When I wrote about the first ride with the new Land Rover Defender PHEV last week, I also mentioned the top V8 model several times. It was the eight-cylinder that was the main attraction behind which Land Rover attracted us to the surroundings of Barcelona, Spain, and especially the Les Comes complex, where the British carmaker has its Experience Center with tens of kilometers of roads, dirt roads and off-road tracks.
But let’s start by recalling what the Land Rover Defender V8 has to offer. Under the hood of the top engine, available in short (90) and long (110) versions and in the price list marked P525, there is a compressor-supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine, which offers 386 kW (525 hp) in the range of 6000 to 6500 rpm and 625 Nm of torque in the range of 2500 to 5500 rpm. As usual, the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission takes care of the transmission of power to the wheels, but with specific settings.
In the short version 90, the five-liter should be able to move the car from 0 to 100 km / h in 5.2 seconds and the maximum speed reaches up to 240 km / h, in the longer version 110 the acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h takes 0.2 seconds longer, but the maximum allowed speed is the same. Defender V8 is thus the fastest serial defect in history. And supposedly also the funniest.
With the installation of the V8 engine, the chassis was also modified, which should ensure more agile driving characteristics and reduce body roll. The Defender V8 therefore received new springs, different shock absorber characteristics, stronger and stiffer stabilizers or an electronically controlled rear differential.
The perfect interplay of all components is ensured by special software – the Terrain Response 2 system in the V8 model is the only one to offer the Dynamic driving mode with specific calibration. It provides a sharper response to the accelerator pedal, special settings for adaptive shock absorbers and, last but not least, it adjusts the traction control system, which in conjunction with the new Yaw Controller system enables even faster, more fun and maneuverable driving – especially in corners and unpaved surfaces.
The Yaw Controller system in combination with the active rear differential adjusts the slippage of the individual wheels depending on the ride, the amount of power sent to the rear wheels and allows easy cornering in a controlled skid while constantly raking the wheels on both axles – ie without restrictions. In Dynamic mode, the door is simply wide open for fun.
The fact that you have the honor with the V8 model will be reliably revealed by several design elements that you will not find with other models. In addition to the V8 badges, there are, for example, enlarged brakes, with a diameter of 380 mm at the front and 365 mm at the rear, which received brakes with a distinctive blue coating in Xenon Blue. At the same time, the brakes clearly shine from behind 22-inch wheels with a unique design.
In addition, the Defender V8 has a contrast-painted roof, specifically painted selected body panels and at the rear you can’t miss the special exhaust system with a pair of tailpipes on both sides of the bumper, which produce an absolutely famous sound right at start-up. And what about a sharper acceleration.
In the interior, the V8 models impress with their specific seat upholstery, the special surface treatment of the cross member in the dashboard, the backlit door sills with the V8 symbol or the four-spoke steering wheel upholstered in Alcantara, which is only equipped with matt chrome manual shift paddles on V8 models.
Oh, that sound
But from theory to practice that is even better than many can imagine. All you have to do is sit down, press the engine start button and enjoy the sound that sounds after a while. In short, turning and bubbling an eight-cylinder, in this case five-liter and supercharged by a compressor, is always an exceptional event. Especially in recent years, when V8 engines have become an endangered species.
With the door closed, however, you don’t even know about the eight-cylinder under the hood. And this applies both when idling and when driving in normal mode and at a calmer pace. The eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly and always tries to keep lower speeds – but the engine does not turn unnecessarily. So the eight can be an exemplary cultivated companion, with whom you do not have to worry about even longer journeys. But when you tighten, he will show you the other face.
From about 3,500 rpm, the sound of the exhaust begins to thicken, especially in Dynamic mode, yet it still does not look as brutal as in the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, which is helped by a better tone from the same engine special mode. But the combination of the slightly industrial design of the new defik in combination with the sound of the V8 still sounds great. Both behind the wheel and for passers-by.
In addition, the eight-cylinder comes to life from around 4,000 rpm – after all, it offers the highest performance in the range of 6,000 to 6,500 rpm. In addition, the automatic transmission, especially in sport mode, keeps the engine running at all times, allowing you to mine any horse from the engine. However, it can often be the case that the engine keeps running at too high a speed – here it is useful to manually shift the paddles under the steering wheel, to which the transmission responds very quickly.
The acceleration in a straight line is really impressive – after all, it is a car with an unladen weight of 2,546 kg (90) and 2,678 kg (110), respectively. And the brakes, which have no problem with the car, also work solidly. However, with the size of the defect and the standard material of the brakes, it is likely that they will begin to fail a little with long-term stress.
However, the properties of the car in corners are also solid, where different settings of the shock absorbers and stronger stabilizers are manifested. Unfortunately, all the test cars were driven on the right, which on continental roads, especially on narrow mountain roads with tight turns, does not give the driver much peace of mind and security. However, the whistling of the fitted tires was able to draw attention to the approaching limit before any insidiousness could manifest itself. So the car seemed safe and maneuverable all the time.
Rally style fun
The biggest fun, however, came when Land Rover instructors took us on a small circuit. Riding on a dusty dirt road with a few turns, bullying and a small jump, offered fantastic rally-style entertainment. It was here that you also had the opportunity to enjoy a ride with a slightly sloping stern and try out how easily the defect is controlled during a really brisk ride off a paved road. And to tell you the truth – I could easily spend long hours having fun.
A short Defender 90 was prepared for driving on the circuit, which seemed agile when cornering and willingly changed direction. During the small jumps, you could feel the whole car lighten and land surprisingly comfortably. At first glance, few people would probably expect similar behavior from the classic offroad, but Defender changed one face after another.
The circuit driving was followed by an off-road liner, during which the car overcame similarly demanding terrain, with which the plug-in hybrid had to cope. However, even the eight-cylinder was not intimidated by any challenges. With the reduction gear engaged, the short V8 defect climbed reliably on slopes I wouldn’t want to walk, carefully descending steep slopes without a brake, and even in the worst of terrain, the steering wheel on my right bothered me the most, which I was never one hundred percent off sure car position on the road. However, Defender was able to facilitate even this inconvenience with a camera system covering the entire surroundings of the car.
Buy before they ban it
I’m not going to lie, I was really impressed by the Defender V8. It is a car with several faces that can impress on the road, fun in light terrain and skills in difficult terrain. Sure, it will never be a purebred sports car or the ultimate unstoppable off-road, but he does everything with maximum commitment and as well as his technology and rich technological equipment allow. In addition, it adds emotions that can only be evoked by burning liquefied horsetails and dinosaurs in eight V-cylinders, which are also blown by a compressor.
Sure, the base price of CZK 3,307,720 in version 90 and 3,404,526 in version 110 is quite high, but how many similar cars with such an engine can we expect in the near future? The Defender has always been an exceptional machine, especially with the V8 engine, which has been appearing under its hood since the 1970s. But the new Defender V8 can reliably fulfill the role of a car for fun, family, travel, expedition and hard work. And the feeling of his pull and performance – it just can’t get bored.
After all, the carmaker’s representatives also told us that demand far exceeded expectations. This is despite the different tax burdens that the non-ecological V8 has to face in the world.