Currently reading: New 2022 Land Rover Defender 130 tests with range-topping V8
Largest version of Land Rover's reborn 4x4 spotted with tell-tale quad exhausts ahead of reveal

As Land Rover gears up to reveal the largest and most luxurious version of its reborn Defender 4x4, our spy photographers have snapped a test mule sporting an aggressive quad-exit exhaust, which all but confirms the range-topper will get a V8-powered range-topper.

The new Land Rover Defender 130 has been spotted testing several times in the run-up to its reveal – expected to be in the coming months – and patent images have already given a good look at its final design, but this is the first time we've seen strong signs of a V8 model.

Like the existing Land Rover Defender V8 – launched last year in 90 and 110 forms – it will likely get a chassis overhaul from JLR's Special Vehicles division to go with its extra power, but it remains to be seen whether it will use the same 'AJ' 5.0-litre supercharged V8 as those cars, or the BMW-derived twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre unit as used by the new Land Rover Range Rover. The former would mean 518bhp, a 0-62mph time of around 5.5 seconds and a top speed of around 145mph, while the latter would bump power up slightly to 523bhp and could improve pace in line with the most potent Range Rover. 

This extended-wheelbase variant will be the third body style in the reborn Defender line-up, positioned as a luxury-oriented flagship to rival the likes of the Audi Q7 and BMW X7 in Europe – and segment stalwarts including the Cadillac Escalade and Jeep Grand Wagoneer in the US.

The model was previously photographed near Land Rover's headquarters in Warwickshire. The two sightings give a close look at the longer car's final styling and an indication of its readiness for production, before sketches posted to the European intellectual property website outed its basic design.

A precise launch date for the range-topping Defender has yet to be confirmed, but prior to the 2019 unveiling of the Defender 90 and Defender 110, a leaked internal presentation confirmed it will arrive in 2022 with eight seats – one more than the current five-door model. 

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The 130 will be positioned as the "premium explorer" of the Defender range, while the entry-level 90 is the "halo, image icon" and the 110 is the "definitive Defender". It's therefore likely to command a substantial price premium over the other Defender models and be available in top-end trim levels only. 

While the original Defender 130 featured an extended wheelbase over the 110, the new car's longer footprint instead comes courtesy of a visibly upsized rear overhang, which takes its total length to 5.1m - 342mm longer than the 110 and 227mm longer than the rival Mercedes-Benz G-Class

The previously spotted prototype was fitted with Land Rover's new mild-hybridised 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine, which in the Discovery produces 355bhp for a 0-62mph time of 6.5sec. It is also expected to be offered with diesel and plug-in hybrid options. 

Also expected, as reported by Autocar last year, is an open-backed pick-up truck variant to rival the Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi L200.

Vehicle programmes executive director Nick Collins told Autocar that "there were no structural limitations" to a Defender pick-up and hinted at the potential for such a model by recalling Land Rover's previous intentions to market the Defender as a complete "family" of models.

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Peter Cavellini 5 April 2022

Is there a stockpile of V8's?, nearly every brand is stuffing one under the Bonnet of there range topper, might be a few bargains in ten years?

Rodester 5 April 2022
Land Rover does it again!

Each new model goes straight to the top of its class, nothing compares. With its spacious, premium interior, powerful, smooth AJ V8, it will simply deliver a knockout blow to the competition, smashing them into obscurity and irrelevance.

Other, inferior manufacturers, particularly those from Germania should simply give in, yield to JLR's utter dominance of the SUV sector, an overwhelming dominance, premium dominance.

Andrew1 5 April 2022
The poshest Disco ever!