Land Rover Defender OCTA: all the details on JLR's second 626bhp super SUV | CAR Magazine

Land Rover Defender OCTA: all the details on JLR's second 626bhp super SUV

Published: 03 July 2024 Updated: 03 July 2024

► Land Rover reveals new Defender OCTA model
► RRS SV tech in a Defender body
► Available in 110 size only

We all know the score with Defenders, right? Virtually unstoppable off-road but not particularly fast if you’re traversing the countryside on a B road. Things have got much better with the current model, but it’s not something you’d drift around the Nurburgring at speed.

But that’s exactly what the £145k Land Rover Defender OCTA has been caught doing during testing. It all starts with a very healthy boost in power, although not from Land Rover’s supercharged 5.0-litre found in the Defender V8. Instead, it shares its BMW-sourced 4.4-litre twin-turbo mild-hybrid V8 with the Range Rover Sport SV.

It matches its maximum power of 626bhp and 553Ib ft – with 590Ib ft available in launch mode – to give 0-62mph in a blistering 3.8 seconds. That’s significantly quicker than the Mercedes-AMG G 63, and less than half a second slower than the Porsche 911 Dakar.

But the SV doesn’t just donate its engine, you also gain its ‘6D’ hydraulically interlinked adaptive dampers. These remove the need for conventional anti-roll bars by controlling pitch and roll, giving a far greater breadth of ability, as Jamal Hameedi, Director of SVO at JLR explains.

Alan Taylor-Jones and Jamal Hameedi with Land Rover Defender OCTA

Without the anti-roll bar you gain 119mm of suspension articulation off-road and the dampers provide far flatter cornering on it. New suspension arms increase width by 68mm and mean much wider arches, while ground clearance increases 29mm. Front and rear bumpers are redesigned to improve approach and departure angles, and there’s beefed-up underbody protection for extreme off-road situations.

Tyre height grows to 33-inches (the same as a Ranger Raptor) with a choice of a road-focused 22-inch wheel with all season tyres, or optional forged 20-inch items. Tick the box for these and you’ve a choice of more hardcore off-road tyres. All-terrains drop the top speed from 155mph to 130mph, with the seriously knobbly advanced all-terrains lowering it further to 99mph. Regardless of tyre, 0-62mph takes 3.8-seconds.

Having poked around a road-biased OCTA on 22s and one with the forged 20s, both have a more menacing presence than the regular Defender. The standard 110 – you can’t have a 90 or 130 OCTA – is wide, but this is even more mirror-filling. As for the wheels, the 22s don’t look bad, but the motorsport-inspired 20s just suit the OCTA perfectly. I’ll take mine in white, please.

Land Rover Defender OCTA static rear

Unlike the G-Class that uses hardy coil springs, air springs are used in the Defender OCTA. To make sure these and the rest of the 4×4 are tough enough, time has been spent at locations popular with Dakar racers testing ensuring their durability.

And why OCTA and not SV? Although it has the SV tech, Land Rover are keen to differentiate its ‘House of Brands’ despite the inevitable overlap. If you’re still wondering what OCTA actually means, it references a diamond’s octahedron shape – nature’s hardest material and also one of its most valuable luxury items. That explains the interior makeover with new seats and added plushness.

Land Rover Defender OCTA interior

It’s certainly a car that’s very different in purpose to the SV. While you can off road that, you’ll forever be worrying about giving it rock-turned wheel faces and reprofiled carbon fibre unless you’re very gentle. It’s best left to the road and the muddy pony club carparks.

The OCTA? It’s the off-road hero that’s far better on road than it has any right to be. It takes the Defender away from slow and steady mud plugging and towards the high-speed stuff that the Raptors and TRXs of this world have made so appealing. With the OCTA badge, according to Land Rover, adorning ‘all future flagship Defender models,’ things just got very interesting.

By Alan Taylor-Jones

New cars editor, seasoned road tester and automotive encyclopaedia.