Land Rover love-in: RAY MASSEY finds out why people are choosing to modernise their Defenders (and three-quarters are women)

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Just because the classic Land Rover Defender has reached the end of the line, that doesn’t mean drivers’ love affair with the original British 4×4 has waned.

Women are among the Defender’s most ardent fans.

They include Alecks Brown, wife of Red Dwarf actor and TV presenter Chris Barrie, who turned to Coventry-based Land Rover engineering specialist J. E. MotorWorks for an upgraded Defender fitted with a special ‘Urban Pack’.

Alecks Brown (left), wife of Red Dwarf actor and TV presenter Chris Barrie (right) pictured with her upgraded Land Rover Defender

Surprisingly, the company says that nearly three-quarters of its orders for the retrofit package are from women who love their Defender, but are less enamoured by its inherent quirks — many of which, it adds, can be eradicated by the 2016 upgrades.

Alecks said she appreciated the Defender’s great visibility, but that driving the standard version ‘felt like a workout at the wheel’, with ‘slow-witted and unsophisticated’ performance with a handbrake ‘that had to go’.

She added: ‘A Defender will always be a Defender — that’s part of the charm — but the range of improvements and upgrades combined turn it into a muchimproved car to drive and to live with.’

The last Land Rover Defender came off the Solihull production line on January 29 2016 ending 68 years of production The Defender has a strong female backing – even the Queen is a long-time admirer of the iconic Land Rover

Her vehicle’s package included a six-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox, buttonoperated electronic handbrake, sound deadening and a more compliant suspension.

Horse power and pulling power were both boosted. Jonathan Douglas, of J. E. MotorWorks, said: ‘We’ve discovered a community of Defender-loving women who were always put off by a car that was designed as utilitarian farm transport.’

The Urban Pack upgrade, including increasing the power to 183bhp, costs £6,654 including VAT.

But if you want the six-speed automatic gearbox too, that takes the total to a pricier £17,286.

Drivers as young as 11 years old can get behind the wheel of a Jaguar XE (pictured) to get a first taste of the basic skills required to be on the road

Jaguar First programme for drivers as young as 11

To help young drivers feel confident behind the wheel, it pays to start them early.

Now, leaping ahead is made easier by the Jaguar First programme, which uses the latest automatic Jaguar XE saloons to teach driving skills to youngsters aged 11 to 17.

They’ll learn techniques such as steering, dealing with junctions and roundabouts. Jaguar Land Rover — as headline sponsor of next Thursday’s London Press Club Ball, supported by the Daily Mail in aid of the Journalists’ Charity — is offering up six onehour lessons for the charity auction.

More experienced drivers may bid for a full day’s Land Rover Experience at Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury and the Malvern Hills.

And car enthusiast Nick Mason, drummer of rock band Pink Floyd and president of the Guild of Motoring Writers, has donated a pair of his signed drumsticks.

For more details, visit the Givergy online charity auction site at pressclubball2016.com

Dump the satnav: the map is back

Ordinance Survey road maps are back after a seven-year stint away

Ordnance Survey’s OS Road map series has returned after a gap of seven years.

The new eight map sheets cover the whole of the UK and will, for the first time, show designated beaches and National Park visitor centres, as well as the Forth Road Bridge, which, until now, has been bizarrely absent.

Nick Giles, managing director of Ordnance Survey Leisure, said: ‘Satnavs and digital mapping are fantastic for getting road users from A to B, but they can be very restrictive when it comes to more leisurely driving and discovering something new.

‘The beauty of the road map is in laying it out on the table to study and plan with.’

He added: ‘We decided the time was right to bring these handy, glovebox-sized maps back.’

According to OS, since 2009 the number of A and primary roads and motorways in Britain has gone down, but their length has increased by 174 miles to 49,674 miles.

The entire length of Britain’s road network is 215,940 miles.

Travelling at an average speed of 40mph, it would take 224½ days to drive every road. Time to fill up!

September car sales up

Clickety click. Undeterred by Brexit wobbles, sales of new cars in the UK during the key 66 plate change month of September rose to a record 469,696 — up 1.6 per cent on the same month last year.

Some 2.15 million cars have already been sold in 2016.