297kW off-roader celebrates marque's 70th anniversary

Land Rover has taken the wraps off a very special creation this week - the Defender Works V8 - as part of its 70th birthday celebrations.

Featuring a 297kW/515Nm 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine under the bonnet, the special-edition model is both the most powerful and fastest Defender ever made - it can even sprint from 0-60mph (0-96km/h) in just 5.6 seconds. Top speed is rated at 170km/h (106mph).

Shifting gears is an eight-speed automatic transmission with Pistol Shift supplied by ZF, sending drive to the ground via all four wheels. The all-wheel drive system features a low-range transfer box, heavy-duty front and rear differentials, along with a torque biasing centre differential.

By comparison, the most recent Defender was powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel making just 90kW and 360Nm, good for a 15.8-second 'stroll' from 0-100km/h. The diesel was also only available with a six-speed manual.

Just 150 of these special off roaders will be produced, available in both '90' and larger '110' body styles.

Other special features apart from the obvious drivetrain differences include uprated brakes (335mm front/300mm rear), revised springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, along with exclusive 18-inch diamond-turned 'Sawtooth' alloy wheels with 265/65 R18 all-terrain tyres.

The Defender Works V8 will be available in eight standard body colours with a contrasting Santorini Black roof, wheel arches and front grille, accented by machined aluminium door handles, fuel cap and 'Defender' bonnet lettering. Keeping the view ahead lit is a set of new bi-LED headlights.

Inside, the special Defender gets a full Windsor leather interior trim - covering the dashboard, door panels, headliner and Recaro sports seats - and the company's own Classic Infotainment system incorporating satellite navigation.

Pricing in the UK starts from an eye-watering £150,000 ($259,307) through Land Rover Classic.

The company has also announced it will soon offer a range upgrades to owners of the standard Defender, including power upgrades for the diesel engine, high-performance suspension and brake kits.

Australia

Unfortunately for us Aussies, the Defender Works V8 will only be offered in select markets including the UK, MENA nations (Middle East and North Africa) on a personal import basis, while European availability is on an individual import basis.

Speaking with CarAdvice, Jaguar Land Rover's (JLR) product public affairs manager, James Scrimshaw, said: "We ceased importing the L316 Defender in early 2016, so it is not possible for us to continue doing so without re-certifying them".

"If a customer does decide to purchase one from the UK with the intention of bringing it into Australia, then it would need to be privately imported," he added.

We'll keep dreaming then...