Is Land Rover's V8 Defender Beaten To The Punch By Its Electrified Upstart?
CAR|October 2021
Land Rover is finally giving us a proper V8 Defender but is it beaten to the punch by its electrified upstart?
Mark Smythmotorscribe

Price: R2 317 000 Engine: V8, supercharged, petrol Transmission: 8-speed automatic Power: 386 kW @ 6 000 r/min Torque: 625 N.m @ 2 500-5 500 r/min0-100 km/h: 4,90 seconds* Top speed: 250 km/h* Fuel consumption: 14,70 L/100 km CO ² : 332 g/km Rivals: Audi SQ7, BMW X5M, Mercedes-AMG G63

+performance; comfort; off-road ability

thirsty; expensive; fiddly Dynamic mode selector

Over 20 years ago, I was in a Land Rover dealership in Cape Town’s CBD getting my Discovery serviced when I noticed a slightly different Defender waiting to go up a ramp. Further investigation revealed it to be a left-hand-drive model belonging to a Swiss owner.

Aside from a bespoke interior, the thing that grabbed my attention was a discreet V8 badge. You couldn’t buy a Defender V8, that’s why I had to go for the Discovery … well, that, and because my partner at the time didn’t like the Defender. We’re not together anymore for obvious reasons.

Technically, Land Rover made a Series III V8 in the 1970s and there was a Defender V8 available in North America in the ‘90s but we never saw either of these. The closest you can get to one is buying a brand-new Classic Works Defender V8 but you’ll pay a small fortune for it.

That was the old Defender though and now, in this era of eco-consciousness and electrification, Land Rover has decided to give us, yup … a new Defender V8. And the crowd goes wild. Cue terms and conditions voiceover person, “We should point out that Land Rover is also introducing a Defender plug-in hybrid and you might want to read on for that.”

You have to wonder what took Land Rover so long and why it is doing it now. The V8 is a halo model, the top of the range, the big daddy. It’s what the SVR version is to the Range Rover Sport, except it’s not made by Special Vehicle Operations. Now you want to know if there will be an SVR version of the Defender? So did we, which is why we asked Adam Southgate, vehicle dynamics senior manager, that very question. “Who knows” was his response. Well, obviously, he does but he’s not telling.

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