First Drive: 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 in the UAE
The 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 arrived in the UAE this year and is the third Defender variant currently being sold in the GCC market. To recap, there is the Defender 90 and the Defender 110, both of which debuted in 2020. The Defender 130 more closely relates to the 110, as it shares the same wheelbase but adds extra room at the back to seat eight passengers comfortably—the Defender 110 tops out at seven.
Land Rover assures us the Defender 130 was not an afterthought and that the Defender 130 was always in the pipeline to go into production, with just the pandemic and the subsequent chip shortage delaying the release of the vehicle.
At first glance, you will immediately notice the elongated body structure after the rear wheels. Overall, It is 340 mm longer than the Defender 110. There is nothing else to report regarding the styling, as everything is pretty much the same. While most will agree the 90 is the best-looking one, the Defender 130 is still a charming-looking SUV, combining ruggedness with a premium touch.
The interior follows the other Defender variants, with intelligently placed cup holders and storage spaces everywhere. The third-row seating is good enough for three adults. Access can feel tricky for taller people to get in there, but it’s fine for people under 6 feet.
The rear cargo room for the Defender 130 sits at 1,232 litres with the seats up and 2,291 litres with the rear seats removed. For comparison, the 110 has 975 litres of cargo room and 2,277 litres when the optional third-row seats are removed. It may not seem much different, but the 130 does offer much more comfortable third-row seating.
Land Rover Defender 130 Engine Specifications
We are getting the Defender 130 P400 variant currently in the Middle East. Under the hood, it gets a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine with mild-hybrid tech, which aids in eliminating turbo lag. However, the car is not tuned for breaking acceleration records but towards comfort and smooth driving experiences.
Still, Land Rover does claim the Defender 130 can go from 0 to 100 kph in 6.3 seconds, so it is not exactly slow. The 8-speed automatic transmission is brilliant and seems to be downshift and upshift to the right gear most of the time during acceleration inputs.
Land Rover Defender 130 off-road
The Defender 130 does get several off-roading programs of Land Rover’s Adaptive Dynamics and Terrain Response system. The longer body does come at a small cost, as it eliminates some of the departure angles at the rear.
The departure angle of the Defender 110 equipped with air suspension is 40 degrees when raised. The Defender 130, which comes with air suspension as standard, sees the max departure angle drop to 28.6 degrees.
Besides that element, the Defender 130 is still a very capable off-roader. We drove through the desert in soft-sand conditions and minor dunes without deflating the tyres, and it easily handled it.
Having driven the Defender 110 in more extreme conditions, the 130 can easily match its offroading prowess, provided with an extra bit more caution due to the rear overhang. The Terrain Response system is very good, giving confidence to new and casual off-road drivers, who may get intimidated by its big size and 2,690 kg weight.
Ride & Handling
The air suspension also makes on-road driving a peach, providing a decent level of comfort. The steering is pretty accurate and surprisingly quite sharp. It is also not overly soft, which we prefer, and the brakes provide a good level of bite when pressed at the beginning.
Acceleration does feel lazy initially, but once in the higher rpms, it quickly picks up speed. The suspension is on the softer side, so expect some body roll in the corners, but it still feels much better than a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon.
The Land Rover Defender 130 is perfect for this region, as it gives you comfort and luxury and provides the option to go on some adventures off the trail with your loved ones. The third row certainly offers more space for adults to sit comfortably. The extra length does come at a premium, though, as Land Rover Defender 130 comes with loads of options as standard. There is currently only one trim available, priced at AED 412,000 in the UAE and SAR 420,000 in Saudi Arabia.
What do you think?