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The fastest and toughest Land Rover Defender ever

3 weeks ago

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Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder


3 July 2024

Like every one of you, I’ve been waiting all this time for a Land Rover Defender that will powerslide on dry asphalt. Not sure how I’ve got by without one. Quite why it’s taken so long is anybody’s guess but hey – it’s here, it drifts, it has more power than a Ferrari Roma and we must wait no longer. Hurrah!

The Defender OCTA isn’t just yet another high-performance 4×4, and I can prove it in a single sentence. While other sporting SUVs from Land Rover, BMW, Audi, Mercedes and the rest sit closer to the ground to aid handling, this new OCTA has more ground clearance than other Defenders. It’s built to go like hell off-road as well as on. Forget the race track – this is a Defender for the Dakar Rally.

The OCTA name comes from ‘octahedron’, the typical shape of a diamond, the toughest mineral on earth. The OCTA’s toughness comes from tracks that are wider by 68mm with arches to match, a ride height increased by 28mm, longer and tougher suspension wishbones, bespoke dampers, enormous brakes and the largest diameter tyres ever fitted to a Defender (33 inches).

The OCTA is the sportiest Defender yet

Like the recent Range Rover Sport SV, the Defender OCTA rides on hydraulically interlinked suspension that does away with anti-roll bars, not unlike a McLaren supercar. Here the hydraulics control pitch and dive as well as body roll. I’ve felt the system at work from the passenger seat in the SV and it really is remarkable – the combination of ride comfort, body control and roll resistance is unmatched in this sort of car.

Power, sent to all four corners, comes from a BMW-sourced 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that produces 626bhp and up to 590lb ft of torque, while the gearbox is an eight-speed automatic. Based on the 110 variant of the Defender, the OCTA will reach 60mph in 3.8 seconds, topping out at 155mph.

You know as well as I do that most of these cars will pull away from the dealership forecourt and head straight for the nearest city centre, high street or shopping district – anywhere their drivers might be spotted. You’ll never see one anywhere in the vicinity of Dakar (and not just because the rally is now based in Saudi Arabia).

Nevertheless, I quite admire Land Rover for doing its own thing with this car – it could so easily have dropped the ride height, fitted coil springs you could crawl through and anti-roll bars as thick as your arm, slapped on a set of sticky summer tyres and flogged as many as it could make, like everybody else. Instead, it built something (more or less) unique.

Order books are open now with prices starting from £145,300. I can’t wait to see one on Knightsbridge.

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