Defender OCTA will be an M5-engined G63-rivalling mud-plugger

26th March 2024
Ethan Jupp

The Land Rover Defender, or just ‘Defender’ as it’s known in its current place as a pillar in JLR’s ‘house of brands’, is about to get a serious shot of steroids. Coming from the mad bods at Special Vehicle Operations is the Defender OCTA, a flagship that’s to be as near as makes no difference, a BMW M5-engined Defender-shaped take on Ford’s Raptor formula.


It’ll be the most powerful Defender ever, as well as the most sophisticated and most hardcore. Defender OCTA will pack a rejigged version of the incredible 6D dynamics pitch and roll control suspension from the Range Rover Sport SV, with a keener eye on off-road performance. Puffed-out arches will house big off-road tyres, wrapping strong off-road wheels that cover specially developed Brembo brakes. As above, powering it will be the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, now with mild hybrid tech, seen in the RRS SV as well as BMW’s top-level M cars. Rumours suggest it’ll be even more powerful than the just-launched super SUV…

So far, it looks like the 110 body will serve as the exclusive basis for the OCTA, which is currently undergoing what JLR calls ‘the most exhaustive development regime in Defender history, from the snow and ice of Sweden to Dubai desert, Nürburgring tarmac and Moab rock crawls’.

Speaking of OCTA, where does that name come from? It wasn’t long ago we heard that simplification in terms of naming structure was the goal at JLR. Regardless, here we are, with OCTA referring to the octahedron shape of a diamond which is the hardest naturally-occurring substance on Earth and also renowned for its rarity. Sounds a bit of a stretch to us – would SV not have done?


New for OCTA is a symbol which is an encircled diamond. This will appear everywhere you’d see ‘SV’ on the hottest Range Rover Sport. That’s to say on the special drive mode button on the wheel – presumably corresponding to an OCTA mode – the boot lid and for the Defender, on its signature panel that splits the side windows. There, it’s a gloss black diamond encased in a machined and sandblasted titanium disc.

“The Defender OCTA name and signature graphic are representative of the vehicle’s strength, resilience and desirability – inspired by the vehicle’s diamond-like tough luxury credentials,” said Mark Cameron, Defender managing director.

“The new signature graphic is particularly significant as it will be the first time it is seen on a Defender – and it will identify all flagship Defender models in the future.”

With the hardware it has and with the changes that have been made, you can expect this Defender to cost a pretty penny. The Range Rover Sport SV Edition 1 hits the £180,000 mark and we wouldn’t be surprised if this Defender was up there too.


So who’s it for? Well, as we discussed within our interview with SVO head Jamal Hameedi last week, this, finally, is JLR’s riposte to the Mercedes-AMG G63 which has so far gone unchallenged as a sturdy, snub-nosed ultra-quick V8-engined tank, which has earned a loyal following and customer base as an inimitable symbol of status over the years. Will it be a direct objective rival? No. The Defender OCTA is barking up quite a different tree dynamically and technically. But as an object of appeal, these cars are very much aimed at the same crowds.

We’ve always thought the Defender had the bandwidth to play in that arena with a few choice visual and mechanical upgrades and the OCTA appears to be what we’ve been crying out for. That Hameedi is the father of the Ford Raptor only makes us more excited for its arrival.

As for when we’ll see it properly? There’s no hard reveal date given, though we expect now the teaser campaign is ramping up, we’ll see it before the Summer’s out.

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