Driving a 400bhp Land Rover Defender from the new James Bond film is a wild experience
If you watch any amount of television, you’ve probably seen that Land Rover Defender advert. You know, the one with the 4x4s flying through the air, crashing through rivers and rolling end over end, only to drive out the other side.
If you ever needed an advert for the durability of your cars, showing how they survived at the hands of stunt drivers in the new James Bond film No Time To Die is a pretty good way to do it.
While little is known about the cars’ role in the film, the fact each is painted all in black and wearing Russian number plates is probably a decent indication they’re being driven by the ‘baddies’.
And by some comedic twist, because the 10 Defender 110s delivered to the film’s production company were the first off the line, one of the star cars driven by these baddies was VIN 007 – and that’s one of the cars available for us to drive.
Despite our excitement, we’re shepharded towards car 004. A quick Google search informs us that 004 was called Aidan Flemmings and he was murdered by a KGB agent in 1987’s The Living Daylights. Not quite as glamorous as Bond, sadly.
Still, we have stunt driver Jess Hawkins to see us through this experience. The 25-year-old is a successful racing driver, and despite needing a booster seat to see over the dashboard, is one of the most talented, fearless drivers you’ll ever meet.
Watch that advert back and she’s driving the middle Defender that flies through the air at the start. She admitted to being shocked at how big the jump was when she arrived on set, but she went for it, again and again.
The Defenders used by the stunt crew have been heavily modified inside for safety, with a chunky roll cage and very little of the cabin remaining. Getting in is tricky as you step through the roll cage and fall into the racing seat, before strapping in tightly with a five-point harness.
We’re not quite smashing our way through the Russian wilderness, instead taking to a churned up field in Warwickshire, but it’s clear these Land Rovers are tough.
Put your foot down and the tyres spin up, scrabbling for grip as the car’s four-wheel drive system tries to put 400bhp into the earth. The air suspension is the same as you get on the road car, so it’s surprisingly comfortable while being capable.
The techniques take some learning, but under Jess’s enthusiastic instruction we start to get a handle on things. What starts as massive, frustrating understeer soon sees us figuring out when to lift off to get the car turned in and occasionally even initiate a small drift. That being said, we’re mostly flailing hands and near-misses, though.
It’s all over too quickly, but we’re left impressed by both the car and the drivers’ abilities to handle them. The Defender can soak up everything thrown at it but, as I’ve proved in my brief, terrible stint behind the wheel, without these skilled stunt drivers there would be no show.
With No Time To Die delayed until April because of the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll have to wait a little longer than expected to see the chase sequence in full swing. If the short TV spot is anything to go by, it’ll be mighty impressive.