Land Rover Defender Works V8 First Drive: Hot-Rod Tractor

Editorial Note: No, we still haven’t gotten the awesome Land Rover Defender in the United States (but it is coming). But while we wait for a redesigned version of Land Rover’s iconic off-roader to return to our shores, we thought you’d enjoy reading this short review from Motor1’s German edition, focusing on the 405-horsepower Defender Works V8.

The dead live longer: At the end of January 2016 the last Land Rover Defender officially rolled off the assembly line. But for the brand’s birthday, Land Rover is putting the Defender line back to work for a small, final run of the iconic off-roader, complete with a 405-horsepower V8 engine. We’ve now had the opportunity to drive the extremely powerful cult classic.

For Adventure, Defender:

Land Rover had already transplanted mighty engines (for the times) into the Defender’s predecessors. In 1979, the Series II borrowed a 3.5-liter Rover V8 that packed a whopping 91 horsepower. In the 1980s that Rover V8 was amped up to 137 hp. And in 1992, the 50th anniversary Defender got 184 hp. Finally, in 1998, a 193-hp 4.0-liter V8 arrived.

And now, 20 years later, the Land Rover Defender Works V8 is here, but it’s no incremental power increase. Just imagine transplanting the heart of a 20-year-old Olympic champion into the body of a 70-year-old man. That’s basically what Land Rover has done with the Defende...