Home » Here’s Why The Supercharged V8 Land Rover Defender 110 SE P500 Is The Goldilocks Land Rover

Here’s Why The Supercharged V8 Land Rover Defender 110 SE P500 Is The Goldilocks Land Rover

Land Rover Defender 110 Se P500 Topshot
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Every so often, you come across people on the internet who think the new Land Rover Defender isn’t worthy of the nameplate. They couldn’t be more wrong. It might not always seem like it, but the world is in a better place than it was when Land Rover launched the Series I in 1948. It’s generally grown cushier, more convenient, and more connected, and most of us are all the more pampered and demanding because of it. Rehashing the old body-on-frame theme of the old model just didn’t make sense because an experience like that isn’t for everyone.

Instead, the reborn Land Rover Defender offers an urbane flavor of modern construction you simply wouldn’t get in a solid-front-axle off-roader, all while being more capable than most drivers could ever want for. It bridges the gap between a BMW X5 and a Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and comes with such a vast array of engines and bodystyles that there really is a version for everyone.

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This one? It’s the Defender 110 SE P500, and it’s got a juggernaut of a five-liter supercharged V8 under the hood. That might sound excessive, but it makes this particular Defender the sweet spot of the entire Land Rover lineup. Let me explain.

[Full disclosure: Land Rover Canada let me borrow this Defender for a week so long as I kept the shiny side up, returned it with a full tank of premium fuel and reviewed it.]

Landed Gentry

2024 Land Rover Defender P500

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The Defender P500 isn’t quite the full-bore V8 trim, but not only is it close on paper, it offers something unavailable with that top trim — a classic, traditional set of colorways. See, you can only really get the V8 murdered-out, and while some people are into that, others certainly aren’t. In fact this one’s pretty much the opposite of all-black because not only does it sport gloriously simple silver wheels and a modicum of silver trim, it’s specced with the rather distinctive County package.

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This retro throwback comes in two different color choices, but the bolder of the two paints the roof and rear door in a rather fetching shade of metallic green, then complements that with a jaunty graphics package. It’s a modern twist on the County pack of old, and the sort of feel-good treatment that heritage-heavy SUVs take to naturally.

2024 Land Rover Defender P500

However, despite the graphics package, the Defender doesn’t come across as heavy-handed. Jaguar Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern didn’t want to go full retro, and that was the right call. With a subtle taper to the profile, a strong beltline, and tasteful body side surfacing, this Land Rover isn’t ashamed to be modern, owning its aluminum-intensive unibody architecture and committing to its 80 percent use case of four-season family transport.

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Industrial Chic

2024 Land Rover Defender 110 SE P500

If the look of the Defender sets the tone, the cabin cements it. Sure, you still get a properly tall driving position with a dramatically tilted steering column like in an old-school 4×4, but you’re surrounded by hallmarks of luxury industrial-inspired architecture. The exposed aluminum dashboard element contrasts beautifully with the incredibly sturdy leather-wrapped grab handle in a manner that’s rugged yet not austere. There’s little minimalist about the Defender’s cabin, which gives it a bounty of character.

2024 Land Rover Defender P500

Now, character is lovely when it comes to design, but in-car technology ought to be as straightforward as possible. After all, if a driver will be adjusting something at highway speeds, it ought to be as simple as possible. Mercifully, Land Rover has made it so. The massive curved infotainment screen offers a seriously slick user experience, with large icons, plenty of top-level shortcuts, and few layers of submenus. Black levels are outstanding and there’s no perceptible lag, making the Pivi Pro infotainment system one of the best in the segment. What’s more, the climate controls are all physical, which just boosts the user-friendliness of the Defender.

