Land Rover Defender Blog

Land Rover Defender 2.4 TDCI Puma Review

What is the TDCI Puma Defender like to own and drive?

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

March 2, 2015

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year
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The Puma engined Defender was released in 2007 and will be the last engine fitted to production line Defenders (albeit the 2.2 variant). It's been over a year since we purchased our own 2.4 TDCi Duratorq 110 Defender and so far it's caused very few problems, the only jobs we've done are:

  • Replaced the clutch (upgraded to the latest part number, see the video)
  • Fitted a dog guard
  • Fitted a rad muff
  • Installed an Alpine radio
  • Carried out a Land Rover gear change technical bulletin
  • Serviced the vehicle

And that's it. Quite a straightforward year, for a Land Rover. We've travelled to France (twice), Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Scottish highlands, racking up a fair number of miles. We've also taken it on some greenlanes, so what's the TDCI like?

Engine

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Let's start with the engine. It's ok. It's not our favourite Land Rover (Or Ford) engine ever (that would be the TD5 and something from Cosworth respectively). It's a pretty tight 4 cylinder engine, that has sufficient power. The specs are similar to the TD5 but it somehow doesn't feel quite as powerful or quite as torquey. It tows ok, but you'll never feel like you have surplus power under foot or be blown away by it's performance. Maybe that's because we had a good example of a TD5 previously, or because the TD5 makes a lot more noise - so it feels more spritely (more on that later), but generally, the engine is ok. A lot of Puma drivers agree that you need to really rev the engine to make good progress.

Fuel economy is as expected, returning a solid 25-30MPG around town typically and 30 upwards on longer journeys. Again, not really an improvement on the TD5.

Then there's the sound. Somehow, the 200 / 300 TDI and the TD5 sound right in a Land Rover. You can hear a Land Rover coming without even needing to look. The TDCI is a different ball game. With a straight through exhaust and the CAT removed, they sound awesome. But in standard guise, we're forever spinning round to look at a Defender only to see a scrap-metal 'recycling' Transit van...

Off-road, this engine works really well though, it never struggles - just like a Defender engine should be.

Overall, this was a safe engine choice for the Defender, it would have been nice to have one of the Discovery / RR Diesel V8 engines or even the 3.2 Puma, but it's ok. Worthy of sitting on the engine rubbers of the last Defender iteration.

Sound proofing

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There's more soundproofing on the TDCI. There are panels on the underside of the front cab and some sound proofing on the wheel arches too. It's not a lot, but it does make a difference. The engine tone in the cab is much lower and Ben says he can now hear the rumble of the Cooper STT tyres on the road, something he'd never noticed in the TD5. You can also have a chat with a passenger sat in the back, even at motorway speeds, due to the TDCi engine, the new 6 speed box and a little extra sound proofing combined.

Interior & Dash

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 17.49.44

The interior on the Puma actually resembles a proper car! It's a bit of a Marmite situation, some drivers hate that it takes an inch or 2 of valuable leg room. We don't mind it. Then again, Ben's only 6 foot and Heather (our camera operator) is about 5"10. The drivers seat on this 110 has MUD UK seat rails fitted by the last owner, these make a big difference. For owners of vehicles with bulkheads or truck cabs though, space is more limited. Land Rover dipped into a few parts bins here, the instrument cluster for example is from the Discovery 3.

2 dedicated heating vents point permanently into the rear cab. Passengers in the back have (for the first time ever) complained of being too warm! There's also 2 movable dash vents for those travelling in front. The best thing about this dash has to be side window demisters. How Land Rover made the Defender so long without them is beyond me.

On the side panel of the dash sits a small 1inch square vent that blows air directly on the windows, right in the area that you look to see the wing mirrors, and it proves very effective. You can clear heavy condensation in minutes and it won't return for the rest of the journey!

The heater seems to have had an upgrade too, it's the hottest heater I've ever come across in a car. Air output is powerful and the air is certifiably hot! Which is good, as there are still drafts of cool air around the door seals!

Gear Box

mt82

The Gearbox is a mixed bag. Having 6 gears on the motorway in particular is brilliant. The Puma is limited to 86mph and it can actually reach that speed! We tested that on the autobahn. However, the 1st gear is very low, ok for towing but you find that, like most Land Rovers, setting off in 2nd is quite normal. The only problem is that the MT82's 2nd gear is quite high and the car in standard form feels as though it struggles when attempting this. Gear changes are clunky, there's even a technical bulletin (LTB00585, issued 22 AUG 2013) issued by Land Rover to address this problem.

