader can also be at the top of its game on the road.
The basis for the model presented is a Defender P400 AWD in the long, five-door body variant 110, whose three-litre, in-line six-cylinder petrol engine generates an impressive 400 hp and 550 Nm even in standard condition thanks to turbocharging. Plenty of power then, but we are nonetheless stepping up the pace at this point by remapping the Defender’s engine control software. This increases the power of the unit to a remarkable 512 hp and 710 Nm, which puts the car on par with the top model, which is powered by a five-litre supercharged V8.
With the MANHART stainless steel exhaust system, which is still in preparation and will be available with either carbon or ceramic-coated tailpipes, the Defender will also have a much more distinctive and dominant acoustic appearance. While the vehicle presented has the standard configuration, we will implement a brake upgrade on request. With regards to the chassis, there is also an optimization of the factory air suspension, including lowering by 30 millimeters – either by adjusting the software or with the help of coupling rods.
Visually, the DP 500 is particularly eye-catching with its new wheel set: MANHART Forged Line rims in 10×24 inch, with a light grey finish and 295/30ZR24 tyres. For those who prefer a smaller wheel set that is also more suitable for off-road use, there is the Concave One in 10.5×22 inch with black finish and gold trim and 295/40 tyres, which is mounted on the rear as a spare wheel. Further visual accents are set on the one hand by masculine wing flares, which give the Defender considerably broader shoulders and – like all other exterior components and the engine cover – are painted in body colour, and on the other hand by decorative silver stripes applied to the black bodywork.
Last but not least, we refined the interior with a high-quality leather/Alcantara interior including individually selectable accents. In addition, there is a set of electrically operated MANHART ErgoMed front seats from RECARO for the driver and front passenger, including heating and cooling as well as integrated airbags.