The rumors were right!
Despite the pandemic, demand for the new Land Rover Defender is still very high, but it will face some tough competition next year when the Ford Bronco starts arriving in dealerships. Currently, the new Defender is offered in two flavors: a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four producing 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft and a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six mild-hybrid with 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.
However, Land Rover is planning to launch a new V8-powered variant that will be significantly more powerful than the Bronco. Back in the summer, Land Rover was caught testing a V8-powered Defender 110. Now, we have proof the shorter-wheelbase Defender 90 is also getting the V8 treatment to battle the Bronco.
Compared to the regular Defender 90, the prototype is fitted with a pair of squared exhaust tips on each side with a big muffler between them, matching the design cues of the longer V8-powered 110 prototype. This is a clear indication the prototype has a V8 powerplant under the hood since only Jaguar models with V8 engines have quad exhaust systems.
Allegedly, there will be two V8 Defender 90s available, including a range-topping version of the regular short-wheelbase model and a more powerful Defender 90 SVR. As for which engine will power the new Defender V8, the Land Rover will likely use the same 5.0-liter supercharged V8 found in the Range Rover Sport SVR,
This unit is expected to generate 557 hp in the standard Defender 90 V8 and 575 hp in the SVR variant, meaning the regular Defender 90 V8 will have around 250 more hp than the Bronco.
However, Jaguar Land Rover's 5.0-liter engine will be discontinued soon, so the new Defender V8 could utilize a more frugal BMW-sourced 4.4-liter V8 as part of an agreement between the two automakers. This will be the same unit that produces 617 hp in the M8 Competition. Judging from the prototype's state of development, the new V8-powered Defender could break cover next year.