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Driving Land Rover’s NEW Defender 130 V8 Eight-seater


Impervious is the word that comes to mind often while traversing England’s awfully wet countryside in Land Rover’s new Defender 130 V8 eight-seater. It’s an intoxicating blend of desirable design, technical proficiency and JLR’s extraordinary up-market migration that makes you feel that paying £117,000 for a Defender is somehow justified. In true Boston style, though, it’s more than a feeling. The Defender backs up its ego-caressing brand perception with go-anywhere, do-anything substance.

It’s the ability to cruise through badly flooded roads past all manner of stranded hatchbacks, the premium ride comfort afforded by the actively dynamic air suspension, and the ultimate luxury of space, all while knowing that just ahead of you are 500 coked-up shire horses ready to pick this 2.7-tonne chariot up and hurl it down the road at the slightest hint of a full-right ankle flex.

Granted, there’s a whole sub-station of electric vehicles out there that can at the very least match the back-thudding urgency of forward thrust provided by the supercharged 5.0-litre V8, but can they cross a 900mm-deep ford, conquer a sickly steep and deeply rutted hillside mud-fest, while entertaining up to eight travellers in equally steep levels of rugged luxury and trick tech? Probably not. Breadth of capability has always been Land Rover’s calling card, and it’s been ratcheted up even higher in the new Defender. 

Breadth of capability has always been Land Rover’s calling card, and it’s been ratcheted up even higher in the new Defender

Breadth of capability has always been Land Rover’s calling card, and it’s been ratcheted up even higher in the new Defender

Leaving the fabulous Farmyard at The Newt near Wincanton, and pushing on towards the lunch stop at the 15th-century Combe Sydenham manor house just inside Exmoor National Park, affords an opportunity to get acquainted with the fundamentals. These include that cushioned ride, fluent steering, minimal body roll at sensible speeds, more driver-assistance systems than you need (there’s a bing when the speed limit changes and a bong if you ever so slightly exceed it), more cameras than a Marvel movie premiere (3D Surround Camera, ClearSight interior rear view mirror and Ground View are seriously useful vision aids), smarter-than-you eight-speed automatic gearbox and that aforementioned motive grunt.

Driving on wet and slippery roads on massive all-season rubber imparts high levels of adhesion confidence, but even at quite slow speeds the tyres scoop huge torrents of water onto the windscreen, enough to momentarily blind the driver. It’s disconcerting, but probably the small price you pay for the rubber’s extraordinary, traction-aiding ability to shift water.

It’s comforting to know that should you ever need to ‘go beyond’, the Defender’s box of traction tricks – including low-range, electronic active differential, Terrain Response 2, Hill Descent Control and 290mm of ground clearance in off-road mode – is highly effective and remarkably easy to operate. And 450lb ft of torque, on offer from 2500-5000rpm, means you’ll hardly feel it when towing a crazy barn-find classic back to the manor house.

Adding a V8 model to the 130 line-up feels like a shrewd move. Sure, it doesn’t ride on any longer a wheelbase than the 110, but it offers more comfort to more passengers, and at this level, size matters. When you’re able to live large in the world of luxury utility, you may as well drive large, too, especially now there is no power deficit.


It’s not a V8, but it does have a cool name and even more space for gear. Powered by the 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel mild hybrid, the Land Rover Defender 130 Outbound does not come with third-row seating, which makes it ideal for adventure junkies with loads of kit, or dogs who also wish to live large. Find out more here.

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