Land Rover Defender 110 V8

3.5t

Towing

$219,900

Price

329g

Co2 Emissions

386kW

Power

Pros

  • Old-school supercharged engine
  • Nicely finessed chassis
  • Fully loaded in so many ways

Cons

  • Definitely likes a drink
  • Far from nimble
  • Oversized for city driving

The very off-road-capable, very compliant-chassis Land Rover Defender might not seem like the obvious choice for a ballistic supercharged V8 engine. But it’s a laugh, innit?

Besides, there is a great tradition of Defender V8s to join. The Series III Stage 1 V8 from 1979 became an instant icon. Aside from run-of-the-mill (ha ha) V8 Defenders there was the 50th Anniversary Edition V8 in 1998 and even after the original Defender had departed, Land Rover cooked up 150 Works V8 models in 2018 to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

land rover defender v8 review: the works

At the time, that 70th special was the fastest Defender ever made. But no more; this new one can hit 100km/h in 5.2 seconds as a 90 three-door, or 5.4sec in 110 form tested here.

Okay, that’s not white knuckle territory. The Defender’s 386kW is 37kW down on the last supercharged V8 Landie we reviewed on Kiwi roads, the Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon.

But it’s arguably more about ambience and icon-status than sheer speed anyway. The pertinent thing is that the Defender is powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s old-school supercharged V8, which really is getting to the end of the line; newer models like the latest Range Rover/Sport have a new BMW-sourced twin-turbo V8.

Amid the multitude of Defender specification levels, the nomenclature of the new flagship model is nice and simple: it’s the “Defender V8”. Nice and simple and fully loaded, with everything from Matrix LED lights to a deployable power towbar to 22-inch wheels. You even get Land Rover’s Activity Key as standard – a nifty little waterproof bracelet that allows you to leave the real key inside the car while you lock up and go swimming or mountain biking.

land rover defender v8 review: the works

It’s possible that the V8 is a bit too subtle for its own good. The only way you’ll spot it from the outside is the quad exhaust pipes or an extremely small “V8” badge on the bottom of each front door.

Despite that, there’s a bit more to it than jamming a big engine under the bonnet and turning the options list up to 11. Land Rover’s characteristic attention to detail means the Defender V8’s chassis has been tweaked to cope with the extra weight and performance, with larger anti-roll bars, stiffer settings for the air suspension, and – most significantly/promisingly – an active rear differential and extra Dynamic mode for the Terrain Response system. The later also liberates a bit more snap, crackle and pop from the V8 engine under load.

It’s all dynamically cohesive and still brutally quick for a 2.5-tonne 4×4 package, but don’t assume we’re talking Jaguar F-Pace SVR or Range Rover Sport SVR levels of rort and racy handling. “SVR” being the key thing here, because even though it boasts a version of the same supercharged engine, the Defender definitely isn’t a product of JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations. Rather, it’s a more powerful, more luxurious and more exclusive flagship for the Defender lineup.

land rover defender v8 review: the works

So no, you won’t be taking it to a track day. The steering is consistent and the all-wheel drive reacts seamlessly to changing surface conditions, but the high centre of gravity and sheer weight of the thing means there’s loads of body roll when you take the V8 up on its generous offer of power/torque.

It can feel alarming, but there’s another great Land Rover tradition of 4x4s that feel loose but prove tenaciously grippy and stable, just as it feels like the door handles are about to hit the tarmac. So it proves with the Defender V8, which rolls, grips, gathers up its skirts and powers through tight corners. Like we said, it’s a laugh.

The Defender is still a highly functional hard-core 4×4 machine in all its forms. There will no doubt be those who buy the V8 simply because it’s the most expensive and/or most powerful model you can get. Fair enough; it’s a highly aspirational machine.

land rover defender v8 review: the works

And while we seriously doubt many will want to slam those glossy 22-inch rims against rocks or scrape the shiny paintwork through gorse bushes, it’s crucial to the Defender’s credibility that yes, this flagship V8 model can still climb mountains and wade through 900mm of water. It lacks none of the muddy-tech and Terrain Response modes of the more hardy-looking Defenders.

So why buy the Bremont military watch when you know a G-Shock would do just as well? Because there’s an overwhelming sense of pride in owning something over-engineered, and a certain enjoyment in excess. You could argue the Defender V8 doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it does tick a lot of luxury-4×4 boxes.

