Land Rover Defender 110 V8 2022 Review

V8 engines are becoming extinct. No one needs an eight-cylinder wardrum producing more than 400 horsepower when a turbocharged V6 or even an electric powertrain can achieve comparable results with even better fuel economy, correct? Just take a look at Ferrari. Their entry-level 296 GTB is powered by a V6 engine, as is Toyota's work truck, the Tundra.

In fact, in today's ever-changing automotive landscape, the V8 engine has become more of a symbol than anything else, a relic of a bygone era, and an obsolete method of propulsion. But all hope is not lost. There are some high-ranking officials who believe that reducing the number of cylinders and engine displacement has a negative impact on the personality, charisma, and acoustic appeal of a vehicle, all of which influence car purchasing decisions.

Lexus has kept their V8 in the IS 500, Chevrolet has developed a flat-plane crank V8 for the Corvette Z06, and when we heard that Land Rover had decided to install a V8 in the Defender, we couldn't help but salivate.

And this is no ordinary V8. It's a 5.0-liter supercharged engine called the P525 by Land Rover, and it's the same engine found in Range Rover models and Jaguar F-Types. It generates 518 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque via an 8-speed automatic transmission. This is 123 hp and 55 lb-ft more than the six-cylinder Defender P400, and it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds, which is nearly a full second faster than the P400.

Excessive? Yes, but so are the Mercedes G-Wagon, the Ford F-150 Raptor, and the RAM 1500 TRX, and we all know how well those vehicles sell. Therefore, there is still demand for these V8s. The Defender is available with both two- and four-door configurations, and even at MSRP. Not that it is inexpensive to begin with, as the base price is $128,100 and our test vehicle cost $132,795.

We are aware that this Defender is not tuned for Nürburgring lap times or track performance, but we believe it is a missed opportunity to not refer to it as a Defender SVR or SVO. Simply calling it a P525 V8 does not maximize its marketability. Perhaps they are reserving that badge for their premium Jaguar and Range Rover brands, but give the general public a halo vehicle to aspire to, as AMG does. Let people know that this Defender is unique due to its engine, and give it more distinguishing exterior features in addition to the subtle V8 emblem on the door sill and quad exhausts. We are aware that this would reduce the vehicle's ground clearance and off-road capability, but let's be honest: who buys a V8 Defender to go off-roading? Do you honestly believe that the F-Pace SVR would sell as well if Jaguar renamed it the F-Pace P525 V8? Likely not. But who can say? Perhaps they are still thinking about it. In reality, the V8 in the F-Type R produces 575 hp, which is considerably more than the Defender's stated 518 hp output.

Regardless of the vehicle in which JLR installs this V8, it significantly improves it in every way. From the F-Type SVR and F-Pace SVR to the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography, equipping them with this blown V8 adds a great deal of personality to the driving experience and completely transforms them into charismatic luxury vehicles. We're discussing sound, driver feel, and throttle response - all the essentials that contribute to driver engagement, and all the things a V6 or four-cylinder engine could never hope to replicate.

Not that the Defender's P400 inline-six powertrain was in dire need of an upgrade, but it prefers a comfortable and leisurely drive over one dominated by a heavy right foot. With two additional cylinders, the V8 offers instant low-end torque and a thrilling soundtrack resembling a chainsaw ripping up to its 6,750 rpm redline. There are even pops and bangs on throttle overrun when the engine is revved up. It's not as extravagant as an F-Pace SVR, but it's loud and distinct. Even with the windows up, you can hear the supercharger whine during acceleration if you listen closely. Frankly, we believe it has a more distinctive sound than the G 550. Let us go even further with this. We would choose this Defender V8 over the G 550 due to its more spacious interior and trunk, less ostentatious road presence, and market availability, pocketing the difference in price to cover our exorbitant fuel costs.

Rapid acceleration effectively conceals the Defender's ungainly curb weight. Once you reach speeds greater than 120 km/h, weight and air resistance begin to catch up and dampen the excitement. We're certain that the two-door 90-Series will be even faster, but the 110 is always the better option. This type of power delivery makes a vehicle feel athletic and nimble. A simple throttle prod propels this heavy Defender forward swiftly and without hesitation. You won't get this type of performance from a turbocharged V8, and we're going to miss this supercharged unit dearly once Land Rover fully transitions to V8s sourced from BMW.

Land Rover did not simply perform a V8 heart transplant and leave. In addition, the chassis and suspension were modified to accommodate the heavier engine. To better distribute its increased output, new anti-roll bars, updated spring and damper rates, and a new electronic active rear differential have been added. Could they have continued on? Absolutely. Add air intakes to the hood to enhance cooling and engine performance, and install sportier seats and interior trim to demonstrate that this is not a typical Defender. However, the V8-specific steering wheel with suede wrap and leather airbag cover is a nice touch and our favorite wheel in the JLR lineup.

But it hasn't lost any of the qualities we loved about it in the beginning; it just has a more robust engine. Even on the optional 22-inch wheels, the ride is incredibly soft and compliant, justifying its use as a daily driver and road-trip companion. The steering feels identical to that of non-V8 models; it is light and requires little rotational effort.

Putting the shifter into S and activating Dynamic Mode in the driver menu puts the Defender on edge, spicing up every inch of the powertrain, and relaxes the stability and traction control system, allowing for some grin-inducing power oversteer mid-corner. We can tell that the Defender does not particularly appreciate this behavior, but that V8 constantly tempts you to test its cornering limits. "Did you see it in No Time to Die, officer?"

The eight-speed transmission is a gem, swift when necessary and smooth and refined when a more relaxed driving style is required. It demonstrates why this transmission manufactured by ZF remains the gold standard. We also like the metallic paddle shifters that flank the steering wheel; they're chunky, oddly heavy, but feel more upscale than those found in more expensive sports cars such as the BMW M4 and Porsche 911. After a series of hard acceleration maneuvers, a warning light indicating a suspension fault illuminated, and the air suspension failed to respond. However, cycling the ignition on and off and letting the Defender sit for fifteen minutes resolved the issue. Possibly a sensor problem or electronic glitch, as it never occurred again.

The V6-equipped Defender P400's 15.1 L/100km fuel consumption was already dismal, but the V8's 17.1 L/100km combined city and highway fuel consumption was even worse. Interestingly, this is exactly the same yield as our Mercedes-Benz G 550 test vehicle. However, if you are seriously considering the Defender V8, you have likely already resigned yourself to triple-digit fuel costs.

The Defender with a V8 engine is a display of power for the sake of power. It is not necessary; the standard P400 and even the P300 are sufficient for daily tasks and transporting people. For those who demand the best from the platform, who want to take advantage of the eight-cylinder powerplant, and who simply want to enjoy the thrill, sound, and engagement provided by the extra two cylinders, the Defender V8 is the best option. Those in line for a G-Wagon should reconsider their position. It is indeed that good.

Specifications:

  • Model: 2022 Land Rover Defender 110 P525
  • Paint Type: Santorini Black
  • Base Price: $128,100
  • Price as Tested: $132,795
  • Wheelbase(mm): 3,022
  • Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,018 / 2,008 / 1,967
  • Curb weight (kg): 2,678
  • Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
  • Horsepower: 518 hp @ 6,000 - 6,500 rpm
  • Torque: 461 lb-ft @ 2,500 - 5,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
  • Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 17.1
  • Tires: 275/45R22

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