The march of the performance SUVs is set to leak into one of the greatest off-road nameplates in the biz

For decades, the Land Rover Defender made a name for itself as a go-anywhere off-roader with the right stuff to conquer any obstacle in its way. Now, it looks like the nameplate will challenge a new landscape - the racetrack, as evidenced by this spy video showing what appears to be a Defender SVR testing at the Nürburgring.

Making A Go-Fast Defender

The Land Rover Defender is set for its biggest update in a very long time, with the 2020 model year bound for the U.S. market and breaking a 23-year hiatus for stateside 4x4 fans.

However, while the Defender is considered a true off-roader icon, it appears as though it’s getting its speed chops as well.

As you can see above, JLR is prepping a go-faster version of the rough-stuff specialist, which was recently spotted at the Nürburgring undergoing performance testing.

Land Rover Is Working on a Defender SVR and Here's the Proof
- image 837937

This new Defender is believed to be the Defender SVR. For those of you who may be unaware, SVR is Jaguar Land Rover’s performance division, while JLR’s SVX division handles the off-road stuff.

Hit the play button above, and you’ll see the up-and-coming Defender SVR attacking the Nürburgring for 4 minutes and 41 seconds. The shots are from the sidelines, and we can see how the Defender handles the Green Hell from an outsider’s perspective.

Our first impression isn’t exactly positive.

After all, a Defender SVR seems a bit silly, don’t you think? Extra performance for an off-roader? Really?

Frankly, this test mule looks like it’s out of its element as it pounds across the Green Hell, lumbering about with a good amount of body roll, swaying from side to side as the test driver goes flat out through the corners. You can really see just how huge and top heavy the Defender is as it claws at the pavement. The only thing keeping it from toppling over is insane grip and the skill of the driver.

Land Rover Is Working on a Defender SVR and Here's the Proof
- image 837939

That said, we’re sure a Defender SVR will sell like hotcakes, because of course it will.

Moving on, it’s still possible that what we’re looking at is just a standard Defender, which would be an odd thing to see at the Nürburgring, but not impossible. Considering just how extensive the updates are for this thing, it’s possible JLR just wants to make sure it can hang with the rest of the SUVs out there, even if it looks ridiculous.

And although this tester is covered in camo, there are a few things we can pick out.

First, the new Defender will once again come with a big, boxy design, with blocky proportions and loads of straight angles.

LED lighting in front and in back will keep it feeling modern, while up front, we expect the same grille as the latest Discovery. Up top, the flat roof will make it easy to load up the cargo, while larger average dimensions will offer more space inside. Short overhangs will help with approach and departure angle, should you actually find time to take it off road between stints at the ‘Ring.

Land Rover Is Working on a Defender SVR and Here's the Proof
- image 837944

Under the new skin, you’ll find a flexible architecture called the New Modular Longitudinal Architecture, which are the same bones as the Range Rover Sport and Discovery, plus a new independent suspension front and back. This is a major update over the old model’s solid axles, which were more robust and better able to handle abuse in the rough stuff, but ultimately unrefined on the road. By contrast, the independent suspension will offer better ride quality and handling.

2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e Drivetrain
- image 737714

Under the hood, you’ll find a standard turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with both gasoline and diesel variants on offer. The ‘four will also provide the internal combustion needed for electrified variants, possibly throwing in the same hybrid powertrain as the Range Rover Sport, which produces 398 horsepower and 472 pound-feet. We might also see an all-electric version similar to the I-Pace.

As for the SVR, we think a six-cylinder powerplant sounds about right, with upwards of 400 horses on tap.

Transmission options will be limited to an eight-speed automatic from ZF, while a two-speed transfer case and diff locks help it handle off road.

Inside, we expect an upscale interior to help it fight the Mercedes G-Class. The Defender will also go head-to-head with off-road specialists like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

Pricing will slot in around $55,000 to $60,000.

Further Reading

Land Rover Is Working on a Defender SVR and Here's the Proof
- image 837946

Read our full speculative review on the Land Rover Defender SVR.

2007 Land Rover Defender
- image 95067

Read our full review on the Land Rover Defender.

The 2020 Land Rover Defender is Aimed at the Heart of North America
- image 811688

All-New Land Rover Defender Debuts This September, Goes On Sale In 2020

Jonathan Lopez
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: