Currently reading: New Defender could be next for Bowler's rally treatment
Rally-spec off-roader based on classic Defender bodystyle may be followed by Land Rover's modern interpretation

Future Bowler models could be based on current Land Rover bodystyles, raising the prospect of a rally-spec reworking of the new Land Rover Defender in the future.

Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations boss Michael van der Sande said the firm was still finalising long-term plans for the newly purchased Derbyshire firm, but he hinted at future projects, which could include different bodystyles.

“Could we ever see Bowler getting involved with other products than the old Defender shape? Absolutely,” said ven der Sande. “We’ve just launched the new Defender, which is making quite a splash, and that needs to bed in from a Land Rover point of view.

“Bowler is going to be very busy with the CSP 575 for a little while, but in the course of time, whether it’s the Defender or other products from Land Rover that Bowler could sprinkle some off-road rally dust on, it’s absolutely possible.”

Earlier this year we revealed that Land Rover was testing a range-topping V8 version of the latest Defender, as first prototypes for the model hit the roads in disguise. Prototypes of the hot 4x4 were running JLR's 5.0-litre supercharged V8 in an unknown state of tune. With insiders confirming that it's not a project under the Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) banner, it's entirely possible that Bowler could be working on something special.

It is understood that more 'mainstream' future high-end models, such as the 2021 Range Rover, will move to using a twin-turbocharged V8 sourced from BMW. However, JLR has secured production of its venerable 5.0-litre 'AJ' V8 in-house for the foreseeable future after production at the long-standing Ford engine factory in Bridgend ceased earlier this year. 


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It promises unrivalled off-road performance with on-road niceties. But does it deliver?

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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xxxx 4 November 2020


So one car goes wrong on an unnamed popular website in another country.  I suppose at least Ford and BMW are consistant in that All their phevs can catch fire

The Apprentice 5 November 2020

xxxx wrote:

xxxx wrote:

So one car goes wrong on an unnamed popular website in another country.  I suppose at least Ford and BMW are consistant in that All their phevs can catch fire

So you deny LR score poorly in reliability tables?

So you don't think an all new model with such poor electronics/software it doesn't log why its showing a fault is unacceptable?

The Apprentice 4 November 2020

Strip out all the electronics first...

Maybe they can fix it.A popular US car channel on youtube took delivery of a new base model Defender. So far its only been fault free 3 days out of a month. LR even flew a UK engineer over to try and find out why the engine fault light keeps triggering. Unbelievably the car switches the warning on but doesn't log why! so they have been throwing 'lucky guess' parts at it for weeks without success.

Would you buy a car from a brand not known for reliability but with such weak diagnostics?