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Because the screen’s user interface is so intuitive, it almost takes a backseat to all the lovely touches in the Defender’s cabin. A litany of rear seat power outlets are expected in a luxury SUV, but perfectly placed grab handles for climbing in the back are unexpectedly thoughtful. It’s the same deal with the optional fridge in the center console, or the dead-simple heated seat controls that just require you to press the climate control knobs in and twist. Nice. Also nice? The panoramic roof sunshade automatically closes when the Defender is parked and opens when you’re on the move again. A huge part of luxury is convenience, and Land Rover certainly knows how to make it easy.

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No luxury vehicle these days is complete without banging tunes, and this Defender 110 is equipped with a 15-speaker Meridian surround sound system advertised at 700 watts. It’s a solid upgrade over the more regular 400-watt 11-speaker Meridian system, with punchy bass, reasonably crisp treble, and decent overall imaging. It’s not the widest, roomiest sound stage in the segment, but it has personality, and is worth the modest upcharge on lesser trim levels. However, the best noises in this Defender aren’t played through the touchscreen.

Belly Of The Beast

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the engine makes the P500 variant of the Defender particularly special. Under the hood sits a 493-horsepower five-liter supercharged V8 that will eagerly indulge in Kray levels of ultraviolence when the mood strikes, but it’s also happy to waft around town just a hair past tickover, viewing the road as one giant chaise longue. Talk about effortless. The ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic gearbox is occasionally a bit lazy off the line, but slide it into manual mode and it’ll rip off shifts with Romford pace. Keeping the revs elevated announces the P500’s panache to the world, because despite the supercharger being quiet, an inimitable V8 burble does all the talking you’ll need. Ever wanted to be in control of a small tsunami? Yeah, it’s like that.

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2024 Land Rover Defender 110 SE P500

Granted, part of that equation is mass. You constantly get the sense that the acceleration of this Defender thumbs its nose at Sir Isaac Newton, for it’s simply unnatural for a 5,735-pound SUV to be described as brisk. At the same time, despite constant awareness of this 4×4’s mass, it never feels truly unwieldy. Excellent sightlines, confident brakes, and a properly modern suspension setup make the Defender shrink around you while providing a level of connection that almost makes you forget about the driving position. Sure, you’re way up in the sky, and you’re certainly aware of the curb weight, but you certainly don’t feel like you’re paddleboarding an air mattress, or piloting the world’s fastest telephone booth. It drives like the modern SUV it is, and that can even be felt in the ride.

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In the days of old, air suspension usually made for a slightly floaty ride. Not in the Defender, which is so well-damped that you can almost call it taut. Don’t expect any wallowy secondary body motions here. However, even on blingy big alloys, it never grows harsh, and that’s where the Defender 110 P500 separates itself from its contemporaries. These days, too many powerful SUVs abuse rubber and damping to meet test track targets, losing sight of why people buy these vehicles in the first place. Comfort matters, and the Defender gets it.

2024 Land Rover Defender 110 SE P500

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Oh, but at the same time, the Defender needs to be a proper 4×4, so it gets low range, a locking center diff, a variety of terrain modes, and is available with even more off-road goodies like a locking rear diff and air ride that can rise to offer 11.5 inches of ground clearance. Will you use any of this in the city? It’s unlikely, but perhaps. If you ever find yourself boxed in by parked cars and need to descend a 45-degree embankment, the Defender will just eat it up. No sweat.

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Downsides? Well, there are a few, but nothing egregious or unexpected. Fuel consumption with the V8 is somewhat intense, but then again, you’d expect that, wouldn’t you? Same goes for the odd creak from the all-plastic cargo area, a functional nod to the farmer’s darling roots of the nameplate. Then there’s the matter of whether or not this particular model makes sense, but that depends on perspective.

The Bottom Line

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Right, let’s get down to dollars and cents. As equipped, my tester lists for $105,650 including freight, or $118,000 including freight in Canada. That’s a lot of money, but depending on what you compare the Defender 110 SE P500 with the County Pack to, it could still be good value. If you’re looking for a V8 luxury SUV that blends old-school sightlines with new-school luxury, the benchmark is the Mercedes-Benz G 550, and that’s nearly 40,000 greenbacks more before any options. At the same time, if you don’t need a V8, the six-cylinder Defender P400 is less expensive and rather tempting, and the Ineos Grenadier exists for people who really miss the old body-on-frame Defender.

