Based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, Twisted Automotive has become renowned for its Land Rover Defender-based creations. Last year, company founder Charles Fawcett realised his dream by opening a new showroom in Radley Mews, Kensington.
Following on neatly from this London expansion comes the launch of Twisted’s battery-powered classic Defender. It completes a range that includes V8 and four-cylinder turbo petrol models, all built by hand to each customer’s individual specification.
The trend for electric vehicle conversions has generally centred on using Tesla-sourced parts. However, Twisted took the same approach with its Defender EV as for its other vehicles. This meant finding the best components possible, rather than making do with the easiest option.
Can we just torque?
In this case, Twisted selected a Dana TM4 Sumo electric motor. It develops 268hp, along with a thumping 885lb ft of torque. Short-wheelbase 90 models come with a 61kWh battery, while longer 110 and 130 versions use an 81kWh unit.
Both are charged using a standard Type 2 connector, with the port neatly replacing the old fuel filler. Range for the 61kWh version is 140 miles, with the 81kWh version able to deliver 180 miles. Using a suitable charging device sees the batteries topped up in less than three hours.
Despite the Recaro sports seats, sitting in a Twisted EV will feel reassuringly familiar to anyone who has driven a Defender. Your right elbow still bashes against the side window, while the handbrake lever is down by your ankle. It’s all part of the Defender’s charm, and purists will be pleased to know the electric conversion leaves these quirks intact.
Extra features include an updated multimedia system with satellite navigation, DAB radio and a reversing camera.
Engage Sport mode
The differences become apparent as soon as you pull away, though, with instant torque delivering effortless acceleration. The Land Rover powers on relentlessly, with only its house-brick aerodynamics holding it back at high speeds. With silence from the electric drivetrain, wind noise is the main reminder of how fast you are going.
A control unit in the centre console allows drivers to switch between Eco and Sport modes. Engaging the latter offers a noticeable increase in pace, while the former helps to preserve range.
Regenerative braking also replenishes the battery charge, and means you can slow down without touching the brake pedal. When needed, the brakes themselves are far stronger than anything Land Rover fitted at the factory.
Wade in Chelsea
Being ULEZ-compliant certainly boosts the EV Defender’s appeal to city drivers. And for those who want to venture off-road, this electric version is equally as capable. Like the original, it has four-wheel drive, high- and low-range gearing, and a locking centre differential.
All of the electric components are waterproofed, meaning you can wade depths of up to 900mm.
The substantial cost of the EV Defender is hard to ignore, with prices starting from £225,000 before VAT. Twisted can supply a complete vehicle, or convert your own Defender to electric power. The transformation takes two weeks, and is carried out at the company’s headquarters in Yorkshire.
In isolation, it seems a lot of money for what, to many, simply looks like an old Land Rover. Yet the sheer level of engineering effort that goes into creating the Defender EV does justify the cost.
Twisted’s tagline is ‘The best made better’, and this battery-powered Land Rover exemplifies that. No shortcuts were taken in creating the best vehicle possible.
The end result is a bespoke electric Land Rover that retains the character of the original Defender – and the soul that made it an icon.
John Redfern writes for Motoring Research
PRICE: From £270,000
BATTERY SIZE: 61-81kWh
RANGE: 140-180 miles
CHARGING TIME: 3 hours