Land Rover launches range-topping Defender V8

Words: Elliott Hughes | Photography: Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has launched the Defender V8 in both 90 and 110 body styles. The Defender V8 gets the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine present in many other models currently in the range. In the Defender’s case, it produces 518bhp and 461lb ft of torque, making it the most powerful production Defender ever built.

The power is sent through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle controls, propelling the car from 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds, and to a top speed of 149mph. The V8 engine will also be available in a new special edition Carpathian trim, which represents the pinnacle of the range.

JLR says that the Defender V8 “recalls the rich history of eight-cylinder Land Rovers dating back to the 1970s”. To deal with the huge increase in power over previous cars, V8 models get bespoke suspension and transmission settings that Land Rover honed on the Nordschleife circuit in Germany.

The results of this circuit-based testing is chunkier anti-roll bars, stiffer suspension bushes and revised damping settings. The V8 even gets a model-specific electronic differential, which introduces torque vectoring and yaw control to the Defender recipe.

While the Defender V8 is the most dynamically engaging example of the car so far, it has lost none of the off-road credentials that typify the nameplate. The ‘Terrain Response System’ remains (albeit with a new ‘Dynamic mode’), which Land Rover promises will deliver “exceptional off-road capability”.

The special edition Carpathian model has the same mechanical specifications as the Defender V8, but gets ‘Carpathian Grey’ paint, along with blue calipers, a black roof and bonnet and an interior trimmed in leather and suede.

“The 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine further enhances the unique character of the Defender. It sounds fantastic and delivers incredible performance – providing new levels of driver appeal. Our engineering focus has been to optimise powertrain calibration for Defender to deliver both responsive on-road performance and fine control off-road,” says Iain Grey, Land Rover’s senior manager of powertrain advanced engineering.

The release of the flagship Defender V8 and Carpathian models coincides with the launch of the XS Edition, which is set to replace the outgoing First Edition variant. The XS Edition will get Land Rover’s new electrified powertrains and features updated headlights, interior and body-coloured lower cladding and wheelarches. The XS will be available as either a 90 or 110 chassis.

Prices for the new Defender V8 start at £98,505 ($139,094, €114,497) for the 90 and £101,150 ($142,839, €117,560). More information is available at Land Rover’s website.

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