Italian Coachbuilder Creates The Ultimate Land Rover Defender

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Can't wait for the next-generation Land Rover Defender? Ares Design has reimagined the iconic off-roader.

The Land Rover Defender has been out of production for a few years now. A next-generation model is on the horizon, but if you can't wait for the all-new version arrive Ares Design, the Italian coachbuilder behind the Project Panther inspired by the 1970s iconic De Tomaso Pantera supercar and the G-Class-based X-Raid, has revealed a new take on the iconic off-roader – and it's probably going to be a bit controversial.

Dubbed "the ultimate Defender", Ares says that "every aspect" of the Defender has been reworked, from the engine to the interior, and the SUV also gets a full body kit. "The Defender is a motoring icon," said Ares CEO Dany Bahar, who previously worked as the boss of Lotus. "Icons can be reimagined, though, and our Defender is the ultimate incarnation of the bespoke 4x4, delivering incredible performance, captivating looks and opulent touches more akin to a luxury SUV."

Under the hood is a Land Rover V8 bored out from 4.5 to 4.7-liters that produces 278 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque. The V8 unit also features new camshafts, revised cylinder heads, larger injectors and a bespoke exhaust manifold. A new exhaust system comes complete with a bypass valve for a "suitably tuneful V8 soundtrack" through the quad tailpipes. If you want more power, Ares is also offering a supercharged version that produces 478 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Both models feature a six-speed tiptronic automatic transmission.

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Ride height has been increased by 2.95 inches on the naturally aspirated version and by 1.96 inches on the supercharged Defender thanks to bespoke progressive rate springs, while the wheel arch extensions, hood, headlight surround and grille are finished in carbon fiber. Ares didn't want to sacrifice the Defender's rugged off-road capability, so it also added heavy duty front and rear bumpers, underside protection, reinforced front and rear tow points, side steps and steel roof bars. Full LED lights provide added illumination.

Inside, the interior is completely unrecognizable from the standard Defender. Ares has made the cabin noticeably more lavish, thanks to extensive use of aluminium, carbon fiber, hand-crafted wood and high-quality Italian leather. If you want an Ares Defender, only 53 are going to be produced, each costing £190,000 ($251,800) excluding the cost of the donor car. Each model also takes eight weeks to build.

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