2023 Land Rover Defender SVX gears up to take on the AMG G500 4×4

Land Rover is preparing a radical new version of the Defender to take over the Mercedes-AMG G500 4×42 – and it may well be the long-awaited spearhead of the dormant SVX sub-brand.

Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division plans to launch the SVX brand’s toughest rework of its serial production models and sell it alongside its SVR and SVAutobiography vehicles.

The first model in this family was the 518-horsepower Discovery SVX V8, but that was canceled in 2019, with Land Rover telling Autocar that the badge will continue on other, unspecified models. JLR design chief Jerry McGovern previously suggested that it would be “arguably” suitable for future Defender models.

Now, as the heavily modified Land Rover Defender prototype moves to the Nürburgring Nordschleife, it looks like the SVX plan could make a comeback.

Head of Special Vehicle Operations Michael van der Sande recently told Autocar that the division’s way of working is to “increase vehicle content to nine, 10 or sometimes even 11, depending on how crazy we want it” — and evidence suggests that this new variant is Defender. The most “crazy”.

Quad exhausts indicate that the mule derives its power from the supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that the current Defender V8 uses (in fact, Van der Sande said it will be “a while” before that engine is turned off), which in this application produces a 518 horsepower and 461 lb-ft for a 0-62 mph time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 145 mph.

There is no evidence of any mechanical modifications, but what is clear is how distinct it is from the standard car.

The wheel arches, for example, are massive flared, the suspension is raised, the wheels and tires look like all-terrain items and there’s a bunch of big mudflaps to complete the look.

It’s a treatment similar to that applied to the previous generation of the heavily modified Defender in the 2015 James Bond movie Ghost. Other distinguishing features of this highly exclusive design are the external rolling cage, front winch and protective body elements.

While the standard Defender V8 competes with the big-selling AMG G63 SUV, this variant will be more competitive with the more extreme G500 4×42, which is expected to enter its second generation this year.

Expect a dual focus on off-road capability and on-road speed, at a price that makes clear for nearly £100,000 a Defender V8.

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