Is Land Rover Already Testing a Range-Topping, V8-Powered Defender?

A report says a new top-of-the-line engine for the new Land Rover Defender could arrive as soon as next year.

Land Rover Defender Gear Patrol-Exterior Action-Slide-29
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We’ve heard before that Land Rover is planning a new V8 version of the Defender to rival the Mercedes G-Class. Now, a report from U.K. outlet Autocar confirms that the V8 Defender is coming — and includes what appear to be our first spy shots of Land Rover’s V8 Defender prototype.

As best we can tell, this prototype uses what appears to be Land Rover’s supercharged AJ 5.0-liter V8 engine — the same one found in the likes of the Range Rover Sport SVR. That aging, Ford-made engine goes out of production this year, however, so it may be a stand-in motor to test the chassis. Autocar expects the Defender to get BMW’s 4.4-liter V8 found in the X6 M as part of Jaguar Land Rover’s new engine-sharing agreement with the Bavarian Motor Works..

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Land Rover, according to the report, intends to use a version of that BMW-sourced V8 making around 500 horsepower. That would be around 100 hp more than the current top-spec inline-six model.(Curiously, JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division will reportedly not be directly involved in the V8 Defender’s development.)

Other details likely to make it to production from the prototype include the quad exhaust pipes and the larger wheels. Air suspension should be standard, as well. It’s not clear whether Land Rover will offer the V8 on the smaller Defender 90, but given how well that worked with the last Defender, we’re guessing it’s likely.

Expect the V8 Defender to start above $120,000, and arrive in late 2021 at the earliest.

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