Land Rover unleashes 386kW Defender V8

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Words: Matthew Hansen
25 Feb 2021

After an 18-month wait, Land Rover has finally whipped the covers off its V8-powered Defender — a new performance flagship for the nameplate alongside the existing four- and six-cylinder models.

Let’s get the juicy numbers out of the way quickly. The Defender V8 comes fitted with a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 capable of producing 386kW of power (that’s over 500hp) and 625Nm of torque. All of this comes paired to an 8-speed automatic.

Naturally, it’s rather quick. According to Land Rover’s claims it will accelerate from stand-still to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 240km/h — comfortably making this the quickest Defender produced to date.

Land Rover have done a few things to ensure that the off-road-orientated platform can handle the extra grunt. It comes with larger anti-roll bars, a new yaw controller paired to the active rear differential, and a ‘Dynamic’ drive mode setting. Other changes include a quad exhaust system, ‘Xenon Blue’ brake callipers, and plenty of bespoke badging.

Read more: Land Rover Defender 110 SE D240 review

Admittedly it’s interesting timing for Land Rover to be unveiling such a beast. Earlier this month Jaguar Land Rover announced big changes to its internal combustion future; confirming Jaguar would cease to sell ICE vehicles beyond 2025 and Land Rover would cease to sell diesels beyond 2026. A big stonking V8 doesn’t necessarily fit into the green aesthetic.

The Defender V8 will be offered as either a long-wheelbase five door ‘110’ or as a short-wheelbase three door ‘90’. Local spec, pricing, and availability for the model has yet to be confirmed.

On top of a shiny new V8, Land Rover has also revealed a new available spec for the Defender — at least overseas. It’s called the XS Edition, and effectively acts as a replacement for the First Edition. It gets body-coloured cladding, 20-inch diamond-turned wheels, grained leather upholstery, additional cabin lighting, and more.

“The introduction of our V8 powertrain adds a new dimension of driving engagement and off-road capability to Defender. Fast and fun to drive, it represents the pinnacle of the Defender family and is as rewarding on the road as it is capable off it,” said David Hemming, Chief Product Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover.

“We’ve also broadened the appeal of the entire Defender line-up with new derivatives, option packs and enhanced connectivity, so there really is a Defender for everyone.”

“The 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine further enhances the unique character of the Defender,” added Iain Gray, Senior Manager, Powertrain Advanced Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover. “It sounds fantastic and delivers incredible performance – providing new levels of driver appeal.

“Our engineering focus has been to optimise powertrain calibration for Defender to deliver both responsive on-road performance and fine control off-road – all without compromising Defender’s unstoppable all-terrain capability and wading ability.”

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