With a future Defender on the horizon, Jaguar Land Rover resurrects the fabled model in a final iteration celebrating 70 years of Land Rover production. With classic styling, ramped-up luxury, and a beefy V8 reminiscent of yesteryear's Defenders, the limited-edition Works V8 combines everything great about old SUVs in a brand-new box.
The ageless style of Land Rover Defender's iconically simple exterior remains quintessentially rugged for the 70th Anniversary Works V8 edition. And that's the whole point—that this is the mainstay that allowed Land Rover to establish themselves as a builder of utilitarian off-roaders. But while the design has managed to age well over the many years since its inception in 1983, the 70th Anniversary Defender does receive a few modern updates to highlight how far things have come in the interim.
Both a two-door and four-door Defender are available for the 70th Anniversary upgrades, and will still be known by their traditional '90' and '110' monikers. The first detail that stands out as being undeniably new is the 18-inch diamond-turned Sawtooth alloy wheels, housed under aggressively flared arches. Machined aluminum is employed for the door handles, fuel filler caps, and Defender lettering.
More careful observers will also notice a black contrasting roof or the bi-LED headlights that offer subtle cues to the recent build date. But for the majority of potential buyers, such elements are chickenfeed atop the classic forms that remain, for the most part, just as timeless as ever.
Drivetrain & Mechanicals
The biggest upgrade for this iteration of the Defender comes in the form of its new 5.0-liter V8, developed by Jaguar Land Rover and cranking out 400 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission courtesy of ZF routes all that power to all four wheels through a dual-speed transfer box that can end up to 90% of torque to either the front or rear axle. The dual-clutch gearbox is allegedly capable of shifts as quick as 200 milliseconds, allowing the Defender 90's bulk (weighing in somewhere around 4,000 pounds) to sprint from 0-60 miles per hour in only 5.6 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 106 mph.
Land Rover has also bolted on an upgraded suspension setup for this final iteration of their Defender. Springs, shocks, and sway bars fit into the package and seem to point to further go-fast efforts, although a low-range ratio in the transfer case similarly points to the fact that brute speed and power aren't the only goals for the Works V8—continuing and celebrating the brand's heritage of off-roading is equally as important.
Brakes for the Works V8 are sourced from Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations wing, who builds armored Land Rovers for more security-minded customers. And indeed, an upgraded setup is necessary to handle the power under the Works V8's hood, so the 13.2-inch rotors in front and 13.0-inchers out back are shared with armored Range Rovers and Land Rovers.
Interior & Tech
Over the years, Land Rover has slowly but surely trended towards the luxurious amenities that make its Range Rover subsidiary so popular amongst city folks, and the Works V8 is no exception. Fully bedecked in leather, including the dashboard, door panels, headliner, and a set of Recaro sport seats, the Works V8 brings a modern touch to the classically simple (dare we say uncomfortable?) Defenders of years past.
Land Rover Classic's infotainment system makes an appearance, and despite a slightly retro style includes DAB Classic Radio, smartphone integration, and GPS, all routed through a surround sound speaker system. Switchgear and interior trim remains relatively spartan, at least compared to similarly-priced luxury SUVs, but all in all, the interior of this Land Rover is a far cry from its predecessors.
Pricing & Buying
Jaguar Land Rover has limited production of the 70th Anniversary Works V8 to only 150 units, and every last one is already sold. Pricing started at just under $200,000 for a base 90, though undoubtedly, options selections could have bumped that figure towards $250,000 or more for a decked-out 110. Whether buyers will (or will be allowed to) flip their purchases for a profit on the secondhand market remains to be seen—anyways, deliveries haven't begun so would-be Defender dreamers will just have to wait for their brand new beast to beat up. But it's been more than four years since Defender production ended, so what's a few more months.
No other SUVs lie in the $200,000 price range with the level of ruggedly utilitarian style that the Work V8 Defender delivers. And yet, its contemporary styling and relative opulence put it at least in the same realm as the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga, and Rolls-Royce Cullinan, though none of its competitors truly combine the levels of retro style, historicity, tarmac abilities, and off-roading all wrapped up in a singular package.