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XCAR: Muddy mayhem: The Land Rover Defender in its element
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XCAR: Muddy mayhem: The Land Rover Defender in its element

6:51 /

The Defender may be on the cusp of being discontinued, but that doesn't mean it isn't capable of off-road action. Quite the opposite in fact, as XCAR found out at Easton, where Land Rover challenges its vehicles.

Hi and welcome to another entry into our defender diaries. Now here at Xcar our long termer is this. Our defender pick-up truck. But to use it properly you need some lessons. It's not like modern Land Rover products with bells and whistles. Automatic gearboxes, hill descent control, nothing like that. This is a fully analog manual beast. To use it properly we've come here to Eastnor to the Land Rover Experience where we're going to be taught exactly how to use this car as it was meant to be. Eastnor has functions as the proving ground for all Land Rover products for decades. And its challenging terrain can throw anything at you you'd ever want your defender to be able to handle. After a quick introduction, it was straight into the car to tackle our first obstacle, hill climb and descent, Right, so. Popping the clutch a little bit so we get some bite. [UNKNOWN] >. Clutch defy it. Leave you, leave your right pedal door. There. Yeah. That's not even a question. Whoa The incredible torque of the low range gearbox allows the Defender to pull itself up the hill with the engine just on idle. Even the deep mud we encountered didn't faze it one bit. Bit more gas. I said John, bit more gas. It's good drawing. Nice drip pan. It's looking good. I thought they said the shallow was this side. [LAUGH] Well done. It's the descent though, on the other side, that can be tricky. Without the modern luxury of electronic hill descent control, all you have to control how quickly you get from the top to the bottom of a steep. Slippery hill is the high compression of the engine using the low wrench gear box and, counterintuitively, the throttle. Use the breaks and as I quickly learned you will lock up the wheels and lose all control. One way or another you're getting from the top to the bottom. Instead of covering the break. You cover the throttle, ready if the wheels lock up to give more power to regain control. Scary at first, but quickly you realize the power of this machine is immense. And with a bit of trust you can let this mechanical wonder get you out of trouble. With that out of the way, it was on to our second obstacle, deep water. [MUSIC] So second gear, take a bit of brake into the. [UNKNOWN] Go in. Just want to see depth levels with this. [MUSIC] With an impressive wading depth the defender does need much more than a prod in the right direction to take these muddy depths. The keys to getting through are steady speed and what ever you do don't stop. [MUSIC] If we got a little bit closer. Yeah. The waves, we keep the waves about a meter or two in front. Yeah. That's going to give us the optimum drop in the water. Right. So that's [INAUDIBLE] you hold that speed. There's your wave [MUSIC] [NOISE] [MUSIC] As impressive as the Defender is in taking on deep water it isn't exactly 100% water proof. But hey, nobodies perfect. A little bit of water coming in. No there's not. [LAUGH] No there's not. The end. [LAUGH] The last task of the day would be the trickiest and would rely on complete harmony between man and machine. The obstacle starts as a steep descent, leveling out with a hump before a second drop into a mud-lined trench. Followed by an intimidating long, steep incline. The first step in tackling what lies ahead is reading the terrain and setting a game plan. By figuring out what's going to happen before you take on the obstacle you increase your chances of coming out the other side first time and in once piece. What do, what would you make of our chances of getting out, or what are my chances of getting through in one go? [LAUGH] Slim to none. That's going to be [INAUDIBLE] Okay, okay. Well we'll see. [LAUGH] Be afraid. Be very afraid. [LAUGH] Let's go chef. [LAUGH] Let's do it and go. Okay. I want to get out first time though. First time. With the plan of attack set, and despite both the instructors and the camera crew betting against me being able to make it across first time, it was time to see what the defender and I were really made of. So, how will you go. Watch out! Strike your wheel as soon as you possibly can, stretch out, strike. That's it. Accelerate. That's it. Well done. Now that you're done, back off. Get it to the left more. Nicely done. Okay. [UNKNOWN] Go over that. [MUSIC] Keep going, keep going, keep going. Clear the track here. Come on, come on, come on, come on. [LAUGH] [LAUGH] Rough ride. I didn't think that was gonna work, first time. [LAUGH] [LAUGH] How was that? Oh, that was brilliant. That went. Pitched it so our plan worked, didn't it? Perfectly, yeah. We made it all the way out. And there was a moment right at the top where I thought it was gonna go. Yeah. A good thing we talked about staying with the plan, then. Yeah. and that was, that was a good addition, that, that little bit extra that's. It doesn't necessarily look like you know what you're doing when you break into that but Yeah. I'd spent the whole day traversing the tricky terrain of Eastnor in our trusty Defender and it was incredible to see a long termer in its element. This is what the Defender was built to do and I could feel how happy it was to be there. The amazing tuition from the Land Rover Experience Team helped me use everything the Defender had its disposal properly. Skills which, frankly, are getting lost in an age of driver aids. Well, [LAUGH] there you have it. Whoa, that was quite a day. The Defender might be the most. Simple of all the land rover products. It might have the least bells and whistles, it might not have all the electronic trickery that you can get in a range rover or even a discovery. But, there's enough capability in this car to get you out of almost any difficulty. This is a powerhouse that can get the job done. And it's incredibly fun because it's you doing it. It's, there's no electronic trickery. It's mechanical. It's you, knowledge of what you're doing, and physics. [MUSIC] And a lot of mud, what more do you want? [MUSIC]

Alex Goy is XCAR's Cars Editor. He loves all things on four wheels and has a penchant for British sports cars - the more impractical the better. He also likes tea.

Nick Wilkinson
Video Producer / XCAR

Nick Wilkinson is XCAR's Producer, so can either be found huffing serious quantities of exhaust fumes armed with a camera or making a montage of some kind. His background is in video, and as a film and motorsport nut finds himself in heaven most weekdays

Drew Stearne
Content Director & Editor / XCAR

Drew Stearne heads up the XCAR team and has spent the last 7 years producing content for CNET, GameSpot and many other CBS Interactive sites. He's equally obsessed with fast cars as he is with filming and photography, if he isn't involved with one, he tries to make sure he's involved with the other.