Media Land Rover

V-8-powered Land Rover Defender in the works

Land Rover has a new Defender on its hands for 2020. It's the first truly new Defender in over three decades, and represents a huge leap in quality, refinement and technology over its predecessor.

What it doesn't represent just yet is a huge leap in performance over the previous generation, but that will come soon enough. Autocar reported on Tuesday that Land Rover is out testing a V-8-powered Defender prototype.

So far, the Defender has only been announced with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 rated at 296 horsepower and a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 mild-hybrid setup rated at 395 hp. The addition of a V-8 option should see the Defender's output rise to over 500 hp.

The engine Land Rover is currently testing is Jaguar Land Rover's 5.0-liter supercharged V-8. However, production of the Ford-sourced engine is scheduled to end later this year, at which point Jaguar Land Rover is expected to switch to a BMW-sourced 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. The latest version of the 4.4-liter V-8 delivers outputs starting from 523 hp and topping out at over 600 horses.

2020 Land Rover Defender

It's possible Land Rover is only developing the chassis of the V-8-powered Defender at this point and will swap in the 4.4-liter V-8 as development advances.

An alternative could be that Land Rover has stockpiled enough units of the older 5.0-liter V-8 to last until it's ready to make the switch to the 4.4-liter mill. This ties in with a report from 2019 that Land Rover will use the 4.4-liter V-8 in a high-performance Defender developed by Jaguar Land Rover's SVO skunkworks and aimed at the Mercedes-AMG G63.

According to Autocar, the regular V-8-powered Defender won't arrive until late 2021. The SVO version will likely bow even later.

If you don't need a V-8 in your life, the first examples of the new Defender are due to reach dealers this spring, though some delays are possible due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. The starting price is $50,925, including destination.