Land Rover Defender V8 first heard at the NurburgringAugust 18, 2020
The new SUV joins prototype test sessions ahead of its expected debut in 2021.
An excellent version of the new V8-powered Land Rover Defender was captured on video during high-speed testing at the Nurburgring. This latest spy footage, while not the natural habitat for an SUV, provides a glimpse into what kind of powertrain Land Rover will use for the revived 4WD vehicle, which will likely debut next year.
From the sound, the test mules are using the JLR’s familiar 5.0-liter V8 “AJ” powerplant with supercharging, rather than BMW’s turbocharged transmission. However, production of the long-serving AJ will cease before the end of this year, as the Bridgend Ford plant where it was produced has been closed.
For future high-performance models, JLR will use the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 that BMW makes for its larger M-cars, as part of a collaboration between the two firms. The alliance began with the intention of developing electrified powertrains, but sources close to the German manufacturer said last year that it was expanded to include a number of internal combustion engines supplied to JLR.
While the use of a 4.4-liter V8 has not yet been officially confirmed by JLR, we understand that this is just a formality. It is likely that the 5.0-liter engine is used primarily to test the Defender’s dynamic performance while increasing weight and power.
The V8 Defender is conceived as a limited edition special edition, not as the basis for series production. Land Rover may well stockpile a Ford-built V8 for use in the Defender because emissions targets are far less important for small cars.
Interestingly, sources say the JLR Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) unit is not directly related to the Defender V8 project. On the contrary, it is an offshoot of Defender’s existing engineering service. Testing on the track shows that extensive re-tuning of the chassis is required in order for the Defender to handle the extra power.
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