JLR hints at ‘Defender Octa’ hybrid SUV with twin-turbo V8 gas engine


While many carmakers are tapping the brakes a bit on full electrification in favour of utilising hybrid powertrains, recently formed Land Rover parent Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC (aka JLR) appears to be going all in on hybrid power with a new SUV called the Defender “Octa.”

When JLR was forming up in 2023, a new fully-electric Defender was promised, and it may still arrive, perhaps in 2026. But the JLR website is now teasing a “mild hybrid” Defender sporting a V8 with two turbochargers. On the JLR website, the company calls the model the Defender Octa, a name it says draws from the “octahedron” finishing pattern for diamonds.

Mild hybrids are not typically “plug-in” types such as those that are now gaining in popularity, so it’s unclear if the Octa will have any “electric only” driving range. Mild hybrids typically use the electrical motor (or motors) to amplify torque and improve gas mileage for the internal combustion engine. Most Toyota Prius models work in the same way.

The new powertrain could enable more towing capacity and on-site electrical power options for overlanders and car campers. Defenders are popular with celebrities and as British government vehicles; they are equally coveted by off-road “overlanding” enthusiasts and campers the world over for their off-pavement prowess and often luxurious interiors.

2020 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview - Day 1

CHICAGO – FEBRUARY 06: 2020 Land Rover Defender is on display at the 112th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on February 6, 2020. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)”n

Getty Images

The new Defender Octa will likely be the first and new halo model for JLR’s new standalone “Defender” brand as the company begins to produce models under four separate sub-brands. “Jaguar Land Rover is a House of Brands. Range Rover. Defender. Discovery. Jaguar,” the company’s website reads. A total of nine 2023 Range Rover, Defender and Discovery models are currently listed on the site.

Carmakers have found that hybrid electric powertrains have numerous advantages, including faster 0-60 times, better gas consumption efficiency and smoothing out drivetrain response. Turbocharging can cause uneven power delivery due to lag and power surges as the rotors spin up, and with the Octa sporting two of the air compressors, a hybrid system will likely be tasked with bringing some civility to the likely high-powered drivetrain.

JLR has not specified what the Octa’s V8 displacement will be or how much power the electric motor system will add. Past Defender V8s have produced over 500 horsepower, so the gains could be significant.


A glowing red diamond icon on a Defender steering wheel was posted on the JLR website.


The JLR website says “the ultimate Defender vehicle is on its way” and “as tough as it looks.” It also says the Octa will feature the 6D Dynamics air suspension system now on the Range Rover Sport.

JLR didn’t post any photos or renders of the new Octa, or give a timeline for production. Some detail shots were posted, including one of a glowing red diamond-like logo on a Defender steering wheel.

More from Forbes Life