Raise your hand if you thought Land Rover and Bowler were already inseparably hitched. Now raise your hand if you could imagine Bowler existing without Land Rover. If your hand was ‘up’ for the first question and ‘down’ for the second, then you may be puzzled to hear that it’s taken until 2012 for both brands to announce a formal partnership.
Going forward, the Bowler EXR rally car and EXR S road car will proudly sport ‘Powered by Land Rover’ branding and will demonstrate the best of British engineering and design in rally raid events around the globe.
Up until now, Bowler has sourced its powertrain componentry from Land Rover, but very much on a ‘customer’ basis, now they’ll have direct access to Land Rover’s world-class engineering facilities and a more structured approach to parts supply and procurement.
The focus of the partnership will initially be on the Bowler EXR rally car, but engineering, development and parts supply will be shared across the entire Bowler business, and include the new Bowler EXR S – the first ‘all terrain supercar’ – which has been developed in response to demand for the ultimate road-going rally car.
Both the EXR and EXR S use a modified version of the Range Rover Sport chassis, and use modified versions of the 5.0-litre V8 engine used in Range Rover models. The EXR uses a FIA-restricted 300bhp naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine, while the EXR S uses a 550bhp version of the supercharged 5.0-litre V8. The EXR S can sprint from 0 to 62mph in 4.2 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 156mph.
Just in case you’re bored of that sensible Q5 or Freelander and think these sound like a bit of fun, now might be the time to mention the 300bhp EXR will set you back £145,000 (excl. VAT), while the EXR S is £155,000 (excl. VAT). Metallic paint is a £985 extra.
Bowlers will be seen competing in this year’s Baja 1000 rally raid in Ukraine and Rally Reykjavik in Iceland, and next year in the Tuareg Rally in Morocco and Silk Way Rally in Russia.
As in previous years, the company will have a large presence at next weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it will run five rally cars on the Activity Field, allowing fans and spectators to experience a Bowler in race conditions.
The 550bhp EXR S will also be in use, so if you’re at the event, make sure you visit the off-road area to see (and hear) it for yourself.
“I AM A DRIVING GOD!”
Most of us probably remember Bowler from the Richard Hammond piece on Top Gear, where after overdosing on his own self-confidence, proclaims “I am a driving god!”. It’s one of the all-time TG moments and perhaps characterises better than any, just how much fun these machines are to drive (provided you’ve got an empty quarry to play in like Hammond).
The Bowler Wildcat which Hammond was driving, was fitted with a 300bhp n/a 5.0-litre V8 engine, so we can only imagine how the EXR S will perform with 250bhp more.
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