The New Defender hasn't even hit the showrooms yet, and already there are rumors of high-performance variants. The motoring press reports that a Defender SVR may be on the way, making use of BMW's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 motor.
While this does seem a bit anathema to the Defender ethos, the new Defender is a new car for a new age, and there are plenty of tuners stuffing high-performance engines into the original Defender. The SVR specification has been very successful with the Range Rover line, blurring the line between on- and off-road performance. Of course, the new Defender is based on the Range Rover's underpinnings, so an SVR version is a relatively easy thing to engineer.
Rumors have it that Land Rover has already built a prototype Defender SVR. They made arrangements with BMW a few months ago to use their engines in future vehicles. The Jaguar AJ-V8 motor Land Rover has used for years is being phased out; it has been built by Ford and purchased by JLR since the Detroit company sold their British assets to Tata in 2008. Ford is now shutting down the Bridgend, Wales factory that makes the engines, and selling it to Ineos to build the Grenadier.
Of course, BMW is no stranger to tuning motors, and the Defender SVR's motor would probably be derived from something from the M division in Munich. The goal is a familiar one for a BMW motor -- to go after Mercedes-Benz's top-spec G-Wagen, the AMG G63. This is part of Land Rover's plan to sell the Defender across the price spectrum -- while the base model Defender 90 (on sale in the USA later in 2020) should have a base price in the mid $40,000s, the SVR could go deep into six figures.
The rumor mill suggests that the Defender SVR will only come in 110 spec, with a standard air suspension. The Terrain Response 2 system will remain intact, with an added Track mode. There's probably going to be a body kit, and special wheels, and a fancier exhaust. The interior will probably be heavily uprated, closer to or surpassing the top-tier Defender X trim level, rather than the basic, wipe-out interiors many enthusiasts have been building on Land Rover's online configurator. A reveal late in 2020 is likely, with an on-sale date in 2021. Expect the price to be six figures.
Though Land Rover traditionalists may be in arms about the idea of a Defender SVR, it's necessary in the marketplace. Target #1 is obviously the Mercedes-Benz AMG G63, which is the only other high-performance vehicle in the market that also has legitimate off-road chops. There's also the chance of drawing sales away from other high-performance European SUVs, or even from more rough-and-tumble American vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT and Trackhawk, Dodge Durango SRT, and perhaps some Ford F-150 Raptor sales. There's also likely a market for current Range Rover SVR owners. The new Defender has already proven that it can be equipped across the range, from wipe-out floors and steel wheels to Windsor leather massage seats and 22" rims. SVR is the natural next step.
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