Fit To Defend: The 2023 Land Rover Defender Carpathian
Cars & motorsport

Fit To Defend: The 2023 Land Rover Defender Carpathian

Land Rover’s new Defender Carpathian combines unmatched off-road capabilities with menacing style and V8 performance, making it the ultimate getaway vehicle for any Bond villain or local hero.

By Nate Chapnick

The Land Rover Defender can trace its roots back to 1948 when the iconic off-roader launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show. For over 70 years, its ruggedness and versatility have made it a favorite among adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts.

However, the Defender's utilitarian design has also caught the eye of another group: the world's most notorious onscreen villains. In fact, the Defender has been featured in several James Bond movies as the preferred mode of transportation for the bad guys.

With its imposing presence, off-road capabilities, and distinctive design, it is easy to see why the Defender’s flagship Carpathian Edition will become a popular choice for adventurous souls. Here’s a “For Your Eyes Only” dossier.

Power Play

The Defender Carpathian is the most powerful Defender ever built. At its heart is a silky smooth 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine that makes 518 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. The Defender’s low supercharger whine is music to your ears as it launches from zero to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds and maxes out at 149 miles per hour. Quad exhaust pipes only enhance the symphony.

In the Field

The Defender’s monocoque body frame is able to withstand 6.5 tons of snatch load through its satin black tow hooks, perfect for making a speedy getaway when the going gets tough.

Moreover, the Carpathian’s adaptive dynamic air suspension system makes it surprisingly surefooted on pavement, as well. Throw it into a corner and it feels planted; body roll is kept in check by solid anti-roll bars working in tandem with a continuously variable damping system, stiffer suspension bushes, and a new yaw controller that keeps things in check at the limits of adhesion.

Stopping Power

The distinctive xenon blue brake calipers and 20-inch brakes provide impressive halting times and also help the Defender achieve its estimable 7,716-pound maximum towing rating.

The Carpathian’s meaty 275/45R-22 Continental CrossContact RX tires are super grippy and can even manage extra-tricky off-road feats. The rubber is mounted on unique 22-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels that are engraved with the word “Defender” on one of the spokes.

Tough Tasks

While most of these gorgeous special-edition Defenders will not spend a lot of time off-roading, knowing that your Defender 90 can take you nearly anywhere on the planet is what makes the Defender, well, a Defender. Land Rover’s intelligent Terrain Response 2 system can recognize the surface conditions and configure the vehicle appropriately with no input from the driver.

For high-water crossings, a wade program will automatically adjust the throttle response, lock the driveline, raise the suspension, and set the climate control system to recirculate the cabin air, allowing the Defender a world-class maximum wading depth of 35.4 inches.

Gear in the Rear

The Defender’s signature rear exterior mounted full-size spare tire is a classic Defender design trait. The design is also functional by freeing up space in the rear cargo area, allowing the two-door Defender to swallow up to 58.3 cubic feet of cargo area when the second-row seats are folded.

The rear tire is flanked by two sets of stacked square LED tail lamps; the smaller outer lamps are there to help achieve U.S. safety regulations for rear visibility because of the rear-mounted spare tire.

Carpathian Comfort

The V8 Carpathian Edition comes with unique Ebony Leather and Miko Suedecloth seats, an Alcantara-wrapped four-spoke steering wheel with satin chrome gearshift paddles, and a leather-covered airbag housing.

The 11.4-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen infotainment system is quick to respond and easy to use. We especially liked the Defender’s 3D surround camera system, which features new 3D perspective views to better spot potential obstacles. A cosseted experience is to be expected, whatever the driving circumstances.

Curb Appeal

The Carpathian Edition Defender features unique Carpathian gray paintwork with a satin protective film and a gloss black contrast roof, hood, and tailgate. In an apt exclusive move, Land Rover is making those key details available only on the $115,300 Carpathian Edition Defender.

The Timepiece Connection

While not specific to the Carpathian Edition Defender, 2020’s non-limited edition Zenith Defy El Primero 21 collaborative timepiece could certainly match up with the meanness and leanness of this Defender special edition.

For a start, it boasts matte-finish titanium, minimalist/techy/almost scientific gauging and indexing; a stealthy gray-with-orange details presentation; knubbly tire-tread rubber strap; and a wheel-spoke rotor visible through the case back. It was introduced when the new vision of the Land Rover Defender was first shown to the world a few years ago and retailed for $13,400.

Will there be another Zenith/Land Rover collab for the special Carpathian? Sorry, that’s top secret.

For more information, please visit the Land Rover website.

(Images © Land Rover)

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