This adjustment adds 2 small (and cheap - around £1 for both spacers) bushings that help remove a bit of play from the gear selector. We also made sure to dismantle all the gear linkages and properly grease them at the same time. Finally, changing the oil in the gearbox and transmission box helped to further improve the gear changes.

Our Puma has had a new clutch, it's a fairly common problem as earlier models had 2 different clutches fitted that were simply not up to spec. The 2.2 Puma received a revised clutch that is much stronger and this can be retrofitted to the older 2.4. After replacing the clutch, gear changes feel much better.

Tax

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Tax on the TDCI in the UK varies. Most utility models benefit from the lower, commercial tax. However, the 2008 Utility Land Rovers slipped through a bizarre loophole, that means they are classed as a private vehicle and charged at a much higher rate. Expect diesel tax to increase over the coming years as governments crack down on city and town air pollution.

Radio & Sound system

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The radio in the standard spec 2.4 and 2.2's seems to be the same radio / CD player that came with the TD5. The speakers too are not hugely improved, the extra sound proofing perhaps helping the audio slightly but any changes are barely perceptible. The XS models come with an Alpine headunit that features bluetooth audio streaming and we've dropped one of these in as they can be picked up on eBay quite reasonably. Having more multimedia options on long journeys helps the time pass.

Common Faults

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The Puma still suffers with general Land Rover Defender centric problems.

  • Leaking body panels result in wet carpets
  • Steel and aluminium meet, causing accelerated corrosion
  • The chassis seems to be quicker to rust than previous models due to what some report as "less corrosion protection" from new
  • Many owners complain of excessive backlash in the drive train
  • There have been problems with early model clutches
  • Ensure you service your puma frequently and keep up to maintenance (as with any vehicle, especially Defenders that are used hard).

Have a look on Land Rover enthusiast forums, such as Defender2.net for more information

Overall

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 17.46.37

Would we recommend a Puma? Yes. Are there problems with the engine and box? Occasionally, as with any car, you can get a good or a bad one. The improvements made to the vehicle make a huge difference to the overall driving experience. You don't feel like you're wrestling a 5 tonne rhino any longer just driving to the shops. Overall, it's a worthy addition to the Defender line.

Related items for sale on eBay

Land Rover Defender TDCI RHD Puma bulkhead, no rust
Land Rover Defender TDCI RHD Puma bulkhead, no rust
$2,995.00
Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon Mid Crossmember pre tdci (2007) YRM 053A
Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon Mid Crossmember pre tdci (2007) YRM 053A
$217.68
Land Rover Defender TDCI (< 2007 DBL post) seat cover in GREY
Land Rover Defender TDCI (< 2007 DBL post) seat cover in GREY
$96.50
Land Rover Defender Pre 2007 (Pre TDCI single post) seat cover in BLACK
Land Rover Defender Pre 2007 (Pre TDCI single post) seat cover in BLACK
$96.50
Land Rover Defender TDCI Steering Wheel LR #2697
Land Rover Defender TDCI Steering Wheel LR #2697
$250.00
Land Rover Defender Pre 2007 (Pre TDCI single post) seat cover in DPM CAMO
Land Rover Defender Pre 2007 (Pre TDCI single post) seat cover in DPM CAMO
$96.50

11 Comments

  1. Sally says:

    Thank you so much for this very interesting review.

    My first landy I bought in 1996 was a 1972 short wheel base petrol Station wagon, (named Bruce, sorry, naming your landy is a girl thing) loved it, MASSIVE wheels, no power steering or assisted brakes, virtually no braking power going down steep hills towing horse in trailer, thankfully trailer had it’s own brakes, and we survived to tell the tale, albeit hair raising at the time. The windows didn’t wind down they slid back & forth.

    Second landy bought in 2001 was an R reg Tdi Defender 90, (named Rose as deep red rose coloured), sun roof, alloy wheels, loved it, had it seven years ’til it was on back of low loader twice in a week for different problems. Confidence in it dropped a tad.

    Third landy bought 2008 was a Y reg Td5 Defender 90, (Rosetta, almost identical colour to Rose), loved it, sun roof, alloy wheels, nippy 5 cyclinder, tho a bit noisy & “hysterical” sounding at high speed, (Tdi much quieter), very nippy & lovely engine making all sorts of weird and wonderful noises, everyone knew it was me arriving by the Td5 unique noise. Towed beautifully.

