It could become the most capable of all new Defenders.

The Land Rover Defender 90 may be a newcomer to the US market but it’s been on sale in some regions around the world since 2019. Depending on where you are reading this from, you might be able to buy the smaller Defender with four- or six-cylinder gas and diesel engines. Apparently, a new engine choice for the two-door off-roader is currently under development.

Our photographers sent us a batch with new spy photos of a camouflaged two-door Defender. Snapped testing on public roads in Europe with British registration plates, the prototype looks almost exactly the same as the production 2021 Defender 90 with one little but a very important exception.

Gallery: 2021 Land Rover Defender 90 V8 spy photos

There are four exhaust tips at the back versus just two for the currently available Defender 90 models. Obviously, we couldn’t take a look under the hood but this arrangement should be a clear giveaway that there’s a more powerful V8 on the front axle. We’ve spied similar trial cars based on the larger Defender 110 and this new prototype doesn’t really come as a surprise.

All preliminary details point to Land Rover switching from its current 5.0-liter V8 to BMW’s twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8. Multiple sources claim that’s the engine the British automaker is currently testing in Defender prototypes and it could deliver in excess of 400 horsepower (298 kilowatts) depending on the exact tune. This could turn the Defender 90 into quite a capable machine, both off and on the road.

This late first sighting of a Defender 90 V8 prototype makes us believe Land Rover will unveil the larger Defender 110 V8 first. We expect to see it during the first half of 2021 with the two-door variant joining the range a few months later.

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