You call that a V8? This is a V8. Twisted's answer to the recently reviewed Zulu Defender is this, its latest creation, the loopy T40s

What is it?

It's the reply to our recent JE Engineering Zulu Defender review. No sooner had the ink dried on that did the Autocar phone ring. On the other end was Twisted, keen to prove that JE Engineering isn't the only one shoehorning big V8s into Land Rover Defenders.

And it's quite a big V8, too: a 6.2-litre middle finger. To be more precise, it's the 6.2 LS3 small-block V8 from Chevrolet's Corvette, along with also countless other installations. "Surely it doesn't fit," I said, lifting the bonnet. "It fits," said Alex Duckett, operations director at Twisted, beaming a smile, "just."

He wasn't wrong; it did appear to be in there, and with it, GM's 6L80 six-speed automatic gearbox, through which it drives all four wheels. Like JE, Twisted will either take your own Defender and spruce it up, or you can choose from one of 240 the company bought just before the end of Defender production and have it, er, Twisted.

Our example here is probably the most outrageous possible. Twisted has taken a standard 90, popped out its diesel unit and dropped in that V8 to the tune of £39,995, which is more than the original donor Defender cost in the first place.

It has a name, too: the T40s, although this reflects the trim level rather than the V8 under the bonnet. As with JE's Defenders, Twisted's T40, T40s, T60 and T80 trims are really just a basic guide, because Sir or Madam can pretty much have whatever they desire - for a price.  

What's it like?

That price, at least in this particular case, is £116,284. Now, here in the real world this seems like a lot of money, but for Twisted's higher-end customers, cash is perhaps a little more abundant. Also, Twisted hasn't just fitted the Defender with a V8 and then stuck a brew on. 

Firstly, the 's' bit of the T40s designation means there's Twisted Progressive suspension fitted, including new anti-roll bars, springs and dampers, all tuned with performance in mind. Then there are the six-pot Alcon brakes with 365mm discs on the front wheels and four-pot versions with 300mm discs on the rears. The alloys are deep-dished and 18in, the tyres knobbly 285/60 jobs.

The list goes on, covering four sheets of A4, but some of the highlights include the Recaro CS seats, mounted on Twisted's own raised subframes covered in bespoke leather, along with lots and lots of Alcantara and a 350mm Momo Millenium fixed steering wheel.

All of which adds up to not only a hell of a lot of money, but also probably the most convincing modded Defender we've ever laid hands on. You realise that the moment you turn the key. Unlike the Zulu, the T40s's LS3 only needs a second to fire with a bark and kick of torque roll, but almost immediately it settles to a steady but guttural idle.

Do little more than glance at the throttle pedal, though, and the results are dramatic. Throttle response is savage, the rev counter firing around the dial in an instant in neutral and causing the 90 to flex on its springs; behind, all manner of foliage and wildlife is blown into the bushes at the business end of Twisted's stainless steel exhaust. 

The T40s has no traditional gearlever, instead a sort of backlit touch pad with which to select gears. Pressing 'D' causes a mechanical clunk beneath you and instantly the LS3 and handbrake do battle. Easing off the handbrake brings about a surprisingly swift and rolling idle. It's an indication of this engine's intent and also a nightmare in tight parking situations.

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Initial hook up is a little jerky into first gear and the gearbox isn't afraid to hang on to its ratios. There's no Sport mode but, with the V8 howling on a scale of bear to banshee as the revs rise, you won't particularly care. This is a car for the unashamedly extroverted, up there with supercars for its head-turning potential. 

Rolling across broken town roads it becomes apparent that the T40s rides decently well for a Defender (and particularly a 90). There's still the odd crash and jump over the worst potholes, but much of the secondary fidget and jostle has been tamed by decent damping. The brakes are a little wooly at the top of the pedal, but that's quickly replaced by a consistent meat soon after at all speeds.

Talking of speed, mashing the throttle sends the T40s squatting back on its rear axle before spinning all four of its wheels in the dry. It doesn't take long before the chunky tyres and T40s's 1900kg bulk win traction and there you sit, sweaty-palmed, in a black, boxy wall of sound marvelling at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

The steering remains vague off centre, but Twisted has managed to eek some life from it a few degrees later. Make no mistake, this is still a heavy, slow steering set-up which requires serious commitment in tight bends, but the Twisted's suspension impresses once again in the way it keeps the T40s's body propped largely upright. The odd mid-corner imperfection still spoils things, though, and the savagery with which the throttle reintroduces itself takes courage and skill to master, not helped by the often indecisive gearbox. 

It's no driver's car, then, and unlike other models in the Twisted range, the T40s doesn't get refinement enhancements, so it's also a noisy thing at speed. But despite that, the intensity of the whole experience is difficult to dislike, and its superb Recaro seats and genuinely impressive interior quality enhancements make it feel a special thing, too.

Should I buy one?

Not if you're expecting all the Land Rover Defender's usual faults to be solved by throwing money at it. To sit in it's still a Defender; okay, so the T40s's seats are a revelation and the Momo wheel leaves more room for your knees, but it remains cramped for the driver and unrefined on a long journey. Is it worth £116k? Objectively, no, of course it isn't.

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However, most of us view the world quite differently to Twisted's T40s V8 customers when it comes to finances. If you can stomach the price, then you are getting a truly bespoke service, a genuinely better-handling and better-riding Defender, and one that has an absolute gem of an engine. 

So if I had the cash, would I buy one? Subjectively, yes, of course I would. 

Twisted T40s

Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £116,284 (as tested); Engine V8, 6162cc, petrol Power 430bhp at 6250rpm; Torque 442lb ft at 4000-5900rpm; 0-62mph 5.8sec; Top speed 134mph; Gearbox 6-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1902kg; Economy 18.0mpg (combined); CO2/tax band na

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bowsersheepdog 13 April 2016

A hundred and sixteen grand?

For that money one could own a Boxster and a Volvo V70, plus have enough left over to treat one's mistress to an MX5.
Paul73 12 April 2016

Steering rack????

"Make no mistake, this is still a heavy, slow rack which requires serious commitment in tight bends"

Don't Defenders have steering boxes rather than racks?!?!?!?

Harry P 12 April 2016

What steering?

Paul73 wrote:

"Make no mistake, this is still a heavy, slow rack which requires serious commitment in tight bends"

Don't Defenders have steering boxes rather than racks?!?!?!?

I think the standard Defender actually has rubber bands and paperclips for steering.
The idea of this much power in a Defender is definitely only for the brave and those with more money than sense!

TS7 12 April 2016

Khan's efforts...

...were, and are, a bad joke. This at least raises a smile.
smokescreen38 12 April 2016


TS7 wrote:

...were, and are, a bad joke. This at least raises a smile.

Ill second that. All he knows, is quilted leather interior, huge silly wheels, big stereo, and the performance mod a computer chip. Oh that'll be an extra £25k+ sir. Ouch!