    Well Rosetta failed her MOT last week, massive bill – new back cross member & various bits all adding up to £600 parts, £1,000 labour & VAT. Ouch. In for repairs.

    Loan vehicle from garage a new ish Defender 90 with Puma engine, no sun roof, electric windows, central locking, massive console, horrid gear box, horrid clutch, horrid engine. Has to be driven hard and revs kept up otherwise it’s apt to complain almost stall. I am SO disappointed.

    Your review confirms my thoughts, I’m glad it isn’t just me. A Defender should sound like a landrover, not a Ford van.

    Belly ache over, I had considered exchanging my Td5 for a new model, don’t want to now. Shame.

    Again thank you for your unbiased, informative review, very much appreciated.

    Very many thanks and best wishes.

  2. chris bruchez says:

    I purchased my first Defender last summer, a 110 utility xs 63 plate which has the Puma 2.2 engine. I previously had a LR322 range which was a magnificent vehicle but i just love my new Defender. As for horrid engine and gearbox?……
    …please! This thing pulls like a train, especially in 6th gear and 30 mpg no problem. I tow an ifor williams ct170 full size tilted trailer also and the defender tows beautifully!
    I was thinking of a BAS remap, but the way mine performs as standard, I’m thinking whats the point?

  3. Peter Adamson says:

    I have a 2014 Puma 110 Stationwagon XS which I fitted a top of the range Alpine media set with GPS, CD, DVD, BT Audio and bluetooth Phone. Now have done 12,000 odd miles and have noticed a big improvement in the torque and power as the engine loosened up. It was appauling when just new, gutless! Now really willing and capable of overtaking cars! Like Chris above, I had thought of remap but now fell it is not neccisary.

    • Andrey says:

      I had the same feeling with that described by Peter.

      I think this is due to the engine-running SW tuned in such a way so that it releases more power and torq from the engine as it gets run in; kind of a fool proof.

      Bought my 110 SW 2.2l new in Moscow; having done 11 th kms now.

  4. Geoff Burns says:

    I’ve had most landis over the last 40 yrs but between the td5 and puma the Puma is definitely more a drivers vehicle. The 6 speed box is superb for motorway driving against the R380. The puma engine has plenty power and will sit on 70 / 80 all day. Pretty sure the storm would with a 6 speed box to. The electronics in the puma are a disaster. Constant aggro with engine management light on. Egr valve, air flow, speed censor all the usual rubbish. The storm is far easier to cure from these issues. The puma !, Well the ecu doesn’t allow you to do this unless you want to spend a small fortune.

    • Ken says:

      My engine management light comes on and off the mechanic put the scanner on it and said it was airflow is this common apart from that it goes great its 2007 /110

  5. Matthew says:

    Hmm, have a fleet of 18 defenders, about half are Pumas the rest are TD5’s. Spend their lives almost always off road.Pumas have much more usable torque at the low end and do not have huge power hole that the td5s have around 1300 rpm. BUT!! the td5 engine is a much tougher engine frequently getting over 300,000km without issues. No such luck with the Puma engine. Lucky if you get 150,000 before major engine overhaul. Several have lasted less then 80,000. The MT82 six speed is nice though.

  6. soylent green says:

    Sorry but the Puma 2.4 far better engine than the TD5, I have had both defenders for doing line maintenance for BT, found the TD5 great work horse but spent many hours in the garage having work done, now use tdci spends most of its time working, LONG LIVE TDCi

    • Matthew says:

      I look at our shop with 4 TD4 Defenders waiting engine rebuilds with none having more then 150,000Km, Beside them 4 TD5 Defenders with over 300,000km each still running. To drive, I would take the TD4 any day. But the TD5 engine is bullet proof.

  7. Green Land Rover says:

    Hi. Interesting review thank you.

    Just to let you know, the instrument cluster is not from the Discovery 3. It is actually a variant of a Discovery 2 instrument pack under the covers.

    The Defender instrument pack was developed specifically for that vehicle. It takes the electronic signal directly from the gear box sender and calculates the road speed. This is then sent to other ECUs on the CAN bus.

    In a Discovery 3 the vehicle speed (along with many other signals) is received via the CAN bus as it is generated by another ECU (possibly the ABS unit)

  8. David Williams says:

    Strange in that I read so much about the Puma engine and the comments always point to a 4 cylinder, 5 speed. My 2007 Defender is a 5 cylinder, 6 speed Puma engine. Why is there no comments and information about this engine? A friend said he thought my engine was a TD5 but in 2007 Land Rover replaced the TD5 with the Puma engine, correct? DW

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