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The prospect of test driving the Land Rover Defender P525 V8 2021 had carsales’ John Mahoney wondering “what could be more irresistible than the combination of sports car levels of acceleration, unbeatable off-road capability and a soundtrack to die for?” By the end of his experience behind the wheel he had discovered a vehicle that “packs a pretty punch both on road and off.”
LR Defender Santorini Black Back View
Incorporating a “buxom supercharged 5.0-litre V8”, Mahoney noted the Defender P525 also features a heavily reworked chassis and a new Dynamic program in its Terrain Response 2 drive mode system “that makes it more playful on and off-road”. The bespoke chassis “cleverly raises the bar for handling without compromising its off-road credentials or comfort”.


For the test, Mahoney started in a V8-powered Defender 90 on dirt. After pressing the starter button, he believed the noise of the refined, cultured V8 would be enough of a drawcard for some. Selecting Drive, Mahoney was impressed by the sharp throttle response, and when he floored the throttle “the Defender V8 feels indecently fast, especially on loose surfaces. Even on the sighting lap around a special rally stage set up for us to test the Defender V8, it proved it is both far faster and more neutral-handling than any Defender before it.”
LR Defender Body Engine
Switching to the longer-wheelbase 110 V8 to test its on-road driving capabilities, Mahoney appreciated the car’s slightly slower, more measured responses. With the stiffer anti-roll bars, more reactive dampers and generally sharper responses of both V8 models, he found the Defender P525 remains comfortable on all surfaces, with precise handling. The Defender V8 is, he said, “seriously quick and sits pretty flat in corners, and we doubt the Mercedes-AMG G 63 would match the Land Rover's cross-country pace, on-road agility, overall refinement and sense of fun, thanks to the extra sophistication of its monocoque construction.”
Land Rover Defender in Santorini Black
After testing the car both on and off the road, Gardner struggled to find anything he didn't love about the Defender.