Twisted De­fender V8 110

A 430bhp De­fender from top to toe in leather? Twisted in­deed

Autocar - - THIS WEEK - RICHARD LANE @_r­lane_

£160k, 430bhp and slick

When Land Rover chose to dis­con­tinue the De­fender af­ter 67 years, Twisted Au­to­mo­tive pur­chased 240 late-build cars straight off the bat. Adapt­ing the Bri­tish icon to be faster (this one does 125mph) and far more lux­u­ri­ous (think f loor-to-ceil­ing leather) has been the York­shire out­fit’s stock-in-trade since 2002 – and with­out stock, there’s no trade.

Not long ago, those 240 cars would have ac­counted for four busy years of pro­duc­tion – the whole­sale changes Twisted makes to the oily as­pects and the in­te­rior are wrought by just 10 tech­ni­cians – but with cus­tomers ever keener for greater lev­els of cus­tomi­sa­tion, it’s now enough for six. Af­ter that? Well, not ev­ery De­fender Twisted breathes on has to be boxfresh, and given that three in ev­ery four cars ever built are still in work­ing con­di­tion… You get the pic­ture.

The re­vised 110 Util­ity tested here is an ex­hi­bi­tion of what Twisted can do for you in 2018. It uses the ul­tra­ver­sa­tile Corvette LS3 crate en­gine de­vel­op­ing 430bhp. All that power in a De­fender? You can have 520bhp if you re­ally want it. Throt­tle re­sponse is a touch baggy and there’s a hia­tus in the torque de­liv­ery as the sixspeed auto lines up an­other ra­tio, but what theatre. Ad­mit­tedly it’s not the sweet­est cal­i­bra­tion, but it’s not bad. Stick­ing to the man­ual would make it even more in­volv­ing and eas­ier to ride this throaty en­gine’s torque.

Fur­ther up­grades in­clude dif­fer­en­tials, prop- and drive­shafts, a big-bore twin-exit ex­haust, Al­con brakes and air sus­pen­sion from Dutch firm VB Air. The last of those not only al­lows the body to be use­fully low­ered but con­trib­utes to rolling re­fine­ment lev­els that are noth­ing short of mes­meris­ing com­pared with a fac­tory-spec De­fender. The nearver­ti­cal wind­screen and atro­ciously in­di­rect steer­ing (though the fit­ment of a smaller and more el­e­gant Mo­tolita piece helps) never quite let you for­get what car it is you’re driv­ing, but then you wouldn’t want that.

On the road, this is a car to have par­ents hur­riedly guid­ing their kids back from the pave­ment’s edge – a task made tougher by th­ese lit­tle blighters cran­ing their necks to get a closer look. Go be­yond the bull-bars and the Cooper tyres, how­ever, and you’ll see this is not some mod­i­fied mon­stros­ity. The sheet metal is just lovely – ut­terly smooth, un­pre­ten­tious and with crisply con­trast­ing riv­ets. Else­where, there are few indications of this car’s af­ter­mar­ket roots, but that’s where Twisted ex­cels. Fierce but unas­sum­ing, and to­tally de­sir­able if you can stom­ach a price to match that of a Lam­borgh­ini Urus. Nat­u­rally, ra­tio­nal minds need not ap­ply.

Twisted’s cre­ations are ad­dic­tively good fun and re­tain the De­fender’s char­ac­ter

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