No matter how much owners of the Land Rover Defender sports utility vehicle want their rides to become less adverse – if not actually friendly – to the environment, they really couldn’t. This is primarily because the Land Rover Defender, in its most eco-friendly form, still emits 266 grams of carbon dioxide to the air for every kilometer it travels (when using the 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine).
Fortunately though, an engineering company lurking within the Coventry neighborhood – yes, the place where Jaguar Land Rover is headquartered – is currently working on a project that should allow the Land Rover to become a bit friendlier to Mother Nature. How? Well, JE Motorworks is trying an engine conversion for the Land Rover Defender, replacing the only available mill for the SUV – the 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with the 2.3-liter Ford EcoBoost unit that is fitted on the Ford Mustang and on Ford Focus RS sports models.
While both engines have similar displacements and are four-cylinder units, the EcoBoost unit uses up gasoline (petrol) and the mill on the now discontinued Defender sips on diesel. Comparing their power levels, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine on the Focus RS delivers 350 hp (345 PS or 257 kW) of max output and up to 470 Nm (350 lb.-ft.) of torque. On the other hand, the 2.2-liter diesel mill on the Land Rover Defender churns out 122 PS (90 kW) of max output and 360 Nm of torque. In terms of carbon dioxide emissions, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine returns only 175 g/km on the Ford Focus RS while the 2.2-liter diesel engine emits 266 g/km on the Land Rover Defender 90 (hard top, soft top and pickup).
These figures essentially mean that the EcoBoost unit, even when fitted on the Land Rover Defender, is more powerful both in terms of output and torque, and – as eco-conscious customers would desire – kinder to the environment.
According to JE chairman and chief engineer Jonathan Douglas, the company expects demand for such engine conversion because of the growing pressure for vehicles to be more eco-friendly and of the possibility of high-emission units being banned in some global regions. He added that the company also expects owners of Land Rover Defender to view modern, direct-injection petrol engine as a more eco-friendly alternative.
However, such engine conversion doesn’t simply entail getting the 2.2-liter mill out from the Defender’s engine and fitting in the 2.3-liter EcoBoost. Douglas remarked that there is a need to retain the original character of the Defender, which means the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine should perform in a more tractor-like manner. JE expects to complete the engineering process and offer the conversion before 2017 ends. It would be available with both a manual and the automatic JE six-speed Tiptronic gearbox, with the price for the manual version pegged at less than £20,000.