Bonkers 'never-say-die' Defender

Loopy Land Rovers are nothing new … though this just-announced special is certainly different, for one because it is based on an elderly model whose funeral has already been held.

CAN we call it a zoom-zoom zombie?

The tag kinda fits in respect to a just-announced celebration Land Rover model.

The Brit brand has revived its Defender – yeah, the one they officially killed off almost two years ago – and turned it into the ultimate turf-tearaway, by installing the old boy with a 5.0-litre V8 producing more grunt than the machine has ever had to previously cope with, at least in factory form.

The Defender Works was developed in recognition of 2018 being the brand’s 70th anniversary year.

The main draw isn’t so much that it’s a V8 – the type first ran one of those in 1979. It’s totally about the outputs, 297kW and 515Nm. No previous factory-developed Defender has ever packed so much.

It is also the fastest ever, though that’s really in respect to its startling claimed 0-100kmh sprint time. Land Rover’s timepiece says it’ll hit the legal highway limit from a standstill in 5.6 seconds, which makes it quicker than a Volkswagen Golf GTi.

Top speed is a wholly different matter. There’s a restrictor that tops it out at mere 170kmh. Does that sound meek? To the supercar set, it undoubtedly will. But, as anyone who has driven any other Defender will testify, that’s plenty quick enough in this old slugger.

So, who's up for it? Past Land/Range Rover performance product has always been readily available to New Zealand and the uptake has been keen.

In this instance, though, it is still unclear if this derivative will be on available to crazy Kiwis.

In announcing the vehicle’s development, Jaguar Land Rover New Zealand did not provide comment about potential availability. A request for further clarification, though, was met by this comment: "The orders have just opened so there are no plans to bring them to NZ yet – anyone who is interested in purchasing should see their local Land Rover dealer."

It is already known that the model cannot go in Australia, but presumably that’s probably because it would have to undergo Australian Design Rules certification.

No such restrictions apply to NZ, but keen Kiwis will have to act fast as the built count runs to just 150 units.

The probable price might easily be as crazy as the concept. The only prce to date applies to the United Kingdom and it's far from cheap there - they cite a sticker that is just over $280,000. Yup, that’s three times the cost of the final, similarly 90 Series-based runout edition sold here.

Land Rover is, of course, set to unveil a properly new Defender, potentially this year.

However, the brand has never been one to let a good marketing opportunity slip and there’s clearly a lot of interest in the original icon.

Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director, says his people have been discussing reintroducing a V8 Defender since 2014.

 “…when we were still building the Defender in Solihull. We knew the demand was there for a powerful and fast Defender; the Land Rover authenticity is the ultimate finishing touch for discerning clients purchasing these collector’s edition Defenders.”

The engine marries to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission with sport mode, beefed up brakes and “handling kit” which includes new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. It rides on bespoke 18-inch diamond-turned Sawtooth alloy wheels and 265/65 R18 all-terrain tyres. 

Eight standard body colours include two satin finishes – contrasting with a Santorini Black roof, wheel arches and front grille – finished with machined aluminium door handles, fuel filler cap and Defender bonnet lettering. A lighting upgrade includes bi-LED headlamps. Full Windsor Leather interior trim covers the dashboard, door panels, headlining and Recaro sports seats. Land Rover Classic’s own Classic Infotainment System is also fitted.