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Almost a year ago, Land Rover announced the Defender would be making a comeback to North America. Sales are already underway but the dealers are still waiting for the V8 model to arrive. It hasn’t even debuted yet but a new batch of spy photos shows development is advancing.

A test prototype of the Defender V8 was recently caught by our spy photographers performing high-speed tests on the Nurburgring. It’s a little weird to see such an off-road-focused SUV on the track but the engineers of the British company probably want to make sure it’s as capable on the pavement as it is off the road.

Gallery: Land Rover Defender V8 new spy photos

This time around, Land Rover is using a different test car compared to the previous spy photos. It’s an all-black Defender with quad exhaust pipes at the back and massive brakes with red calipers. Other than the exhaust though, this Defender looks pretty much identical to the model that’s currently available at the showrooms.

Reports from 2019 suggested the Defender V8 could use a version of BMW’s 4.4-liter V8 under the hood. That’s not confirmed at this point but it’s now somewhat of an industry secret after the two companies signed a powertrain deal a while ago. 

In its range-topping form, the eight-cylinder unit delivers 617 horsepower (460 kilowatts) and 553 pound-feet (750 Newton-meters) but don’t expect that kind of power to be offered for the off-roader from Coventry. Instead, word on the street is we could be looking at a 500-hp (373 kW) tune of the engine, which will make the Defender V8 a credible rival to the Mercedes-AMG G63.

While this prototype looks practically ready to hit the production lines, we don’t expect to see the model go on sale before the second half of 2021. We have no information regarding the automaker’s plans to offer the V8 in both the four-door Defender 110 and the two-door Defender 90. 

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