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The latest addition to the Defender family looks to set a new standard for luxury and performance in the world of 4×4 vehicles – and leave Mercedes G-Wagen owners weeping in the mall parking lot.

With its imposing stance and distinctive tough luxury design language, the new Defender OCTA cuts a striking dash. Based on the Defender 110 but bolder, tougher and able to wade deeper than any production Defender vehicle to date, its inspiration (the geometry of a diamond, one of the hardest and most desirable minerals on earth) befits the stealth wealth styling package while a slew of on–and off-road capabilities was put through their performative paces during almost 14,0000 tests that spanned laps of Germany’s Nürburgring ring to rock crawls in Utah. So far, so impressive.

And that’s without even mentioning the BMW-sourced 4.4-liter Twin Turbo mild-hybrid V8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which produces 626 horsepower that can take it from 0-6mph in 3.8 seconds. Or top out at 155mph (on the track, obviously) when fitted with 22-inch lightweight alloy wheels and all-season tires, making it the fastest Defender to date too. Nor have we touched on the 6D Dynamics air suspension (previously featured on the Range Rover Sport SV), which can detect driving surfaces and optimize its dynamic settings accordingly. Hydraulically interlinked continuously variable semi-active dampers virtually erase the roll typically felt in high-riding SUVs, instead providing the most composed drive of your life – whether on a forest track or cruising in the city. 

The Most Hardcore Defender Ever

Its creator, Jamal Hameedi, Director of SVO at Jaguar Land Rover – who caught the off-road bug helping Ford win three Baja 1000 titles in the ’90s – shared during a reveal event in Los Angeles last month that “it was the kind of car he had joined JLR to make” and which might explain his move to the British adventure brand (“the most hallowed nameplate in the off-road world,” per Hameedi) after a successful 27 year run at the Blue Oval where he oversaw development of the F-150 Raptor and Ford GT, among other performance cars.

Since JLR first teased the OCTA back in April, the automotive world has been speculating what this “toughest, most capable, and luxurious Defender” would deliver. According to Hameedi, it’s one of the few off-road vehicles built without compromise. We’re talking zero.

“Our high-performance experts have achieved the impossible with Defender OCTA, working tirelessly over the past three years to create the most capable Defender ever made – regardless of which surface it’s enjoyed on,” he stated in the release. In person at the reveal, he underscored how it’s built for epic adventures and pushing the boundaries of what a Defender can do – from dune bashing in Dubai to going flat out on the Autobahn. 

Designed to be as fun to drive on-road as off-road, with a single press of the transparent signature logo button on the steering wheel, the Defender OCTA transforms from Comfort Mode to exhilarating Dynamic Mode, optimizing steering, throttle, and suspension for ultimate on-road thrills. Hold down the button, and you’ll activate OCTA Mode. The first-ever off-road performance mode for a Defender features an Off-Road Launch mode for peak acceleration on loose surfaces with a unique Off-Road ABS calibration for top-tier braking (although the 15.7-inch front brake discs with 6-piston Brembo calipers ensure an instant and precise response there too).

Drivers can access Terrain Response modes like Sand, Mud and Ruts, Grass Gravel Snow, and Rock Crawl for more technical off-road challenges. Additionally, ClearSight Ground View3 makes the bonnet virtually transparent and improves visibility and maneuverability.

A New flagship for the Defender Brand

Equipped with flared fenders and chunky 33-inch tires—the largest ever fitted to a production Defender—the OCTA is built with hardcore off-roaders in mind. Not only does it boast a wider stance, sitting 1.1 inches higher and 2.7 inches wider than its predecessors for superior ground clearance and stability, three factory tire options ensure it can handle any terrain you care to throw at it: Michelin all-seasons (top speed 155 mph), BFGoodrich Trail-Terrains (130 mph), and Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs (112 mph).

A new rear bumper with a four-exit active exhaust system add to its aggressive look while off-road-optimized front bodywork with unique grille designs for better under-bonnet airflow, enhances performance and appeal. Robust underbody protection, like the aluminum alloy front under shield with a graphite finish, and exposed Phosphor Bronze-finished recovery points further emphasize its readiness for adventure.

Tough Luxury That Telegraphs Status 

As Defender’s inaugural model offering in its special sub-brand high-performance line, each OCTA sports an encircled tell-tale diamond graphic, including a gloss black diamond within a machined and sandblasted titanium disc on the signature graphic panel. Spec options include two new premium metallic finishes—Petra Copper and Faroe Green—alongside Carpathian Grey and Charente Grey. All models can feature a contrast roof and tailgate in gloss Narvik Black. Making it further stand out from the crowd, the Defender OCTA Edition One also offers an optional matte wrap and distinctive chopped carbon fiber detailing on the bonnet script, fender vent surrounds, and interior trim. Exclusive accessories include a twin raised air intake and a winch mounting kit for off-road adventures. 

Inside, the Defender OCTA Edition One sports new seats wrapped in Ultrafabric 3D-knit textile, available in a subtle Khaki and Ebony duo-tone color palette. For the base model there’s semi-aniline leather in Burnt Sienna with Kvadrat textile trim in Ebony. The seats notably also include Body and Soul Seat audio technology, a first for Defender vehicles. Developed with SUBPAC and Coventry University it allows the driver and front passenger to ‘feel’ the music, with six wellness programs available for added relaxation. The OCTA’s enhanced rugged good looks perfectly match its tough off-roader status, making it a standout in the Defender lineup.

So, who’s going to be driving it?  

A broad group of people, says Hameedi, who believes it will draw a new wave of customers to the Defender brand. Perhaps, as many are mooting, even a handful of Mercedes-AMG G 63 defectors. Set to make its public debut at the 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed (July 11–14), the base model Defender OCTA starts at $153,475, and the Defender OCTA Edition One (available through the first year of production with Faroe Green as an exclusive paint option and that sweet chopped carbon fiber detailing) starts at $169,275 with orders currently being taken for both. landroverusa.com

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