Worlds fastest SUV? The Bowler EXR-S. – /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS


CHRIS HARRIS: You’ve probably
all heard of Bowler. It’s the company that made
something called the Wildcat, a crazy, Paris-Dakar rally-raid
machine that looked like a Land Rover Defender– well, on the outside at least. It delivered its first
car in 1986. Now, Bowler doesn’t make
the Wildcat anymore. It makes something
called the EXR. We’re going to drive it today. But Bowler’s customers have
shown an interest in having an EXR for the road. And this is the development
car for that project– the EXRS. And it has 550 horsepower. Just look at the thing. I’m here with Ed Cobley, who is
an off-road driving guru, who knows more about these
things than most people and how to drive them. So first I want to ask him a bit
about the spec of the car. And then I want him to tell
me how I should apply my knowledge of that mechanical
layout to driving the car. So first of all, we’ve got the
standard Jaguar Land Rover supercharged V8. How much horsepower? ED COBLEY: This is
running about 550 horsepower at the moment. CHRIS HARRIS: How much torque? ED COBLEY: About 700 pound-feet
of torque. CHRIS HARRIS: So it’s enough. ED COBLEY: It’s enough. CHRIS HARRIS: And we reckoned
1,700 kilograms? ED COBLEY: Around 1,730,
I think, is about the exact number. Yeah. CHRIS HARRIS: OK, so at the
moment, it’s on a street tire. But we’ve got an off-road
type suspension. ED COBLEY: An off-road
suspension. We’re just looking at refining
the suspension, at the moment, for the on-road market. We’ve got the off-road market
wrapped up, really, with the suspension. So it’s just something we’re
dialing at the moment, looking at different manufacturers. So it’s very much driven in an
orientation of a very reactive manner, almost like a
rally-style at the moment, in the way we drive the car. CHRIS HARRIS: So torque splits,
four-wheel drive, permanent four-wheel drive. ED COBLEY: Yeah. CHRIS HARRIS: We’ve got a
locking diff at the rear and a locking diff in the middle. ED COBLEY: Exactly that. So we can have a torque split of
50 to the front, 50 to the back, and then an equal
distribution– 25 at the rear each. So it really makes it
quite driveable on an oversteered situation. CHRIS HARRIS: So is it 50-50
lock the whole time? ED COBLEY: This one
actually is. Yeah, the race car is
a 60-40 power split. This is a 50-50 split. CHRIS HARRIS: OK. This incredible little private
venue we’re at– we can’t say where we are, but
it’s beautiful. However, it’s about as fraught
with danger as anywhere I’ve ever been. We’ve got a nice water
hazard in the middle. And we’ve got immovable objects
in the form of trees and rocky banks all around
the outside. And we’re kind of hoping
to let this thing move around a bit. So I am– it has to be said– shitting myself. Because it’s expensive. And actually, I’m quite
expensive as well. So I don’t want to
hurt myself. So we’re looking to maybe have
some attitude of the car before the apex. ED COBLEY: Exactly. CHRIS HARRIS: Gas and
drive it through. ED COBLEY: Exactly. I think the old saying’s
a Scandinavian flick. Do I believe right? CHRIS HARRIS: In a 1,700
kilogram, 700 foot-pound of torque, SUV on street tires. ED COBLEY: That’s right. Yeah. CHRIS HARRIS: [BLEEP] mental, man. In drive, it drives like
a normal automatic. We’ve got no interior here. This is a development car. But I’ve got a Range Rover
steering wheel. Falls away quite nicely, lot’s
of good engine noise– gurgling, bubbling. I’m sitting high. I haven’t got much
steering feel. I’ve got a normal Pirelli street
tire on there, running a 21-inch rim. And driven like this, on this
rather technical little circuit, it feels fine. It feels quite pleasant, and
it feels quite pokey. What it doesn’t prepare you for
is what happens when you push a little bit harder. Coming to this little bottom
corner here now. And I’ll use a bit
more throttle. And then all bloody
hell breaks loose. That’s biting. 100, 110, 120, 125. This is one of the silliest
cars I’ve ever driven. You can back it into corners. There’s hints of oversteer
everywhere. I’ve got more yaw then you get
on a cross channel ferry in a force nine gale. It’s remarkable. It’s got immense traction
too, immense traction. Look at my surroundings. I’m effectively in someone’s
garden where there just happens to be a small
racetrack. What a thing. What a place. Obviously I’m aggressive
at 85. I’ll tell you what, for 155
grand, there aren’t going to be many rivals for this thing. Look at that. [INAUDIBLE] oversteer. Oversteer in third gear. You get that in a G-wagen? I don’t think you do. This must be the most niche
vehicle of all niches. It really is for people that
find the G63 or G65 just a little bit lacking
in performance. So if you own a diamond mine,
and that’s what you want to do, you want to get to work and
back as fast as possible, then this is your vehicle. Just think about the driving
styles of [INAUDIBLE]. It’s fairly specific about
the way you’ve got to back the car in. You do. You need to [INAUDIBLE] before
the [INAUDIBLE]. See, you just back
it in there. The car wants to oversteer. [INAUDIBLE]. And it follows you around. The problem I have is that there
is a bit of a sort of oversteer window
to get through. And to judge that, how much
circuit you need to let the car wash out, it’s
quite difficult. And the course is
quite narrow. I don’t want to crowd
something. But this is bonkers,
absolutely bonkers. Never experienced anything– I have to say– quite like it. 1.7 tons with full oversteer
in someone’s back garden. This thing is a proper
[INAUDIBLE]. You just can’t believe the
way it handles the bumps. Oversteer everywhere. You sort of try and look for
a bit of a racing line. Oh, there’s a pheasant. He’s going to get it. You’ve got to take speed off
for these slower corners. But it’s quite rear biased. It’s just drifting everywhere. The thing weighs 1,950
kilograms. Well, that’s with 400 liters
of fuel on board. One of the best things I’ve
driven in a while. We need to go into a
rally raid, Neil. This is awesome, this thing. It just feels like a big,
slightly cumbersome rally car. But it wants to move around. It wants to oversteer. And again, with these off-road
vehicles, what your eyes tell you is coming up, the vehicle
never transmits to you. You just can’t believe the way
it deals with the bumps and everything else. Wow. Please excuse my ridiculous
seating position. A 6’5″ German was in
here before me. But that is awesome,
completely awesome. Woo. It isn’t mainstream
then, the EXRS. But there isn’t much like it
out there, because it isn’t even a G63 rival. It’s a potential rally-raid
winner with a trimmed interior, oh, and
550 horsepower. And as of June 2012, it’s
kind of semi-official. Much like Mercedes had an
agreement with AMG in the ’90s before buying it, Land Rover is
now working to help Bowler. All the EXRS needs now is a
proper name like Growler. That’s it, the Bowler Growler. Like it.

