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Land Rover Defender goes sick

Serious senior: Land Rover’s limited-edition Defender Works V8 reintroduces bent-eight power to the old workhorse, perhaps for the last time.

Last laugh for Land Rover Defender as 297kW V8 transforms old workhorse


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17 Jan 2018

LAND Rover is sending off its venerable current generation Defender with a bang, grafting a thumping 297kW 5.0-litre V8 under the squared-off bonnet to create an unlikely muscle car with three times the power of the standard diesel offering.

Just 150 of the UK-only Defender Works V8 specials will built by Land Rover Classic to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the rugged British workhorse that has already gone out of production ahead of a new model due in 2019.

Gone is the rattling Ford-sourced 2.2-litre diesel engine putting out a sedate 90kW and 360Nm, replaced by a naturally aspirated petrol V8 mated with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission that pushes 515Nm of torque to the wheels via a two-speed transfer box and centre torque-biasing differential.

While the standard Defender is normally timed by calendar over the zero-to-100km/h sprint, the Works V8 belts it out in 5.6 seconds.

Top speed is limited to 170km/h, which is probably just as well.

To go with the extra grunt, the Works V8 gets bigger brakes with 335mm discs and four-pot callipers on the front, along with fat 18-inch wheels with 265/65R all-terrain tyres. Uprated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars help to keep the beast on the road.

It is not the first V8 in the history of the Defender which traces its origins back to 1948 and the Series 1 Land Rover. In 1979, the Series III Land Rover boasted a 3.5-litre V8 from Rover, detuned to 68kW.

In 1990, a 50th anniversary Defender was powered by a 140kW V8 with an automatic transmission.

Jaguar Land Rover Classic director Tim Hannig said the idea of reintroducing a V8 Defender was something the company had been discussing as far back as 2014.

“We knew the demand was there for a powerful and fast Defender,” he said. “The Land Rover authenticity is the ultimate finishing touch for discerning clients purchasing these collector’s edition Defenders.”

In the UK, the Works V8 will set buyers back £150,000 ($A260,000) for the two-door 90. It is not recorded if Land Rover Defender’s highest-profile fan, Queen Elizabeth, has decided to trade up for one to replace her favourite Landie at Balmoral.

Just in case, Land Rover has named the leather interior trim Windsor Leather.

Even though the Defender has been out of production since 2016, Land Rover still has more to come in the UK, promising: “A select number of upgrades inspired by Defender Works V8 will also be available to purchase soon from Land Rover Classic, including power upgrades for the TDCi diesel engine, high-performance suspension and braking kits.”

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