The V8 Land Rover Defender May Get an Engine From an Unusual Source

Since the arrival of the redesigned Land Rover Defender, the off-roading SUV has continuously impressed reviewers and customers alike. Despite this, some die-hard fans mourned the loss of the V8-powered Defender. Thankfully, there seems to be a glimmer of hope. Motor1 recently spotted a Defender prototype testing in Europe, which could have a secret V8 under its hood.

What currently powers the 2021 Land Rover Defender?

A 2021 Silver Land Rover Defender drives on rough terrain.
2021 Land Rover Defender | Land Rover

If you live in the U.S., you can currently choose between two available engine options for the 2021 Land Rover Defender. The first is is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine developing 296 hp and 295 lb-ft. The second is a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with a mild hybrid system. Total output is rated at 395 hp and 406 lb-ft. In terms of transmissions, the only option available is an eight-speed automatic. As you’d expect from an off-roading SUV, all-wheel-drive comes standard on all trim levels.

While these engine options for the U.S.-bound Land Rover Defender are powerful, the model has a past filled with V8’s. Since the 1980’s the Defender has had an available V8 under its hood. It’s not like Jaguar Land Rover doesn’t currently develop a potential V8 for the Defender. In fact, the carmaker has a supercharged V8 that currently lives under the hood of the F-Type and various Range Rover models. However, a new rumor covered by Motor1 suggests the potential powerplant may, in fact, come from Bavaria.

Could the Defenders V8 actually come from BMW?

A 2021 Land Rover Defender wading through water.
2021 Land Rover Defender | Land Rover

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While it would make sense for a V8 Land Rover Defender to use an off the shelf engine, rumors suggest otherwise. According to Motor1, the running theory is that the V8-powered SUV may actually get a bit of help from BMW. The V8 in question is BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged engine that lives under the hood of its most expensive models. Motor1 reports that this supposed engine could develop over 400 hp in the off-roading SUV. However, the most powerful option currently available develops just shy of 400 hp. If the V8 wants to justify a price increase, it will have to offer more than that.

The reason to ditch the Land Rover engine could come down to the sheer size. Being a smaller displacement unit, BMW’s engine is likely smaller, more powerful, and more efficient. Additionally, the turbocharged nature could provide excellent torque figures, which could come in handy when off-roading. The lighter weight upfront could also preserve the Defender’s overall weight distribution.

When could a V8 Defender arrive?

As of writing, Land Rover has yet to confirm the potential arrival of this BMW-powered Defender. However, according to Motor1, the prototype currently undergoing testing is the smaller 90 model. The publication also notes seeing prototypes of the larger 110 with what seems to be the same powertrain. Since the larger model has been spotted more readily, rumors suggest this will be the first model to break cover. The smaller 90 models should follow suit a few months later.

Motor1 suggests that these V8-powered off-roaders could make a debut as early as the first half of 2021. If that is the case, we could see this Defender hit the showroom floors before the end of 2021. Now we have to wait for Land Rover to make its big announcement.