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Land Rover working on V8 Defender: report

Bent-eight power could return to the Land Rover Defender, though it could only be for a low-volume special.

4 months ago
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William Stopford
Journalist

The new Land Rover Defender is hardly wanting for power, particularly when equipped with its available turbocharged inline-six.

Nevertheless, there’s always room for something more extravagant and Land Rover has just the ticket: a V8 Defender.

Autocar reports such a vehicle is in development, something that should appeal to both lovers of rough-and-ready V8 off-roaders like the Toyota LandCruiser 70-Series and Hollywood favourites like the Mercedes-AMG G63.

The outlet spotted an undisguised Defender prototype that looked stock, except for a quad exhaust system like those on V8-powered Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.

Some sleuthing confirmed the vehicle is registered as having a 4999cc petrol engine, likely the supercharged AJ 5.0-litre V8 from the Range Rover Sport SVR.

That’s noteworthy as the factory that produces said engine – Ford’s Bridgend facility in the UK – is closing down and therefore the engine will soon be discontinued.

Autocar reports JLR is on the cusp of replacing the engine with a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 sourced from BMW, though it won’t be used in the Defender. Instead, the bent-eight SUV will use the blown 5.0-litre and be a low-volume special.

A low-volume special, mind you, that isn’t being developed by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations. Instead, the existing Defender engineering team is working on it.

That means it mightn’t have the same level of firepower as the Range Rover Sport SVR (above), which produces 423kW and 700Nm

Autocar predicts the Defender V8 will have closer to 372kW, which still stacks up relatively well next to another outrageously fast all-terrain vehicle, the 430kW Mercedes-AMG G63.

JLR has yet to officially confirm any such vehicle is in development but if it does reach production, it likely won’t do so before 2021 as JLR understandably prioritises hybrid models. 

If it makes the trip here, it’ll be the first time a Defender has been offered with a V8 in Australia in approximately 30 years. 

Other markets have been able to enjoy the sound of a bent-eight from underneath a Defender’s bonnet more recently, however. Land Rover’s Classic division produced 150 resto-modded Defender Works models in 2018, each with a 298kW 5.0-litre V8.

The Defender V8 will also serve as a consolation for those who were looking forward to the Discovery SVX.

The SVX was a supercharged V8-powered, off-road-oriented version of the Discovery that was axed last year before it could reach production.