The Land Rover Defender Tdci Puma is high on safety

What you need to know:

With better protection from rust, an engine that will be the last of its kind in these defenders, the Land Rover Defender Tdci Puma is worth having. For its enthusiasts, the cost of maintainance might be costly but it is necessary

George Kawuma drives a Land Rover Defender Tdci, commonly known as the Puma. Introduced in 2007, the Puma originally run on a Ford engine from the family of Ford engines known as Pumas, from which its name was derived and is used in a range of vehicles. The name Puma represents the different Ford Puma models. What Land Rover did was modify it a bit to fit the Defender and perform better in off-road conditions.

Kawuma’s Puma’s engine was the last version made in 2015 when the British brand stopped manufacturing the older generation boxy and sharp edged Defenders. Among these was the Land Rover Defender 110.

The Land Rover Defender 2400cc Tdci Puma comes as a seven seater; two front seats, three seats in the middle row and two front facing rear seats that fold to the sides. There is also a variant that runs on a 2200cc engine that was fitted in later models to comply with emissions. In most cases, the more power you have in your car, the less you comply with emissions. As long as it is using fuel, especially diesel, you may not meet emission standards in some countries that are strict with emissions your car releases into the environment. 

Service and maintenance

Because the Puma runs on a Ford engine, Kawuma says that you have to be more careful with the vehicle, especially with service. Its tear and wear is a bit faster than an original Land Rover engine, meaning you have to service on time. Because of its newer technology, you also have to work with the right oils. The preferred engine oil is a synthetic type of the 5W-30 to 10W-40 viscosity grades depending on the regions where it is driven. However, manufacturers also recommend Castrol oil for any of the above grades. Engine oil alone could cost you approximately Shs400,000. If you factor in the filters and some serviceable parts, you need about Shs600,000, and this takes you for a long time.

“Servicing the Tdci is a continuous process that does not just happen when you drive into the fuel station. For instance, because it has amazing torque, parts such as the air filter should be replaced as soon as they get old. Additionally, you must use high octane fuel and a genuine diesel filter. That aside, it has a reliable engine with a timing chain you will not be opening often,” Kawuma explains.  


Because it is newer technology, you need to look out for anything that is wearing out on the Puma, especially with the engine because it is sensitive. It also has other specs that were introduced that were not in previous Defenders. For instance, the engine has more torque compared to some Land Rover Defenders and yet despite the power, there is fuel economy. For instance, in city rounds, you will drive approximately 10 kilometres per litre, which could increase to 12-14 kilometres per litre if you have better driving skills because the engine has enough power even while off-road. 

Secondly, when driving this car, you do not have to engage low range because the car has a lot of torque. However, for good practice, if there are serious off-road challenges, not necessarily competition, engage low range gears and differential lock to help the car not struggle.

“Rather than force it go through an obstacle such as driving through high piles of debris just because it has power, use features that enable it to go through with less force. That way, you reduce wear and tear. When buying such cars, especially from the UK or any country, avoid one that has been used a lot on the farm because they really work hard yet most people do not buy these cars as brand new,” says Fred Mukisa, a Land Rover enthusiast. 

New dashboard

Much as previous Defenders had dashboards that looked like those of armoured cars, the one for the Puma was improved. According to FunRover, an online portal, on the side panel of the dashboard sits a small one-inch 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 will not form for the rest of the journey.

Safety features 

For safety, from the factory, the Puma’s speed is clocked to 140 kilometres because it is not aerodynamic. However, you can disable it because the car can go beyond this speed.

“Unless the feature is removed, if you try to accelerate beyond 140 kilometres per hour, it will not be possible. The vehicle also has a modern touch to it and improved features such as the interior and doors. Unlike doors of older Defenders, newer ones have reinforced metal to prevent rust, doors often rusted easily but those of the Puma are quite resistant to rust because of a reinforced metal element,” says Mukisa.


There is more soundproofing on the TDCI. There are panels on the underside of the front cab and some sound proofing on the wheel arches too. While it is not a lot, it makes a difference. The engine tone in the cab is much lower and you can now hear the rumble of the Cooper STT tyres on the road, something that owners of predicessing models do not enjoy.

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.


The interior on the Puma actually resembles a proper car. It is a bit of a Marmite situation, some drivers hate that it takes an inch or two of valuable leg room. We do not mind it.

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