It is happening: Prototype Land Rover Defender spied with V8

JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division has not had any hand in the project.

Eight-cylinder power will return to the Land Rover Defender for the first time in over two decades based on a new report from the United Kingdom.

With the exception of the limited run Defender V8 Works, a bent-eight has not been offered since the 3.9-litre version of the iconic Rover V8, but according to Autocar, the sighting of an ordinary looking Defender 110 near the marque’s Gaydon development facility has all but confirmed the return of the V8.

Sporting quad exhaust outlets, the publication’s checking of the vehicle’s registration has revealed an engine displacement of 4 999 cc, identifying it as the long serving 5.0-litre supercharged V8 used in the Range Rover Sport SVR and the Velar SV Autobiography Dynamic Edition.

Give that the engine, which hails from Jaguar-Land Rover’s (JLR) tenure under Ford ownership, will soon be discontinued when the Bridgend Engine plant in Wales closes at the end of this year however, its use has been viewed as nothing more than a development exercise as future V8 engines will be the familiar 4.4-litre twin-turbo sourced from BMW.

In a reversal of reports that emerged last year about the V8 Defender possibly wearing the SVR designation, the publication, citing unnamed sources, has indicated that JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) divisions has not had any hand in the project, thus rendering the SVR moniker redundant.

The V8 will however have a production cap and in-line with the report, produce around 368 kW that will be send to all four wheels via the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox.

As mentioned last year by Auto Express, the ‘hot’ Defender will take aim at the Mercedes-AMG G63 and feature not only exterior and interior upgrades, but also an updated chassis, retuned air suspension and allegedly, a Track mode integrated into the Terrain Response 2 system.

While it remains to be seen whether the V8 will come in short wheelbase 90 or long wheelbase 110 bodystyle when it becomes a reality next year, it is expected to carry a price tag of £100 000 (R2 284 463), significantly less than the admittedly more powerful G63.

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