The new Land Rover Defender is set to get a V8 lump upfront that could produce over 450kW.

DON’T MENTION the war! Pictures of a Land Rover Defender mule testing near the British brand’s headquarters in Gaydon, UK have been obtained by Autocar, and further investigation discovered the car was cradling a 5.0-litre V8 powerhouse upfront.

It seems the report and paperwork of a new Land Rover Defender testing with a V8 petrol motor are proof that a return of the V8 Defender is in the works to battle the mighty Mercedes-AMG G63.

The bronze-coloured model in the pictures (available to look at on Autocar) is a 110 five-door wagon, with black bulging bonnet, roof, and quad exhausts at the rear. The engine, according to Autocar and its engineering sources, is the same AJ-8 V8 petrol engine currently serving duty in Ranger Rover SVR and SVAutobiography models.

Despite sources close to the British publication confirming the vehicle, a spokesperson from Land Rover UK said that “We are unable to comment on the specific nature of these [technology development] programmes.” No surprise, really.

But don’t get too excited that the bent-eight Defender will arrive with a sizeable 5.0-litre block, as the AJ-series engine is due to cease production shortly. Sources further confirmed that the actual engine for the model will be the BMW 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 used in BMW’s M products and available to JLR under its new collaboration. This is therefore likely an early prototype to test dynamic ability and handling effects with the increased power and weight changes, meaning further testing of the final production mill is yet to take place. That will push timing for the new model out.

For perspective on the potential of the BMW engine, it produces 460kW and 750Nm through an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission in the M8 Competition (and you can read our full review on that new car next week on Practical Motoring). That’s even more than the Mercedes-AMG G63 with its 430kW, though the German Geländewagen has a mightier 850Nm.

In reality, the V8 for the Defender will likely hit the same power figure of the G63 at best. Still, it’ll be an off-road weapon (that will probably never leave High Street).

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About Author

Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax,, AMC, Just Cars, and more.


  1. Last sentence was so out of touch with reality, have you not seen all the photos and videos coming out of Namibia?
    Great article until the last sentance

    1. Agreed. People think Range Rovers and Land Rovers don’t get taken off-road. I never had any worries taking my top of the RRS off-road.

  2. This thing will cost well over 100 grand and no way you’ll see a petrol V8 like this going across the Simpson. Yes the diesels and lower priced version I’m sure but not the bigger petrols and pretty trim versions.

  3. Agree, who in his right mind will take a BMW v8 powered vehicle anywhere but for close to the service station.Dont even have a oil dipstick.

  4. The defender cannot battle the G-wagen in any way. It’s too soft and too ugly. It’s like getting a female wrestler to fight with a male wrestler.

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