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2024 Land Rover Defender 110 SE P500

At the same time, the incoming 2025 model year Defender might be the last chance to get it with the five-liter supercharged V8. The incoming Defender Octa will feature a twin-turbocharged V8 sourced from BMW, and while it’ll be undeniably rapid, there’s just something about a soundtrack unmuffled by turbochargers that feels so special. Plus, this Defender’s still thousands less expensive than the only slightly more powerful yet somewhat confusingly designated V8 P525 trim, which makes it a bit of a deal, relatively speaking.

Ultimately, this Defender is a blend of everything great about Land Rover. Not only does it include upright styling reminiscent of older models, it has nigh-on the practicality of a Discovery, along with a soundtrack, thrust, and elegance bordering on Range Rover standards. It’s a greatest hits album that isn’t cliched and a brilliant sweet spot of the entire product range.

2024 Land Rover Defender 110 SE P500

Overall, you can’t help but get the sense that the person buying a Land Rover Defender 110 SE P500 is a connoisseur. To them, a new full-fat Range Rover feels too ostentatious and pampering, but they still want V8 thrust and proper refinement. For those customers, I’d call it mission accomplished. This thing won’t replace an old L322, but it’ll happily take up neighbourly residence in the stable, relieving the Range Rover of the noughties of daily driver duty. Now that would be an interesting two-car solution.

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(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)

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DB Cooper
DB Cooper
23 days ago

This on the white steel wheels would be on my short list for my somewhat low-key daily driver if I won the lottery or had F U money. But I’d still probably pick a Land Cruiser.

George Millwood
George Millwood
24 days ago

Anybody would think you loved it.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
24 days ago

> massive curved infotainment screen

You spelled “tiny” wrong. It looks like 13-15″ diagonally, max. Maybe I’m an outlier with my dual 4K workstation, but in 2024 I would expert better integration and more surface area for automotive displays. Like the Lincoln model recently reviewed here.

And the lack of lag should really be a given now that you can get lag-free phones and tablets for $500 or even less.

The haphazard placement of styling elements and capricious use of black and white make it look like a crashed Maxima with a salvage title repaired with random mismatched junkyard parts.

Other than that, yay, I guess?

Kyree
Kyree
24 days ago

Enjoy it while it lasts. It seems JLR is phasing the Jaguar AJ-V8 out of production. Ford quit building the engine under contract in mid-2020; JLR purchased the tooling and set up shop elsewhere. But now the new L460 Range Rover and L461 Range Rover Sport use BMW V8s (again), originally the N63 and now the new S68 mild-hybrid. And the F-PACE and F-TYPE—both of which currently offer the Jaguar V8–are being discontinued after this year, and will mark the end of ICE Jaguars. That would leave the Defender as the last vehicle still using the Jaguar V8, and I can’t see them maintaining a whole production line just for that.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
24 days ago
Reply to  Kyree

Matt Prior sort of hinted in his Autocar column a week or two back that they may tool up for it again, without elaborating. I can’t imagine they’d have two engine variants coming down the same line at Nitra, so maybe at the new Indian plant.

Last edited 24 days ago by Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
24 days ago

Thomas gets to drive one before me, and I worked on the fucking thing. Make of that what you will.

Kyree
Kyree
24 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Since you worked for JLR, you’ll appreciate this: I was thumbing through the owner’s manual for my 2015 LR4 (Disco 4 to everyone who isn’t North American) and saw their image for the backup camera. The backup camera feed in the picture showed a parking lot full of JLR wares, including a—by that time—old early-run X350 XJ and I think even a Disco II.