LAND ROVER DEFENDER 110 V8ENGINE: 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8POWER: 386kW/625NmGEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, AWD with low-range transfer0-100KM/H: 5.4 secondsCONSUMPTION: 12.7l/100km, CO2 329g/km (WLTP)
PRICE: $219,900

land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works
land rover defender v8 review: the works

MOTOR'S NEWS RELATED

Join Road & Track and Car and Driver on Our Annual Car of the Year Tests

Check out today's coolest new cars alongside editors at Performance Car of the Year, Lightning Lap, and 10Best Awards.

View more: Join Road & Track and Car and Driver on Our Annual Car of the Year Tests

Satisfying Subaru SUVs That People Love Driving and Owning

Satisfying Subaru SUVs that people love driving include the 2022 Crosstrek The 2022 Forester is another Satisfying Subaru SUV that people love Don’t overlook the 2022 Outback for a stress-free driving experience Subaru makes a reliable and safe sport utility vehicle, but that’s not all. These Satisfying Subaru SUVs ...

View more: Satisfying Subaru SUVs That People Love Driving and Owning

Holiday Rambler Eclipse RV Debuts With Theater Seats, Drop-Down Loft

It’s available with three different floor plans.

View more: Holiday Rambler Eclipse RV Debuts With Theater Seats, Drop-Down Loft

Genesis prices 2023 G80 electric car at $81,000, expands EVs to more states

Genesis on Thursday expanded the breadth and availability of its electric car lineup on its path to becoming a fully electric automaker by 2030. The luxury brand’s newest car, the 2023 Electrified Genesis G80, will cost $80,920 (including a $1,095 destination fee) when it goes on sale in September. The ...

View more: Genesis prices 2023 G80 electric car at $81,000, expands EVs to more states

This C5 Corvette Turned Off-Roader Could be Yours For Small Bucks

Photo: Caleb Hodshire/Facebook Fans of the Chevrolet Corvette and off-road vehicles now have a golden opportunity to combine their two passions for a small amount of money. A tuning enthusiast in Illinois, who specializes in Corvette conversions, is selling on Marketplace a fifth-generation (C5) 1999 Corvette built to venture ...

View more: This C5 Corvette Turned Off-Roader Could be Yours For Small Bucks

Audi heads to F1, 2025 Cadillac Celestiq, 2023 Electrified Genesis G80: Today's Car News

Audi confirmed it will enter F1 for the 2026 season. The automaker will team with a thus far unknown chassis partner to provide power units that will be built in Germany and run on synthetic fuel. Alfa Rome announced it will split with Sauber, and all points sign to Audi ...

View more: Audi heads to F1, 2025 Cadillac Celestiq, 2023 Electrified Genesis G80: Today's Car News

Genesis expands GV60, an electric SUV, availability to four more US states

Where is the Genesis GV60 available to buy Electrek’s Take Now might be your chance if you’ve been waiting to buy the Genesis GV60 EV SUV. The Korean luxury automaker announced Tuesday that its flagship electric SUV, the GV60, will be available in four more US states starting in ...

View more: Genesis expands GV60, an electric SUV, availability to four more US states

Our Long-Term 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Is off to an Unforgettable Start

With our 668-hp, six-speed-manual sports sedan, the highs are high, and the lows are low.

View more: Our Long-Term 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Is off to an Unforgettable Start

Dodge goes electric in style | Autoblog Podcast #744

Tested: Best Car Vacuums for 2022

China: Power to the people or to the carmakers?

Tesla premium connectivity through Starlink V2 confirmed

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning strapped to dyno despite challenges

1983 DeLorean DMC-12 with 5,397 miles for sale

Numbers of Koenigsegg CC850s increase to 70 due to high demand

Tech Deep Dive: What Makes the New Porsche GT3 RS the Most Extreme 911 Ever

4 Terrible 2022 Subcompact SUVs That Consumer Reports Predicts Owners Will Hate

Xiaomi in talks with BAIC to produce electric cars, says Bloomberg

Audi Has Decided to Enter Formula 1 in 2026 After Much Speculation

North Dakota Swing Ahead For WoO: What To Watch For

OTHER MOTO NEWS