Looks like a special V8-powered Land Rover Defender is in development.
The new 2020 Land Rover Defender is finally here to replace its iconic predecessor, and it's more advanced and capable than ever before. Two engine options are available for the 2020 Land Rover Defender: a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 with 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft, and a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 mild-hybrid setup producing 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.
However, according to Autocar a more potent V8-powered Defender will join the lineup. Spy shots posted by the publication show Land Rover testing a new Defender prototype with a quad exhaust system that's typically used on Land Rover's V8-powered models.
Registration data for the prototype confirms it's powered by the same 5.0-liter supercharged V8 found in the Range Rover Sport SVR, and Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography. Even so, the production of this special engine will actually end by the end of this year. So, what will power this mystery Land Rover Defender if not this particular V8? There is one popular theory.
As part of a recent deal with BMW, Jaguar Land Rover's high-performance models will utilize the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that powers larger BMW M cars like the X5 M and M8. We already know this unit is capable of producing over 600 horsepower in the M8 Competition. However, Autocar claims the new V8 Defender won't enter series production and will allegedly be a special-edition model built in limited numbers. Potentially, it could still use the Ford-derived V8, as Land Rover could have been stockpiling them before switching to BMW's 4.4-liter V8, which could be used in the rumored Defender SVR instead.
Surprisingly, Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations division apparently isn't involved with the Defender V8 project. Instead, the project is an "offshoot of the existing Defender engineering operation". As a result, don't expect the power output to match the 567-hp Range Rover Sport SVR, but tuned to produce around 500 hp. The V8 unit is also likely to be paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox by ZF. This setup would make the V8 Defender a potential threat to the Mercedes-AMG G63. With 577 hp on tap, the AMG G63 has more power, but it's a lot heavier than the Defender.
Along with the quad-exhaust system, the V8 Defender will be distinguished by larger wheels, a lower ride height, and a more aggressive exterior. Considering that the range-topping 2020 Land Rover Defender already starts at $80,000, there's a good chance the V8 Defender will cost over $100,000 when it arrives in late 2021.