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.
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.