What is it?
Land Rover first put a V8 in a Series III in 1979 and in the 101 Forward Control as early as 1972, but, specials variants aside, the basic Land Rover hasn’t had one since the 1990s.
(Incidentally, I advise against browsing which old Land Rovers have been fitted with which engines and when and where, in case you want to lose several hours and start missing work deadlines.)
But now the Land Rover Defender V8 is back, unsurprisingly with the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 that Land Rover uses elsewhere in its line-up. The Defender V8 isn’t a product of the Special Vehicle Operations division but a regular Defender model, available alongside the rather more frugal versions.
I suppose, depending on where you live, what the regulations are and what kind of fuel is cheaply available to you, it could be the most sensible choice. But I suspect that it will sell because people want it – and because, one day, perhaps relatively soon, you will never be able to buy a new V8-powered Defender again.
While being a regular range-sitter and not an SVO model, it does still get some significant chassis changes over your regular diesel or Defender plug-in hybrid. The suspension settings have been recalibrated and there are new anti-roll bars to limit body movements and make the whole caboodle more precise. The eight-speed automatic gearbox and low-range transfer case remains, but standard is an electronically controlled limited-slip differential that will also torque-vector by braking, pulling on an inside-rear wheel to help the Defender turn.
All of this comes in both 90 and 110 forms but, somehow, the shorter, three-door model feels more appropriate.
There are V8 badges, blue brake callipers for show and 22in wheels with all-season tyres as standard, although you can downgrade to 20in wheels and fit off-road rubber if you want as a no-cost option.
Inside, it's darker than usual, with the dashboard and steering wheel spokes finished in crackle black (like non-slip pick-up loadbay paint) and a suede-like material covering the steering wheel and seats. But it’s still an airy interior, thanks to a big glass area.