2022 Land Rover Defender V8 answers your supercharged 5.0-liter prayers

Nick Dimbleby

Land Rover is adding a 518-hp V-8 to both the two-door Defender 90 and four-door Defender 110 for 2022, along with new options to widen the tough off-roader’s appeal.

2022 Land Rover Defender front fording
Nick Dimbleby

The supercharged 5.0-liter V-8, used across the range of Jaguar Land Rover products, is joining the 3.0-liter, mild-hybrid 395-hp turbo inline-six and the entry-level 2.0-liter, 296-hp turbo-four. For 2022, the V-8 will be standard in the top two trim levels of both the Defender 90 and 110.

Switching to the V-8 powerplant meant that Land Rover engineers had to retune the suspension for both on-road and off-road performance. That called for new spring rates, stiffer anti-roll bars, and a new electronic active rear differential that knows what to expect from the V-8 and works in concert with a yaw controller to allow varying levels of tail-wagging before stepping in, as selected by the driver.

2022 Land Rover Defender rear three quarter
Brandan Gillogly

Visually, the Defender V8 will set itself apart from the rest of the Defender lineup with quad exhaust exits and 22-inch wheels with Xenon Blue calipers clamping massive, 15-inch front rotors. Inside, the refreshed SUV gets illuminated door sills, and the Defender’s signature structural magnesium dash bar is finished in satin black. Upholstery is Ebony Windsor Leather with Miko Suedecloth and Robustec accents.

“The 5.0-liter V-8 supercharged engine further enhances the unique character of the Defender. It sounds fantastic and delivers incredible performance—providing new levels of driver appeal,” said Iain Gray, Senior Manager, Powertrain Advanced Engineering for Jaguar Land Rover. “Our engineering focus has been to optimize powertrain calibration for Defender to deliver both responsive on-road performance and fine control off-road—all without compromising the Defender vehicle’s all-terrain capability and wading ability.”

2022 Land Rover Defender V8 wheel brake
Nick Dimbleby

At the top of the model range, Land Rover has added the Carpathian Edition. Available exclusively in Carpathian Grey metallic with a Navrik Black roof, hood, and tailgate, this range-topping SUV does get a little cheeky with same Xenon Blue brake calipers found on the standard V8 model, with which it shares its interior.

It’s not just the top-end models that engineers sweated for 2022. The optional wireless device charging and signal booster is now standard across the Defender lineup and a new, larger touchscreen is optional. The 11.4-inch screen is 60 percent larger than the standard touchscreen.

When we had a chance to drive the 2021 Defender 110 with the mild hybrid system and its 395-hp turbocharged inline-six, power was more than adequate and we had no trouble kicking up rooster tails on dunes in the desert and drifting through the fine sand when the electronic controls were dialed back a bit. Of course, more power is always welcome, and the high end of the SUV market is filled with brawny bruisers that are quicker than many sports cars were just a few years ago. Land Rover claims a 0-60 rip takes just 4.9 seconds in the Defender V8 90, so expect the heavier 110 to be just a tick behind.

There’s still no word on pricing for the 2022 Defender lineup, so expect that news to drop before these upgraded models hit dealerships later this year.

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