Thanks to a New V8, the 2022 Defender Is the Fastest, Most Powerful Model Yet

Land Rover’s other upgrades include something called the Carpathian Edition

V8 Land Rover Defender
You want a V8 Defender? You got a V8 Defender.
Jaguar Land Rover

If you haven’t heard, there’s something of a V8 arms race happening in the SUV and truck world. Jeep is adding a V8 to the Wrangler to compete with the Ford Bronco. Ford is adding a V8 in the F-150 Raptor to compete with the Ram 1500 TRX. And now, Land Rover has announced that the 2022 Defender will be available with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 in both the two-door 90 and four-door 110 models (previously it was a four-cylinder or inline-six).

For many, this is a welcome upgrade to a storied SUV. For others, the whole V8 craze may seem a little beside the point, especially when the reason to buy a Defender is for the slower-going off-road chops, and as Car and Driver writes, the “overlanding-focused Adventure and Explorer packs, which add such features as a roof rack, snorkel, and cargo box, are absent from the [V8 models].” So what’s the point here? According to Land Rover, the new engine makes this the “fastest and most powerful production Defender ever made.” Ah, that’s why.

We’re assuming the “fast and most powerful Defender” label applies specifically to the smaller two-door 90 model, as that’s the only one where they’ve given specific speed stats. For that option, Land Rover says the V8 variant will go 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 149 mph, a speed most owners will probably never go. But hey, most Defender owners will also never go off-roading in the arid deserts or the frigid Arctic where the company put the vehicle to the test. The point is the possibility.

If you’re looking for the power specs, that would be 518 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque, which Car and Driver notes is the same as the Range Rover Sport Autobiography. (The V8 is new to the Defender but shared across the Jaguar Land Rover lineup.) 

The automaker is offering a number of other upgrades outside of the powertrain, including adding a premium version of the V8 model called the Carpathian Edition. The upper-level trim features some nice aesthetic touches, but most interestingly is finished with something called the Land Rover Satin Protective Film, which the company explains is a wrap that gives “a contemporary semi-matte finish that is designed to help protect against everything from parking lot scratches to off-road brush and scrub scratches.” There’s also a new Dynamic mode in the Terrain Response System, specific to the V8, which Road & Track explains in detail but says is basically a drift mode … for the Defender.

We don’t know the pricing yet, though Car and Driver estimates the 90 V8 will start at $85K and the 110 V8 at $90K. We do know that it will go on sale in the U.S. this summer.

Update: We do know pricing now, and the engine upgrade doesn’t come cheap. The 2022 model will start at $47,700 MSRP, but the V8 versions are more than double that. The Defender 90 V8 will be $97,200 (Carpathian Edition $104,000) and the Defender 110 V8 will be $100,400 (Carpathian Edition $107,200).

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