Volts and a V8: a tale of two Defenders

Volts and a V8: a tale of two Defenders

2021-07-29 01:16:00 PM

Volts and a V8: a tale of two Defenders

Land Rover has launched new V8 and plug-in hybrid versions of its reborn SUV

Mark SmythThe Defender V8 will launch to 100km/h in just 5.4 seconds and has a drift mode. Picture: SUPPLIEDNew Jaguar Land Rover boss Thierry Bolloré has announced that Jaguar will be electric-only from 2025 and there will be an electric version of every Land Rover by 2030, as well as zero tailpipe emissions from its new models by 2036. So what better way to show its commitment to that promise than by launching the new Defender V8.

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Hang on, back up a bit, because it has also launched a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) version because we need balance in the world. There is no fully electric Defender just yet, and, to give you an idea why, just consider that the Defender 110 S P400e PHEV weighs 2,525kg and has only a small battery. Fill it with any more batteries and you’ll be over the permissible weight limit before you even turn the key.

We know you want to hear about the V8, but bear with us a second because the PHEV is the second most powerful model in the Defender line-up. It can sprint to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds, reach a top end of 191km/h, emit just 74g/km of carbon dioxide and in theory it can travel up to 43km in electric-only mode, even off-road with low range and diff locks engaged. Cue booming voice-over guy declaring “It’s a clean green all-conquering machine.” headtopics.com

We drove it from Land Rover’s head office to the picturesque Eastnor Castle inHerefordshire, England,where the brand has been testing its vehicles since the middle of the last century. The electric motor essentially acts as a torque filler, which meant great throttle response. It also assists in keeping fuel consumption relatively low, but switch to Save mode to conserve the battery and that consumption figure quickly rises. Overall though, the PHEV is quite a good package, almost good enough to wonder why you would want the V8 at all.

But then you realise the Defender V8 uses the same full-fat V8 that Ford used to supply and which is now built at the Land Rover Ingenium engine plant. It’s also used in the Range Rover Sport SVR and Jaguar F-Pace SVR and produces 386kW and 625Nm. It’ll launch to 100km/h in just 5.4 seconds and it has a drift mode — yes, seriously, a drift mode in a Defender.

We took it on a makeshift rally stage complete with hay bales, bumps and tight turns and while honestly we have no idea whether the predictor software worked or not, we did drift the Defender and had a blast putting the second-generation e-diff to the test as well as the pitch balancing and bigger anti-roll bars.

Inside there’s some satin-black trim components and an Alcantara-clad steering wheel. Picture: SUPPLIEDDespite its performance, the V8 is actually discreet, especially compared to a bright blue Range Rover Sport or hip-hop Mercedes-AMG G63. The Defender gets a small badge and a pair of twin exhaust tips at the rear, as well as blue Brembo brake calipers up front. headtopics.com

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Inside there’s satin-black trim components and an Alcantara-covered steering wheel, but otherwise it’s all standard Defender, which means the feel of premium meets rugged.Our rallycross antics were in the short wheelbase 90, but there’s a longer wheelbase five-door 110 as well that not only offers more space but sits a little better on the road.

Both the V8 and PHEV tackled mild off-road stuff with ease, including mud tracks and wading. Read more: Business Day »

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