From front to back…
The man who spearheaded the development program for the new Land Rover Defender, Stuart Frith, recently said: TopGear know that a Land Rover Defender V8 wasn’t actually planned when they started work on the car eight years ago. Nevertheless, the team tinkered together a few prototypes, after which it turned out to be too good an opportunity not to seize. Let’s say carefully that we are very happy that it turned out this way.
Officially you should call this Land Rover Defender V8 the P525, but for everyone (including Land Rover itself) it is of course just ‘the V8’. You’ll recognize the engine: it’s JLR’s trusty 5.0-litre supercharged engine that you’ve been able to find in… er, just about all of the company’s larger models. In this version, it delivers a healthy 525 hp and 625 Nm. That bump of power is naturally sent to all four wheels, helping this long-wheelbase 110 go from 0 to 100 in 5.4 seconds. (Yes, he is also available as a short 90. And to be honest: it can’t get much tougher than that…)
Just a motor is not enough
Land Rover has reinforced the Defender’s undercarriage in several areas to handle the extra power – and weight – of the V8. That means thicker anti-roll bars, stiffer suspension bushings and a degree of suspension and damping that is unique to this version.
On the rear axle we find a new electronically controlled active differential, and Land Rover’s well-known Terrain Response system has been given a new Dynamic mode. This provides a sharper throttle, heavier steering and more lively characteristics for the variable dampers. Good thing. Please note: this Land Rover Defender V8 does not belong to JLR’s exclusive group of SVO products, so despite the extra tuning, you were never meant to bounce out of your seat in a sporty way. There is therefore more than enough hell, dive and roll behavior to detect when you accelerate or brake hard – call it character.
The Land Rover Defender V8 is doing reasonably well in the corners
No, the latest version of the Land Rover Defender is by no means elegant in its handling; but it steers well, tolerates smooth cornering and, if desired, pops out like a blunderbuss. He sticks his nose in the air as if he wants to take off, which in a strange way makes it both impressive and touching.
The smooth eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is the same that all other Defenders are equipped with, although you get a set of paddles on the steering wheel so that you can easily change up and down manually. Of course, you still have the vast battery of off-road settings and tricks that make the Defender the capable, all-blasting mud beast that it is.
The Land Rover Defender V8 drives well
If you can manage to shake off the feeling that all other road users – especially those in the smallest hatchbacks – see you as a slightly sad figure in everyday use, this is a fantastic car to drive. And if you really don’t care because they think of you, you can now also order the Land Rover Defender V8 in a Bond Edition limited to 300 pieces in honor of the release of the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die. Includes courtesy lighting with 007 logos and a badge on the tailgate. John, do you care.
Specifications Land Rover Defender 110 V8 (2021)
525 hp @ 6,000 rpm
625 Nm @ 2,500 rpm
0-100 km/h in 5.4 s
top 191 km/h
15.1 l/100 km
340 g/km CO2 (G label)
5,018 x 1,996 x 1,967mm (LxWxH)
90 l (petrol)
972 / 2,277 l (luggage)
€ 213,067 (NL)