Sometimes you get behind the wheel of a car so expensive, and yet so grim, that you can’t help but cringe at the price. The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 V8 is not one of them, and even with an eye-watering price of $221,300 AUD plus on-road costs, it’s a fantastic ‘FlexUV’.
You see, when you go about ‘reviewing‘ any car, you have to consider the brand’s end goal. Is this a car they’re resting their future on? Or is this a great chance to get back to their roots and create something special?
Obviously, the D90 V8 is the latter. And while the automotive industry seems to spend more time than ever crunching numbers and striving for record profit margins in the wake of a global pandemic, it’s refreshing to see a brand go about business this way.
2023 Defender 90 V8 at a Glance
The design brief for the Land Rover Defender 90 V8 was simple, shove the supercharged V8 that produces 386kW and 625Nm into the short-wheelbase new Defender. It’s the same engine found in the F-Type, F-Pace, and other SVR products, and it creates a hilariously fun driving experience every time you head out.
Of course, a bespoke chassis tune was necessary to keep the car on four wheels, including a new Electronic Active Rear Differential, stiffer sway bars, unique spring and damper rates, stiffer bushes, and a trick Torque Vectoring by Braking system but don’t expect the car to handle like a sports SUV. For better or worse, it’s still a Defender inside and out.
At its core, the Land Rover Defender 90 V8 places itself in the same box as the Mercedes G-Wagon. Its price alone puts it there at first, but the technology in the new Pivi Pro(2) infotainment system, Rodeo Drive looks (especially in black on black), and off-road pedigree cements it as our definition of a ‘FlexUV’. Did I mention the soundtrack? Have a listen below.
Featured Video from Man of Many
2023 Defender 90 V8 By the Numbers
Sometimes the numbers tell most of the story, let’s see how the Defender 90 V8 stacks up.
|2023 Land Rover Defender 90 V8|
|Drivetrain||5000cc V8 Supercharged Petrol, 8-speed automatic, All-Wheel-Drive|
|Power||386kW @ 6,000 – 6,500rpm|
|Torque||625Nm @ 2,500 – 5,500rpm|
|Max Speed||240 km/h|
|Acceleration||0-100km/h in 5.2 secs|
|Fuel Economy||12.8 l/100km|
|Weight||from 2,546 kgs|
What Do the Numbers Say?
There are a few numbers I’d like to draw your attention to. Number one, the power figure of 386kW (518HP) tells you that the Defender V8 is packing a serious punch under the bonnet with a symphony to match. But at the same time, it’s carrying more than 2.5 tons of weight around with it, so the car isn’t particularly quick in a straight line. Even with all the power, the 0-100km/h figure of 5.2 seconds isn’t that impressive.
In our time with the car, it never felt that ‘fast’ by modern standards. Of course, I forgive it for the soundtrack of supercharger whine and thumping V8, however, the engine does feel like it has its work cut out for it pushing a car with the aerodynamic efficiency of a brick through the air.
That’s not to say it doesn’t feel ‘quick’ but it’s a long way off the sensation of the Jaguar F-Pace SVR that shares the same basic engine, albeit it with twenty extra killer wasps.
So where does the supercharged V8 engine make sense? It best suits the overall style of the vehicle more than it adds to the actual driving experience. It’s the sound you get under acceleration, the looks you get when you start it up in a shopping strip, the thumbs up you get from other Land Rover Defender drivers when they realise you’re the best kind of lunatic for spending a quarter million dollars on a shorty V8.
It’s the best kind of ‘flex’ because it’s understated, no one assumes the car has that engine under the bonnet, and unless a keen eye spots the quad exhaust tips poking out from the rear bumper, they wouldn’t either.
What’s the Land Rover Defender 90 V8 Like on the Inside?
Step inside the Land Rover Defender 90 V8 and you’ll notice a few bespoke additions to the fastest variant in the range. It starts with the seats trimmed in Ebony Windsor Leather with Miko Suedecloth and Robustec accents. I spent around 1000km in the D90 during our time with the car and can confirm they’re very comfortable for longer journeys.
The signature new Defender exposed Cross Car Beam is finished in Satin Black, while the sporty theme continues to the four-spoke steering wheel that’s wrapped in Alcantara and is backed by satin chrome gearshift paddles, unique to the V8 model. Leather covers the airbag housing and gear selector, while illuminated treadplates are completed with a V8 script to match the logos on the exterior.
We’ll also note here that the sound system is particularly great, a 14-speaker system with a subwoofer that’s built into the Defender 90 V8’s small interior, it’s a recipe for great sound and it delivers.
Does it Have Good Infotainment?
As mentioned, the Defender 90 V8 introduces the Pivi Pro(2) infotainment system with the option of the larger 11.4-inch touchscreen display. Our test vehicle was optioned with the screen, a gorgeous curved display that shapes itself around the dashboard and offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen is responsive, one of the higher-resolution displays on the market and adds to the technology-filled experience.
To combat battery drain during phone mirroring, the Defender has wireless device charging with an integrated signal booster that’s now fitted as standard for improved call quality.
Related: Land Rover Defender 130 Unveiled.
Man of Many’s Verdict on the Land Rover Defender 90 V8
The Land Rover Defender 90 V8 is quirky, fun, and makes absolutely no sense on paper. It’s the definition of a ‘FlexUV’ and it’s the type of vehicle that you buy with your heart, not your brain. Although if truth be told, those are often the best car purchases one can make.
Of course, we wouldn’t recommend the Defender 90 V8 if you’re looking for a sensible, fuel-efficient, luxury SUV for everyday duties, but if you enjoy the looks, the sound, the rarity, and the thought of owning something particularly special, go and buy one tomorrow. There’s some future value at play here too, and if you’re addicted to the used-car market like we are, we’d guess that you’ll lose less money on the supercharged V8 shorty in the long run.
The MY23 Land Rover Defender 90 V8 is priced at $221,300 AUD plus on-road costs in Australia. More information can be found at the Land Rover Australia website via the link below.
Featured Video from Man of Many