It looked like someone at JLR HQ was told “Go out to the car park and take a screenshot of the backup camera,” and I chuckled at the indifference of it.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
24 days ago
Reply to  Kyree

Somewhere in the back of mind, I think they used to do the handbooks in-house. Now I’m pretty sure they’re handled outside of the company.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
24 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Tell me the bicolor exterior styling isn’t your fault.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
24 days ago

Colorways are decided by the CMF team (color, materials and finish). That being said, the alternate roof color is an option on some trims. Most of the models and internal visuals were done in the hero color, which was Pangea green with a white roof, and normally on the white steel wheels or the Luna five spokes (as shown here) because they were the best looking alloy. 130 was shown in white with silver painted cladding as suitable for the markets it was targeted at.
We wanted some bolder colors, but that’s a bit retro for Gerry.

Last edited 24 days ago by Adrian Clarke
Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
23 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I’m just annoyed that the Trophy Edition has a wrap and is not Sandglow paint. Although truth be told the whole thing is a bit cheeky of JLR, basically charge almost double for an Defender S with a wrap and a winch.

I have to say though, I got to see the OCTA two Friday’s ago and it’s REALLY nice. Certainly worth the asking price vs the Trophy Edition.

Last edited 23 days ago by Thebloody_shitposter
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
24 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I actually figured this was because of the potential for a conflict of interest! Then I remembered I’m on a site where your professional standing within the organization is measured in dead vehicles.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
24 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

The only things I won’t talk about is stuff that didn’t make production. The JLR UK press department won’t lend me cars at the moment but no point queering the pitch for the future, and I am still friends with people who work there.

Last edited 24 days ago by Adrian Clarke
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
23 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Every time I see one of these in The Cape Fear, I announce, gladly, to anyone within earshot: “I’ve rubbed elbows with true greatness and know that man responsible for those glorious taillights.”

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
24 days ago

“This check engine light is too dim”

”This 4wd failure warning is too bright!”

”This suspension leak is just right!”

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
24 days ago

Goodbye supercharged Jag V8. You were a character.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
24 days ago

I can only imagine the reliability of this thing has to be one of the absolute worst for a vehicle being offered by a major manufacturer today. Thus, I have a hard time calling it “Goldilocks” anything. It might be Goldilocks for the first couple thousand miles, but given Land Rovers current new vehicle reliability, it might not even be that long. Heck, a friend-of-a-friend just had to sue Land Rover to have her Range Rover LWB lemon’ed. And this was after something like over 10 dealer trips in less than a year and over 3 months (cumulative) of it sitting at the dealer.

ProfPlum
ProfPlum
24 days ago

I don’t think we get the P500 in the US, just the P525 if you want a V8. IIRC it only comes murdered out in black.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
24 days ago

I genuinely like the design of these (shout outs to Uncle Adrian, who worked on this car) but I really don’t have any use for a six figure, gas chugging, unreliable, luxury off roader…and nor do about 95% of the people that buy these damn things. I see them everywhere in well off parts of DC and they’re just so laughably impractical in the city.

And what exactly are you getting out of it, Douche Bag, ESQ? 7 MPG on your way to the Whole Foods and back, endless dents and dings from urban parking, a giant STEAL ME sign on the hood, and that one, single time you get to drive it on the beach, post about on Instagram for an entire day, and finally get to feel like a REAL MAN while the old ball and chain is back at the beach rental with your spawns?

For the 7 people that legitimately need, can afford, and will use this amount of capability, go for it, I guess? I’d still rather have a Lexus GX for this specific use case but if your neighbor already has one and you just NEED to show him up then get the Rover. For the other 30,000 of you that just want to look cool on your way to the golf course, just get a goddamn X5.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
24 days ago

Like Murphy Brown once said about her new boss’ Range Rover:

“You could get the same effect by taping $10,000 bills to the hood of a Ford Explorer”

Of course she drove a vintage Aston Martin.

