Italian coachbuilder Ares has just unveiled its new limited-edition Defender V8 Hardtop that takes the iconic off-roader and makes it even more capable.
Ares has first overhauled the design of the Defender. The changes start at the front where the Land Rover has been equipped with a new grille, a prominent Ares badge and an eye-catching hood.
The alterations continue down the sides of the Defender V8 Hardtop and include flared wheel arches and a set of aftermarket 18-inch wheels wrapped in Cooper Discovered STT Pro tires. Ares has also fitted the Defender with new side steps, side-exiting tailpipes, and new LED headlights, running lights, fog lights, and taillights.
The company’s designers have also made a series of comprehensive upgrades to the cabin of the Defender. For example, it sports plush leather across the seats, transmission tunnel, door panels, steering wheel, and dashboard, while also having plenty of wooden accents. An Alpine infotainment system is also featured alongside Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as is an upgraded six-speaker audio system with a subwoofer.
Work done on the mechanical components of the Defender is also quite comprehensive. For example, the suspension has been jacked up by 35 mm (1.3 inches). The standard four-cylinder engine has also been replaced with a 5.3-liter naturally aspirated V8 pumping out 355 hp and 383 lb-ft (519 Nm) of torque. Mated to this V8 is a six-speed automatic transmission.
Supporting the more powerful engine are upgraded axle shafts and CV joints. The brakes have also been overhauled with larger discs and six-piston calipers. The new suspension system offers both sport and comfort driving modes.
Ares says it will only produce the Defender V8 Hardtop as a “limited series” but has not yet said how many units will be built. Each will be priced from €235,000 ($250,000).
“We created our first Defender Ultra V8 in 2018 and launched it to great acclaim,” Ares Design chief executive Dany Bahar said in a statement. “The project gave us exceptional experience and knowledge of the model, so when it came to designing the new ARES Defender V8 Hardtop we were determined to raise the bar higher still. The third edition boasts an even more distinctive style and refined finish inside and out. Powered by the hugely responsive V8 engine, the ARES Defender V8 Hardtop retains the characteristics of the Defender, but is beautifully reimagined to express modernity and luxury, and represent the ultimate incarnation of this iconic vehicle.”