98 thoughts on “Worlds fastest SUV? The Bowler EXR-S. – /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

  1. Who the hell are Bahwler? And whoever asked if this thing could do the Dakar? That's what they've been built for and raced in since the Bowler Wildcat. I know the Bowler Nemesis was designed to still drive after a 40ft drop to concrete on its nose, and I'm guessing this is similarly overbuilt.

  2. This is a serious machine that uses the aesthetic look of the range rover sport as it needs 'something' to hide its modesty. Ive been greenlaning (posh brit. Offroading for our international friends) in the wildcat and it did things i simply wouldnt attempt in my series 3 but anyone who knows about fast offroading knows this is the daddy. Even the icelandics love it and most stuff is tame by their standards. And to the guy who mentioned a bmw x6. Watch top gear review. Ahhhh……Blwess yewwww.

  3. That is such a naughty sound. Naughty naughty car. Go stand in the corner with the jaguar xkr-s. And Let the Nissan juke r and the TYPHOON have a turn now please.

  4. Actually, Chris. 'Growler' has a pretty different meaning to what you meant. I think 'Vulcan' would be a good name.

  5. Looks fun but for 155 grand i'd want galvanized bolts etc not shit that is rusting already when you look at shots of it underneath

  6. WARNING: if you're wearing headphones on blast the tire skreech will murder them ear drumssss… just saying 

  7. To all of you retards who are saying it looks like a range rover, it's obviously a heavily modified range rover.

  8. Haha I probably shouldn't share this… but I was feeling very depressed.. Didn't care if I died, so I went onto a secluded road, and drove my 1995 Suburban so fast around some corners that I had some oversteer.. No one besides was in danger but myself. And I suffered no injuries.

  9. Mental, really hope landrover have some sort of replacement lined up for the defender when that is discontinued. In the meantime Chris, I hope you were tongue in cheek about 'Growler' as that's slang for ladies parts in some scruffy areas of the UK 🙂

  10. R.I.P. Drew Bowler… one of those bonkers genius engineers who made this country great by daring to realise their lunatic vision…

  11. You are in someone's garden; the Bamford family's garden in Staffordshire. I filmed the JCB Fastrac on this track on many occasions. Don't bother trying to find it or drive it, you've got more chance of tearing up Vladimir Putin's front lawn.

  12. Excellent! Love it! Great English vehicle! And that guy can drive too !!! Very nice! Ohh to win the lotto!! Best wishes all! 😂👍🏽👍🏽

  13. And this is how you know forza horizons4 has no idea what grip is .that turn would have me in the ocean even though I was on a mountain going 70mph 😓🤔🤨

  14. To make a Rover worth owning and driving (not to mention one that won't explode after a few miles in the dirt) you have to tear it apart and completely rebuild it. Sounds about right…

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