Last edited 24 days ago by Urban Runabout
UnseenCat
UnseenCat
24 days ago

If you ever find yourself boxed in by parked cars and need to descend a 45-degree embankment, the Defender will just eat it up. No sweat.

My wife did basically that in a Discovery 1, years ago. Traffic came to a standstill because drivers were actually having difficulty following directions from flaggers in a construction zone. She turned off down a 45-degree embankment, onto some disused railroad tracks, and emerged onto the road a few hundred yards away and past the massive cock-up.

There’s something to be said for a vehicle that just doesn’t care whether a road exists or not.

Kyree
Kyree
24 days ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

I have done the same in my ‘15 LR4, which is—of course—a Disco. Had to put it in low-range and drive up a steep embankment to get off the highway.

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
24 days ago

How many 6 figure yuppie off-roaders could the market possibly support? Just like all the others, this one doesn’t appeal to me in any way.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
24 days ago
Reply to  Rusty S Trusty

Trophy wives gotta drive something…

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
24 days ago

I like that it has reasonable sidewall tires, and that’s about it.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
24 days ago

I”m sure the $40K saved on the G Class will pay for quite a few flatbed rescues.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
24 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

If you want to get there, take a Land Rover.

If you want to get there AND back, take a Land Cruiser.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
24 days ago

There is something about the design of these that screams “douchebag” to me.

Juan Butera
Juan Butera
24 days ago

The problem with all these luxury America-market SUV’s is thirsty engines and small fuel tanks. Some barely have a 250 mile range.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
24 days ago
Reply to  Juan Butera

Which is to say that an entry-level Tesla has more range… which is hilarious given what these things cost and what they are supposedly for.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
23 days ago
Reply to  Juan Butera

TIL a 24 gallon tank is considered small…

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
24 days ago

I’ve seen a few of these on the road now, and I find the huge, body-color C-pillar very jarring, and not in a positive way. So much so, that regardless of how good this vehicle might otherwise be, I just can’t get past it.

Robn
Robn
23 days ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Lucky for you, it’s just an option!

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
24 days ago

I honestly wish JLR would simply take a moment to address their abysmal track record for reliability; it really tarnishes the image of being ‘durable’ on a trail.

And the more I see these on the road, the more I pine for Honda to bring back the Element.

I think that the massive opaque quarter panel looks just as out of place on the biggest Defender as it does on the littlest one. Any comments, Thomas, on the outward visibility to see traffic around you?

(edit typo)

Last edited 24 days ago by Spikedlemon
Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
24 days ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Abysmal reliability is a longstanding British tradition and you know how the limeys love their traditions.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
24 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

It does support the tradition of the English of complaining about something: weather, Brexit, choice football team (ManU, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City…), Wales, etc…

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
24 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

I’ve always, always wondered about the rough-and-tumble, go-anywhere image these have somehow cultivated while being relentlessly unreliable. What good is a 130° approach angle and 65″ ground clearance when your suspension has shat out and your engine doesn’t start?

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
24 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

You’ll still have 24” of ground clearance left after your air suspension explodes.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
24 days ago
Reply to  Vanillasludge

These have approx 72″ ground clearance most of the time.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
24 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Perhaps the breakdowns are engineered in so you can prove your ingenuity with field repairs and practice your stiff upper lip when the engine explodes or something

Davey
Davey
24 days ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

I think it’s reflected in manufacturers warranty that haven’t improved or changed in the last 20 years. I fully expect a vehicle to last 160,000klms at the bare minimum so why is the warranty only to 100? I swear they (most auto makers now) build cars to be leased for 3 years then traded, which for some, still counts as a ‘sale’. They don’t care what happens to it outside of the warranty period. Which is why they don’t upgrade their warranty period. I feel this is especially true with Merc, BMW, land rover, etc: Lease one, trade it in in 3 years. They know their clientele who are dropping the money to buy (lease) these and aren’t interested in us who want to keep a vehicle for 10+ years.

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