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SPY PICS: Land Rover Defender V8 hits the 'Ring

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The Nurburgring isn’t a typical place to test a rugged 4×4 off-road SUV, but the forthcoming Land Rover Defender V8 is proving to be an exception.

Fresh spy photos have revealed a V8-powered Defender test mule doing laps of the famed German public road circuit this week, as engineers complete extensive chassis tuning to handle big increases in power and performance.

Like the spy photos we captured of the as-yet-unconfirmed Defender V8 prototype testing on UK public roads back in May, this test mule is hard to differentiate from the standard Land Rover Defender 110.

But look closer and you’ll see it has quad exhaust outlets like those on the V8-powered Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography, and our spy shooters say it emitted the characteristic sound of a V8.

Registration data has previously revealed the test mule spotted near Jaguar Land Rover’s HQ in May employs a 4999cc engine – expected to be the same Jaguar ‘AJ’ 5.0-litre supercharged V8 as the Range Rover Sport SVR and the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography.

With a cloud hanging over the future of that V8 (production of the 5.0-litre is supposed to stop in September), there are now two schools of thought.

One theory is JLR is stockpiling the British-made supercharged V8s for a low-volume run of Defender V8s. The other (more likely) outcome is this Defender V8 prototype is running a temporary engine for chassis calibration, until a supply of BMW-sourced twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8s arrive as part of the new powertrain deal between JLR and BMW.

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

Combined with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the top-shelf Defender V8 should hit 100km/h in around 4.5 seconds and top out at 220km/h – matching the Mercedes-AMG G 63 on both fronts.

The new Land Rover Defender’s aluminium-intensive body structure is said to be the stiffest Land Rover has produced, providing a strong base for engineers.

To help tie the Defender V8 down, standard air suspension is expected alongside the choice of drive modes to pre-arm it for flat-out driving on the autobahn or tackling mud, snow and rocky terrain off-road.

Following the launch of the long-wheelbase five-door Defender 110 ‘SVR’, it is being speculated that Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations will develop a short-wheelbase two-door V8-powered Defender 90 for those who want the ultimate high-performance go-anywhere off-roader.

First Australian deliveries of the new Land Rover Defender 110 will take place in late August, followed by the Defender 90 later than expected in early 2021.

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Source: www.motoring.com.au