Land Rover is working on a range-topping V8 version of the new Defender, spy shots of a prototype exclusive to Autocar reveal.
Rumours of the rugged 4x4 benefiting from a return to the eight-cylinder format that’s traditionally sought after by enthusiasts in the original have been circulating for some time.
Engineers have previously indicated to Autocar that a V8 would fit under the bonnet but stopped short of confirming anything beyond that.
Now, however, images show an undisguised Defender driving on the roads outside Land Rover’s research and development facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire, sporting the ‘Prototype Vehicle’ stickers reserved for testing mules.
While no changes are visible at the front, a rear view reveals a quad exhaust system – used by Jaguar Land Rover only in V8-powered variants.
Sources close to the firm have confirmed the project’s existence, but the official JLR response is: “We are unable to comment on the specific nature of these [technology development] programmes.”
Autocar has obtained registration data for the car pictured that shows it has a 4999cc petrol engine, suggesting it’s powered by the ‘AJ’ 5.0-litre supercharged V8 used in the Range Rover Sport SVR and Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography.
However, production of the long-serving AJ will come to an end before this year is out, as the Bridgend Ford factory in which it’s made is closed down.