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SPY PICS: Flagship Land Rover Defender V8 spotted





Land Rover is secretly working on a V8-powered Defender flagship to challenge the Mercedes-AMG G63 and, to prove it, it’s been caught testing on roads near its UK R&D hub.

Glance at the images supplied by our spy photographers and it’s hard to tell the vehicle snapped isn’t anything other than a regular four-cylinder Defender, but look closer and you’ll see it has a quad exhaust system that’s shared with the Velar SVAutobiography.

Aside from the rear pipes, there’s no more exterior changes but registration data for a vehicle photographed suggests it’s powered by a 4999cc petrol engine.

This suggests the mule pictured shares the same Jaguar ‘AJ’ 5.0-litre supercharged V8 as the Range Rover Sport SVR and the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography.

Confusingly, it was originally thought the AJ V8 was set to go out of production following Ford’s decision to cease production of the 5.0-litre at its Welsh factory this September 2020.

One theory is JLR is stockpiling the Brit-made supercharged V8s for a low-volume run of Defender V8s but more likely is the Defender V8 prototype spotted might be running a temporary engine for chassis calibration, until a supply of test BMW-sourced twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 arrive, following a powertrain deal to supply the engine to JLR was reportedly finalised last year.

Whatever the case, the fastest-ever Defender will pack at least 375kW and around 800Nm of torque.

Combined with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the fastest-ever Defender V8 should hit 100km/h in around 4.5 seconds and top out at 220km/h – matching both claims for the Mercedes-AMG G63.

To help tie the Defender down, standard air suspension is expected with differing driver modes to pre-arm it for flat-out driving on the autobahn or tackling mud, snow and rocky terrain off-road.

When it reaches production, expect the Defender V8 to wear either SVR or SVX badges and for the hot Defender V8 to sit on larger wheels, sport a body kit and for it have a lower ride height.

Expected to arrive in late 2021, pricing for the Land Rover Defender V8 is likely to exceed £100,000 ($A186,000).

It’s thought following its launch, Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations will develop a short-wheelbase version for those who want the ultimate go-anywhere off-roader.