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Land Rover Defender 130 V8 (2019 - )

The Land Rover Defender has always had a strong tie with the V8 engine

Starting price:
£114,185

Why we love it:
  • Impressive performance for such a large car
  • even-seater versatility
  • Still retains regular Defender’s excellent off-road systems
Where it could be better:
  • Fuel bills will be high
  • Some interior materials don’t feel up to scratch
  • 130’s large size makes it tricky to park and move about
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Introduction

Land Rover Defender 130 V8 review

The Land Rover Defender has always had a strong tie with the V8 engine. This high-output motor has been used to deliver reliable performance for a variety of these go-anywhere models, so it only makes sense for it to return to the latest generation car. Here, in 130 form, the Defender is at its most practical, too, with an extended bodylength and up to eight seats helping to give this high-riding SUV even more prowess when it comes to people-carrying ability. In fact, the 130’s interior now ensures that all occupants get a decent amount of space to stretch out and relax - even those in the rearmost rows. Land Rover has also kitted the 130 out with the same rugged materials as you’ll find in the rest of the Defender range, with lots of chunky grab handles and useful storage areas giving this car a solid, assured feel. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a V8 used in this generation of Defender, either, as it has already made an appearance in both 90 and 110 models. However, the 130 is the best option if you’re after out-and-out space as that body extension really helps to boost interior roominess. The supercharged V8 continues to remain the star attraction, though, providing an impressive rumble under even modest amounts of throttle. The fitment of the V8 engine also showcases this model as the tip-top 130 version, coming in above other grades in the pecking order. There aren’t too many V8-powered eight-seaters out there, either, so you could argue that the Defender 130 V8 is in a category of its own. Thankfully, it has enough on-board to ensure that you wouldn’t want to stray elsewhere even if there were a variety of rivals, with this car’s all-around usefulness being one of its key strengths. It’s large, has a well-sized boot and thanks to Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, can still go just about anywhere you need to go. Standard-fit road-focused tyres on the 130 V8 will need to be switched out for proper off-road rubber if you’re planning on more challenging trips off the beaten path, however. 

On The Road

Land Rover Defender 130 V8 review

Handling & Performance

Naturally, with a V8 engine under the bonnet, the 130 already feels geared up as a go-faster model. In fact, with 493bhp and 610Nm of torque, the 130 V8 will manage the 0-60mph sprint in a scarcely believable 4.5 seconds - that’s some near-supercar rivalling performance. It’ll carry onwards to a top speed of 149mph, too, if you have the space and ability to do so. Obviously, the 130’s massive size does make piloting it a little trickier than with ‘normal’ SUVs, so you do need to plan ahead if you’re travelling down a narrow country lane. Large wing mirrors do help - as do the 130’s variety of sensors and cameras - but the large proportions of this car do make themselves known quite often. This is particularly the case when parking; the 130’s length makes it quite the handful for a standard UK parking space and, for the most part, you tend to travel further away in a parking area in order to give yourself as much room as possible. Tight multi-storey parking areas are a challenge, too. But at higher speeds and when on the motorway the 130 V8 excels. While that engine is burbling and characterful around town, it quietens down pleasantly when you’re going a little bit quicker and, when coupled with a well-judged ride, makes this into a car that’ll happily devour longer journeys. There is some wind noise generated by the rather upright windscreen and blunt front end, but it’s not too bad and doesn’t annoy. 

Land Rover Defender 130 V8 review

Space & Practicality

Space really is the 130’s core offering. As mentioned, its increase in size over the standard 110 comes entirely through a longer body, which is why you only really notice the difference between the two when you look at the overhanging rear section. There are three seats in the second row and three seats in the rearmost row and all offer up plenty of legroom. There’s a good variety of USB-C charging points dotted about, too, so you shouldn’t have too many arguments concerning who gets to top up their devices. The extension in length also means that boot space is decent whether you’ve got the seats up or down. Even with all seats in place, you’ve still got 398 litres to play with - around the same as you’d get from a standard hatchback - but fold down those two rearmost rows and this soars to an impressive 2,516 litres - you’d need to be looking at a standard panel van to find more loading room. The V8 also comes with electrically-folding seats and though this sounds like less hassle, it’s quite easy to get the system confused - with some seats folding or raising when you don’t want them to - so it’d actually be a little easier to have normal physical controls to operate the seats with. While there are some nice materials here and there - the microsuede-covered steering wheel is a particular highlight - the V8’s interior remains largely the same as the standard Defender’s. Though that means you still get all the same great chunky dials and switches, it might be nice to see some higher-end materials used here and there to help justify this car’s extremely high price. 

Ownership

Land Rover Defender 130 V8 review

Running Costs

As you might expect with a big, heavy car powered by a large petrol engine, running costs aren’t going to be the best for the Defender 130 V8. Land Rover claims 19.6mpg combined, though even that seems optimistic as during our time with the Defender 130 V8 it practically chewed its way through fuel. If you’re travelling at moderate motorway speeds it does creep up, but any around-town driving quickly erodes these gains. Expect to be visiting the petrol station frequently if you’re considering this V8-powered Defender. High CO2 emissions of 325g/km will mean that the Defender won’t be cheap to tax, either, while regular maintenance costs will be higher than those on a regular diesel-powered model. Remember, too, that the V8’s larger wheels - and subsequently larger tyres - will be costly to replace and given this car’s high weight, we don’t expect them to last all that long. 

Verdict

Land Rover Defender 130 V8 review

This V8-powered 130 feels like a suitable flagship for the Defender range. Powerful and with boatloads of presence, it’s a car which does have a fair bit of character - something that is so often lacking from this segment. It’s also very usable thanks to its eight-seater layout, while the large boot means that it loses nothing when it comes to load-lugging abilities. But unless you really want the tip-top Defender, you might find the V8’s running costs too high to stomach while its punchy costs elsewhere in terms of maintenance will only add fuel to the fire. It’s a brilliantly executed performance SUV, this one, but some of the best bits are presence on the ‘standard’ Defender - and you’ll find that one considerably cheaper to run. 

Secure your test drive today
Request a Land Rover Defender test drive
By Jack Evans
May 02, 2024

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