Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

Seating for eight is great in the Land Rover Defender 130

Legroom in the additional third row of seats as generous as you can get in an SUV.

Following in the footsteps of its 90 and 110 siblings, the new Land Rover Defender 130 was rolled out locally this year.

After sampled various 90 and 110 models since the new Defender made its debut in 2020, we got to spend a week in the new 130 recently. And our D300 X-Dynamic HSE variant made doubly sure that those who don’t know Land Rover is an official Rugby World Cup worldwide partner do make the connection after seeing all the RWC France 2023 branding on the car.

Ace up Defender 130’s sleeve

The 130 is offered standard as an eight-seater, giving it an one-seat edge over seven-seat SUVs. The eight-seat configuration is made up of three-seat benches in both the second and third row.

Land Rover Defender 130
Legroom in the rear of the Defender 130 is as generous as it comes. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

The additional space created inside the cabin means that the Defender 130 is at 5 358 mm all of 340 mm longer than the 110. To put its length into perspective, the 130 is 58 mm longer than the long-wheelbase Toyota Quantum minibus!

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Unlike previous iterations of the Defender, where the model number referred to the length of the wheelbase in inches, the new 130 shares a 3 022 mm wheelbase with the 110. With the front overhang staying the same 845 mm as the 110, the 130’s rear overhang is at 1 491 mm a full 600 mm longer than its shorter sibling.

This extra length at the rear is probably the one thing that will bother potential buyers the most, as we did get the odd “looks like a hearse” banter during its weeklong stay at The Citizen Motoring.

Generous legroom

Ground clearance is 291mm the electronic air suspension enabling with a maximum articulation of 430 mm. It also features a wading depth of 900 mm.

Defender 130
The Defender 130 does have a significant overhangs at the rear compared to its sibling. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

While legroom in the third row of any SUV offering three rows of seats will always be up for debate, the legroom in the third row of the Defender 130 is probably as generous as you could get. Having the third row up still leaves 389 litres for luggage behind them. That is more than your average hatchback offers.

This number goes up to 1 232 litres with the third-row seats folded flat, and 2 291 litres with the second and third flat.

The light filtered through the Defender 130’s signature alpine windows and two standard sunroofs add to the sense of space in the rear. A plethora of drinks holders, second and third row heated seating, Meridian sound system, USB ports and four-zone climate control featuring Cabin Air Purification Plus will help to keep passengers comfortable.

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Heavy on the juice

Up front, a standard 11.4-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen allows the driver to fine-tune Land Rover’s clever Terrain Response system.

The Defender 130 D300 is powered by a 3.0-litre straight six turbodiesel engine. It sends 221 kW and 650 Nm to all four wheels via eight-speed automatic transmission.

Land Rover Defender 130
The cabin of the Defender 130 features the 11.4-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen system. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Land Rover says it will sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds and we believe them. But what we find harder to swallow is the claimed fuel consumption of 8.2 L/100 km. We could not get it dip under 15 L/100 km over the course of 300 km.

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Rock solid ride

The ride is as solid as you would expect from a Defender. The plush suspension soaks up the imperfections of our roads like a sponge, while the diesel mill’s smooth torque delivery makes the ride even better. And it handles remarkable well for such a long car too, especially in tight turns.

What we did not like so much was the Defender 130’s brakes. While the powertrain does a good job of pulling this monstrosity weighing a tad over two and half tons, applying the brakes at higher speeds doesn’t quite inspire confidence when you need to reduce speed rapidly.

But then again, a comprehensive list of safety systems does offer peace of mind should something go wrong.

ALSO READ: Land Rover Defender V8 has the bite to match its bark

Take a bow, Defender 130

The R1 935 500 Defender 130 D300 X-Dynamic HSE does exactly what it says on the box. It offers comfortable seating for eight occupants over and above all the goodies you get in the 90 and 110. Mission accomplished.

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